Combustible Dust Fires and Explosions

Issue 3 and Volume 165.

By Ben Peetz In August, three firefighters were injured in an explosion at an Oregon lumber mill two hours after they discovered a fire in a dust collection bin. According to a fire department spokesman, responders thought they had it “under control” when the explosion occurred. However, even with the initial fire under control, the conditions still existed within the dust collection bin that contributed to what could have been a deadly explosion. More and more, firefighters are encountering incidents well beyond the routine single-story residence fire. Beyond basic suppression and rescue skills, firefighters must be trained to recognize hazardous conditions that present potentially deadly situations. Combustible dust hazards have recently come under heavy scrutiny from the fire and safety industry. Combustible dust has been recognized as a defined hazard for many years. But a February 2008 explosion and fire at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Savannah, Georgia, left 14…

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