Fire Prevention & Protection

Precautions needed with compressed air

Issue 11 and Volume 151.

Precautions needed with compressed air Charles A. Warren, Jr. Warren Engineering Reports West Granby, Connecticut Reference is made to What We Learned (“Near Tragedy Underscores Need for Safety When Training,” by M. “Mick” Mastrino, August 1998). His approach is to be applauded–to learn from our mistakes without pointing fingers and, in his words, “not to discredit anyone.” There is one additional lesson to be learned. Do not use air (or any other compressible gas) to pressurize anything that was not designed for use with a compressed gas. The stored energy can be lethal if a failure occurs, even at a low pressure. Pressurization with an incompressible liquid (water) is much safer because of the stored energy. That is the reason we test pressure vessels with water, not air. There was a fatality in our local area a number of years ago when an air test failed. As a professional engineer…

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