Dekra Warns Of Serious Fire Risks Related To COVID-19 Hand Sanitizer Production

April 22, 2020
Dekra offers advice to help protect workers and firefighters.

According to recent news reports, many food and beverage companies are eager to help the COVID-19 medical supply effort by retooling their operations to make hand sanitizers. Dekra North America (NA) warns of fire risks associated with making hand sanitizer. Mike Snyder, managing director of Dekra Process Safety, says that despite good intentions, these firms may be unknowingly creating a situation where they are putting the lives of their workers and emergency responders at risk.

“Many organizations are using equipment that was never designed to handle hazardous chemicals and are then trying to store that product wherever they can before they ship it,” says Snyder. “If you are doing that, you are setting the stage for a major fire that could put the lives of your workers or firefighters at risk.”

Snyder, a chemical safety specialist with over 30 years of industrial and municipal fire service experience, says because the major component of hand sanitizer is ethanol, a flammable liquid, it creates an industrial fire risk if not contained and stored correctly.

“If you spill it, it easily ignites,” he says. “Most emergency responders are not prepared to fight a chemical fire at facilities that they believe are storing only food or beverages.  Chemical fires spread quickly to nearby buildings, and the aggressive nature of the fire could catch workers and firefighters by surprise and put their lives at risk.”

Snyder says the following steps are critical to follow:

  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation to prevent the build-up of vapors which can lead to a potential fire or explosion.
  • Manage ignition sources properly, such as ensuring that all electrical wiring and instrumentation meets the electrical (hazardous area) classification for the use of flammable liquids. This often means replacing instrumentation and motors with those designed to proper standards.
  • Store product in approved areas in the proper containers, and verify activities meet the occupancy permit requirements as approved by local fire authorities. This often means not storing flammable liquids in large plastic containers (totes and drums) and limiting the volume stored.

Dekra Process Safety NA is offering firms a complimentary 15-minute discussion by phone to walk them through these principles. Companies can call (609) 799-4449 extension 321 and a Dekra safety consultant will respond within one day, according to the company.

“We don’t want to stand in the way of people trying to help their neighbors,” Snyder said. “But if we can prevent a catastrophic fire event from occurring, we have done our job.”

For more information, visit:

Sponsored Recommendations

Heat Recovery: Turning Air Compressors into an Energy Source

More than just providing plant air, they're also a useful source of heat, energy savings, and sustainable operations.

Controls for Industrial Compressed Air Systems

Master controllers leverage the advantages of each type of compressor control and take air system operations and efficiency to new heights.

Discover Your Savings Potential with the Kaeser Toolbox

Discover your compressed air station savings potential today with our toolbox full of calculators that will help you determine how you can optimize your system!

The Art of Dryer Sizing

Read how to size compressed air dryers with these tips and simple calculations and correction factors from air system specialists.