If a fire occurs in a pesticide storage shed or an area where pesticides are kept, special precautions must be taken as many pesticide vapours which are given off during a fire are very hazardous. Only properly trained people with self-contained breathing apparatus should attempt to put out chemical fires.
If in doubt about how to put out a pesticide fire, call the fire brigade or the police before taking any action to control the fire.
In the event of a pesticide fire, follow these steps:
- Make sure all the people downwind of the fire are moved out of the path of smoke and kept well away.
- Keep a safe distance away in case of an explosion.
- Approach the fire only if it is safe to do so. This must be done from the upwind side or at right angles. Do not work downwind.
- If the fire is small enough for you to handle, stay upwind and use soft streams of water so that you do not tear open paper containers or break jars.
- Spray drums containing liquids with water to keep them cool.
- Remember that self-contained breathing equipment is essential for anyone likely to be exposed to pesticide fumes or smoke in a pesticide fire.
- Take care not to allow excess water used to fight a fire to run into creeks or a drinking water supply.
- Call the fire brigade for all chemical fires, to report the fire and to get advice.