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Combustible Dust Fires, NFPA 1620 Standard for Pre-Incident Planning,

Currently combustible dust is not recognized in NFPA 1620 Standard for Pre-Incident Planning, Chapter 8 as a special hazard.  Firefighters must conduct a pre-incident plan at high-hazard occupancies that process and handle combustible dust so as minimize the probability of future firefighting injuries while combating combustible dust related fires. POLL: Should combustible dust be included as a special hazard in NFPA 1620 Standard for Pre-Incident Planning, Chapter 8?

Examples of Special Hazards Chapter 8, NFPA 1620: Explosives, Flammable and Combustible Liquids, Toxic or Biological Agents, Radioactive Materials, Reactive Chemicals and Materials, and Special Atmospheres (special gases or vapors). In contrast, special atmospheres should include all explosive atmospheres as noted in ATEX. "Explosive atmospheres in the workplace can be caused by flammable gases, mists or vapours or by combustible dusts. Explosions can cause loss of life and serious injuries as well as significant damage."

Additional info on high-hazard occupancies in the industrial sector that process and handle combustible dust. 

It's quite troubling when 70% of the recommendations in this recent September 2012 NIOSH report was copied and pasted from an earlier NIOSH accident report " Volunteer Assistant Fire Chief Dies at a 2010 Silo Fire/Explosion - New York" 

Key Recommendations in the coal silo storage explosion included, "Fire departments should review, revise and enforce standard operating guidelines (SOGs) for structural fire fighting that address silos containing combustible particles." As a result of key recommendations, "Recommendation #3: Fire departments should ensure that pre-emergency planning is completed for all types of silos located within fire department jurisdictions." "NFPA 1620, Standard for Pre-Incident Planning can be used to establish a pre-incident plan for silos within their jurisdiction so as to minimize the risk to emergency responders"

Did the NIOSH preparers of the accident report even bother to review NFPA 1620 while copying and pasting? Doesn't appear so, especially since there is no reference in the special hazards of combustible particulate solids which should include combustible dust in Chapter 8 Special Hazards, NFPA 1620.

So how are fire departments going to develop a pre-incident plan using NFPA 1620 if there is no mention of the explosion and fire hazards of combustible particulate solids?

About Author:

John Astad, Director, Combustible Dust Policy Institute, Santa Fe,Texas, is dedicated to educating stakeholders on the prevention and mitigation of combustible dust fires and explosions in the workplace. John also conducts site evaluations and hazard awareness training. He is currently researching the prevalence of non-consequential combustible dust fires, which are precursors to secondary catastrophic dust explosions.  John attended University of Houston-Clear Lake with a BS Business and Public Administration, majoring in Environmental Management. You can reach him

 or  Twitter: @comdust  T:  409-210-1181


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