A Message About Fire Safety, Housekeeping, MSDS’s & SDS’s


In a state know for wildfires, this one was off the charts.  It caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.  It was responsible for millions in property damage.  It threatened entire cities.  It endangered over 6,000 firefighters.

The fire was first spotted on a Wednesday in a forest south of Prescott, Arizona.  Strong winds and dry terrain stoked the blaze as firefighters and forest crews sprang into action. The fire raged and within days it consumed 1,000 acres spreading to within three miles of downtown Prescott.  Over 1,500 residents evacuated as the fire waged war on southern Arizona.

Meanwhile in eastern Arizona another wildfire rose up in Show Low.  It roared across a 330,000 acre area. As firefighters and forest workers battled the blaze, their worst fear seemed unavoidable.  The two separate wildfires were heading toward each other and within eight days, they merged into one fearsome conflagration of flame, ash and smoke.

Devastation reigned.  The American Red Cross provided food and shelter to displaced residents.  The President came to witness the destruction and the federal government designated the site a disaster area as firefighters battled the blaze.  More voracious than ever, the fire continued its rampage of destruction.

Cooler weather and the firebreaks eventually began to have an effect. Five weeks after it began, the wildfire was starting to be contained. But the toll was sobering.  This fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history, decimated 517 square miles, an area larger than Los Angeles.  It reduced 423 homes to ash and cinder. It caused 30,000 evacuations.

Whether in a forest, at work or even in your own home, the power and fury of fire can destroy in minutes what took months or years to build.  Your best plan is to fight back with prevention.

*Dispose of trash, flammable fluids, oily rags and other waste properly.

*Handle extension cords and electrical equipment with care.

*Remove frayed cords, replace damaged plugs and don’t overload electrical circuits.

*Smoke only in designated areas, and make sure cigarettes, etc., are completely extinguished.

*Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.


*Copyright 2002 Harkins Safety B157



A Message About SDS, MSDS Electrical Safety And Housekeeping

Fire Watcher

Like the lighthouse operator and long-distance runner, the fire watcher is surrounded in romance and lore. These solitary figures spend hour after hour, day after day, month after month perched high atop our nation’s forests searching for any sign of impending forest fire.  How did the job of fire watcher begin? Here’s the story.

The first fire lookout was built in 1876 by the Southern Pacific Railroad on Red Mountain near Donner Summit to watch for train fires. Then in 1905, the U.S. Forest Service adopted the idea.  They followed the example of the railroad and began using fire watchers to create an organized fire prevention and detection system.

The Forest Service built a network of forest fire lookout stations across the U.S. At first, the stations were little more than campsites.  The fire watcher would ride there on horseback, make his observations and travel to the next site. Later, crow’s-nest platforms were built atop the highest trees.  The fire watcher would stand vigil, sometimes for hours or days at a time.  If a fire was spotted, the fire watcher often became a firefighter, jumping on his horse or hiking to the fire to help put it out. By 1914 the job of fire watcher was more defined and these solitary workers spent their days in live-in cabins built on top of huge towers.

In the 1930’s during the Great Depression, government programs to put people back to work included the Civilian Conservation Corps. With the help of the CCC, fire watch towers began springing up across the county; over 8,000 towers were built and staffed by full-time fire watchers.

During World War II, the fire watchers’ keen observation skills were used to look out for enemy aircraft.  The fire watchers staffed aircraft observation decks 365 days a year until the war ended.

Although many fire watchers were phased out in the 1970s in favor of airplane observation, we need to stay vigilant when it comes to fire prevention.  Being a fire watcher is just as important today as it was many years ago.

*Look for ways to prevent electrical fires.  Check for frayed wires and replace them.  Always use the correct fuses, check ground wires and keep combustibles away from machines.

*Look for ways to avoid chemical fires. Always read MSDS’s, SDS’s and labels, keep flammable liquids away from ignition sources, check compressed gas cylinders for leaks and always store cylinders securely. Practice welding only in areas with fire-resistant floors.

*Look for ways to keep your work area safe.  Keep machines free of dust and grease.  Dispose of combustibles like oily rags properly.  Keep walkways, stairs and fire doors free of debris.


*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety B204




Prevent is for Pros

You’re the coach of an NFL team.  Your players, bruised and tired, have battled it out with heart.  Here’s the situation you’re faced with now.  It’s the fourth quarter, two minutes left in the game.  You’re ahead by 17 points.  But the opposing team has the ball.  And a lot can happen in two minutes.

Naturally, you want to keep players in bounds to keep the clock running.  The other team, of course wants to get out of bounds to stop the clock.  You don’t care whether they make a lot of short gains, as long as that clock keeps running down.  The problem is, they might go for a Hail Mary play, and if they pull it off, there goes your victory.

What’s your call?

Like most NFL coaches, you’ll probably pull your defense back into a zone.  Your safeties and cornerbacks are five to ten yards back.  Your free safety is 20 yards back.  Your defensive backs are watching the other team’s QB instead of matching strides with the receivers.  You might give up a short play, but a big play of 20 yards or more is all but impossible.

Congratulations! You picked the prevent defense, and you won the game.  Although many fans hate the prevent defense, coaches often use it to protect their lead and win.  For that reason, it’s a smart play.

You make a smart play every single day on the job when you take pro-active steps to protect your safety.  How?

*Stay alert-always.  Don’t let boredom or familiarity with a job lull you into carelessness.  That’s when accidents happen.

*Look for hazards.  Instead of taking safety for granted, always be on the lookout for anything that can go wrong.

*Practice good housekeeping.  Clutter and improperly stored chemicals are major hazards.  Avoid them just by cleaning up.

*Wear the right Personal Protective Equipment if your job demands it. PPE is prevention in action.  Without it you risk your sight, your hearing, your hands…why risk injury? Think ahead and stay protected.

*Never, ever operate a machine without the proper guards.  Improperly used, machines can be dangerous.

These are just some ways to be pro-active about safety.  Ask your supervisor for more, because when you prevent an accident, you protect yourself.  And that’s the name of the game.

Prevent and Protect.

Be Pro-Active about Safety





Heroes Under Fire

Can you name the firefighter who became a household name, pioneered modern-day techniques and equipment, and was even immortalized in a John Wayne film?  If you answered Red Adair, you’re right.

Born in Texas in 1915, Adair left school to work in the Texas oil fields.  In 1939, he joined Texas oil-fire expert Myron Kinley and worked with him for 14 years, learning how to fight oil well fires.  Later he formed the Red Adair Company.

Adair pioneered modern-day Wild Well Control techniques and equipment, and made a name for himself as the number one oil-well firefighter in the world.  He and his team averaged over 42 oil well fires and blowouts per year, inland and offshore, all over the world, completing over 1,000 jobs internationally.

In 1962 Adair battled a gas fire in Kuwait known as the Devil’s Cigarette Lighter.  Burning for six months, the fire shot up 450-foot flames, said to be visible by the Astronaut John Glen while orbiting the earth. Adair fought the fire with 500 tons of explosives and eventually capped the well.  Years later, his feat was celebrated in the film Hellfighters starring John Wayne.

The Piper Alpha offshore oil-drilling disaster in the North Sea in 1988 was another challenge.  Adair not only battled huge flames after an explosion on the platform but also had to fight off 80-mph winds and 70-foot waves.

In 1991 following the Gulf War with Iraq, Adair and his team extinguished 117 of the burning oil well fires ignited by Sadam Hussein’s troops retreating from Kuwait.  Adair had the fires extinguished in a record nine months.

For firefighters like Red Adair, knowing how to handle firefighting equipment is a part of the job.  And while you may never have to fight an oil well fire, know-how is part of your job too. Make sure you know where the fire extinguishers in your plant are located and know the right fire extinguisher to use for each class of fire. Remember, only trained employees should use fire extinguishers.  Don’t be a hero-the risks are too great.

Fire prevention is the best policy, so look out for hazards like these:

*Electrical fires can be caused by overloaded fuses, bad wiring, loose connections and sparks.

*Chemical fires are deadly.  Always check MDSs for fire prevention information.

*Flammable liquids like oil, gas and kerosene give off vapors that can travel long distances and ignite.

*Compressed gasses have flash points below room temperature.  Even small leaks can ignite.

*Clutter in the work area is a major cause of fires.  Good housekeeping is the smart prevention strategy.



  • COPYRIGHT 2004 Harkins Safety  B-188



A Safety Message About Working Safely, SDS, MSDS, Slips Trips And Falls

Achilles Heel

You remember the story of Achilles, don’t you? Sure—he was the hero of Greek mythology who couldn’t be beaten in battle—or so everyone thought.

Achilles’ mother was the sea goddess Thetis.  But his father was a mortal.  Naturally, Thetis wanted to make her son Achilles immortal too. So she dipped the baby Achilles into the sacred water of the River Styx, believing that the water would make Achilles invulnerable to injury. She was right.

Armed with this protection Achilles grew to adulthood and fought in battle after battle during the Trojan War. He was never wounded.  But during the Battle of Troy, one Trojan warrior found a “weak spot” in Achilles mythical armor.  When Thetis dipped Achilles in the river, she held him by one heel, leaving that spot dry and therefore unprotected.  Paris, a Trojan warrior knew this and hit Achilles with a poison arrow in his heel, killing him.

Achilles’ mother wanted to protect her son.  In real life, our families wish they could protect us with special armor on the job each and every day. But they can’t.  The only way to protect yourself from injury is to work safely. Your family depends on you for their safety and security.  Here are some things to consider:

*Safety rules and safe work procedures are the armor that can protect you.  They were developed by safety professionals to eliminate an Achilles heel in any job procedure.  They were developed to return you to your family safe and sound at the end of every day.  Why not use them?

*Stay Alert.  Almost every accident is a lapse in attention.  Think ahead before you start a job.  Mentally scan your work area for possible hazards.  Don’t let your work routine become so familiar that you get careless.

*Don’t Take Shortcuts.  Productivity is good, but rushing through tasks is dangerous.  Safety demands attention to detail and that means avoiding shortcuts. Period.

*Be careful around chemicals.  Read SDS’s, labels and your company’s hazardous chemical list. Know the chemicals you’re working with, know the hazards and know the way to protect yourself.

*Keep Work Areas Clean.  Slips, trips and falls can be devastating, career-ending accidents.  Why risk serious injury from something so preventable?  Keep your work area scrupulously clean and you eliminate the main cause of slips, trips and falls.

*Wear the right protective equipment.  Goggles, hardhats, gloves—P.P.E protects.  So make sure it fits properly and use it!

Work Safely Your Family Needs You

*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety B192



Safety Message About Avoiding Slips And Falls, Lifting Properly, Fire Prevention

” Finish First ”

He learned how to drive by running moonshine in North Carolina and went on to become a NASCAR legend.  Let’s take a glimpse at the fascinating life of Junior Johnson.

Born Robert Glen Johnson Jr., in 1931 in North Carolina.  Junior Johnson grew up on a farm in Wilkes County.  He ran the moonshine that his father made in a homemade still, and even served 11 months in prison after a dust up with Federal agents at the still in the Carolina mountains.

Junior eventually traded the moonshine runs for the racetrack.  The all-out, go-for-broke driving that Junior showed on the back roads of Carolina transferred easily to the paved straightaways and banked curves of NASCAR.  In his first season, he won five races and finished sixth in the 1955 NASCAR Grand National points standing.

After his short stretch in prison, Junior returned to NASCAR in 1958 and won six races.  The following year, he won five more NASCAR Grand National races and made his reputation as one of the best drivers ever.

But his biggest win came in 1960 when he finished first at the Daytona 500.  It was during his preparation for that historic race when he accidentally discovered the idea of drafting.  By following extremely close to the car in front, Junior found that he could travel in the first car’s slipstream, reducing strain on his car and gaining additional speed.  That’s how Junior won Daytona against faster, higher-powered cars.

Just as Junior Johnson found ways to drive smarter and win, we can find ways to work smarter when it comes to safety.  For example, always….

*Practice good housekeeping to avoid slips, trips and falls.

*Br alert to fire prevention and know where extinguishers are located.

*Lift carefully with your legs—not your back.

*Handle chemicals with care and always read SDSs.

*Inspect your tools and keep them in good working order.

*Check with your safety supervisor for more safety smart tips.

Recognize that safety is a highly regarded value at your company and work accordingly, because slip-ups can happen to anyone, even to Junior Johnson.

The worst crash Junior had was at the World 600 in Charlotte.  Junior was driving full-throttle with a two-lap lead when a spectator threw a bottle onto the track, causing Junior to crash.

When Junior retired in 1966, he had an amazing 50 victories to his credit.  Why not make your safety record one of victory over accidents?  You can do it by working safely each and every day.  Remember…


* Copyright Harkins Safety 2006




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