Fire Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry

Date: October 25, 2022

Alan Anderson, Sr. Risk Control Consultant

Good Practices for Fire Prevention and Protection

When we think of fires in the oil and gas industry, the image that typically comes to mind is of a rig or well site explosion. While those fires do happen, it is rare. Fires most common in this industry are often isolated fires caused by an ignition source or static electricity. Often minor items, such as an engine or piece of equipment, will get damaged. However, fires often lead to personal injuries.

October is Fire Prevention Month. Controlling fire hazards is essential to worker safety on the job site. Take time this month to review our list of good practices for fire safety in the oil and gas industry.

Control Flammables

To have a successful fire prevention and protection plan, it is essential to control ignition sources of all types. Watch for hazards such as liquids, gasses, and incompatible chemicals. Also, stay alert for unusual sources of ignition such as static and stray currents. Good fire prevention and protection practices include bonding and grounding when done correctly, and posting warning signs for people to observe.

Every year we hear stories about a doghouse on fire from a heater. The cause of the fire is usually a propane tank that gets knocked over or from being near an electrical heater with poor wiring. Another flammable hazard example is fuel-soaked clothing being worn or hanging to dry. Tight quarters filled with oil and fuel-soaked items can cause fatal incidents quickly, either from the fire itself or from the smoke inhaled.

Another example would be the storage of oily rags and combustibles in containers that conduct static electricity. Static electricity combined with oil-soaked clothing can quickly cause a person’s clothing to catch fire resulting in awful burns.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors often are overlooked. Ensure that all smoke detectors are working correctly and have a fresh battery, especially in locations occupied for extended periods.

Fire Exits

To prevent and prepare for a fire, designate and communicate fire exits. Consider the following questions when designating fire exits.

  • Is there more than one exit?
  • Are the exits accessible and unobstructed?
  • Do the exits lead to a safe area? Are the doors locked?
  • Are there exit signs?
  • Are exit routes adequately lit?

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishing equipment should always be available and easily accessible. Extinguishers should regularly be inspected and recorded. Drilling rigs and well-servicing units should also have fire extinguishers readily accessible, in good condition, and have the appropriate class rating for potential usage.


Smoking on site is a significant hazard. Ensure workers or visitors only smoke in designated safe smoking areas.

Emergency Action Plan

An Emergency Action Plan should be set up in the event of a fire. As site-specific issues arise, update the plan regularly.

Contact your BITCO Risk Control Consultant for more information on fire prevention and protection in the oil and gas industry. Click the button below to find a BITCO agent near you.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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