Fire Prevention & Protection

The Danger of Arc Flash

Issue 7 and Volume 162.

By ELIZABETH FORD BURKHART The following is an excerpt from a summary report of a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Illinois firefighter fatality investigation: “On June 11, 1999, a call came into central dispatch at 1300 hours reporting smoke coming from the electrical closet on the second floor of a large department store. After checking the store, the chief was informed there was no fire; however, the store lighting was not operable. “The chief engineer of the department store had called an electrician to evaluate the situation. The electrician, an assistant chief with the Fire Prevention Bureau, and the assistant building engineer of the store entered the engineering room to check the problem. After checking the emergency power system, the electrician moved to the circuit breaker compartment (480 volts, 200 amps), removed the cover panel, and proceeded to test the circuits. Initial testing showed power on all…

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