Cause and Prevention of Industrial Fire and Explosion

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On Nov 26, 2017, a blast was occurred in coastal city of Ningbo, about 200KM south of Shanghai. Blast has killed 2 and more than 30 people were taken to hospital according to the local officials. The explosion happened in a factory from a early report, and the investigation later showed the cause was a biogas digester. We are sorry to the families who have suffered great loss in this tragedy and luckily, it was happened in a site where there were abandoned.


According to the most recent fire statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

  • An average of 37,000 fires occur at industrial and manufacturing properties every year.
  • These incidents result in:
    • 18 civilian deaths,
    • 279 civilian injuries, and
    • $1 billion in direct property damage.

These disasters happen for many reasons, often because managers and employees aren’t aware of the risks that surround them at work every day. Our suppliers’s plants, contain and stores different chemicals, making it no less dangerous than this. With proper management and safety protocol, we can minimize the danger and keep everything safe.


  • Flammable liquid and gas

Fire and explosion of flammable liquid and gas often happen in chemical plant and the consequence is always disastrous. The improper storage and handling of acrylic acid, oil, fuel and alcohol turns the plant sitting on a bomb waiting for it to explode.


The PEPCON disaster on May 4, 1988,  was an industrial disaster that occurred in Henderson, Nevada at the Pacific Engineering and Production Company of Nevada (PEPCON) plant. The conflagration and subsequent explosions killed two people, injured 372 others, and caused an estimated 100 million USD of damage. A large portion of the Las Vegas Valley within a 10-mile (16 km) radius of the plant was affected, and several agencies activated disaster plans. The cause on this explosion was unknown and based on the eyewitnesses and burn test, showed it to be the gas leak.

However, this does mean that you won’t to have to worry about it if you are not in chemical industry. In fact, many plants have gas pipes. Taking aluminum die-casting plants for example, majority of melting system have been modified from coal to gas based on government regulation in China. If the pipes are not well-maintained and operators are not sufficiently trained, gas leak will eventually happen.


  • Combustible dust

On May 20, 2011, a huge explosion happened in Kunshan Zhongrong, causing 97 dead and 163 injuries. Kunshan Zhongrong is a surface treatment supplier for automotive parts and processes include grinding, polishing and e-coating. The deducting system in the plant was not cleaned as regulated and with the accumulation of the aluminum dust, it turned into a bomb.

These explosions aren’t easy to contain. In the typical incident, a small fire will result from combustible material coming into contact with an ignition source. This may be a dust explosion, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it could be most any other type of explosion on this list.

However, this small explosion isn’t the problem. The problem is what happens next. If there’s dust in the area, the primary explosion will cause that dust to become airborne. Then, the dust cloud itself can ignite, causing a secondary explosion that can be many times the size and severity of the primary explosion. If enough dust has accumulated, these secondary explosions have the potential to bring down entire facilities, causing immense damage and fatalities.


  • Electrical Hazard

Electrical fires are one of the common causes of fires in factories. It can result from many causes, including:

– power overload

– cooling system failure

– wrong wiring

– short-circuit

Heat and sparks from the electrical hazard will serve as an ignition source to a greater disaster. Think about a potential gas leak and flammable chemicals leak, it will be more than an explosion.


How to prevent this?

  • Establish fire prevention and emergency plans

Make sure you have full sets of plans from smoking to escape route. All personnels must be fully aware of the procedures and have access to all relevant documents. Routine exercises shall be a must to ensure everyone knows how to react when something like this really happens.

  • Conduct a routine inspection of facility and machinery

Training workers alone is not good enough. All facilities and machinery must be checked and maintained based on schedule.  After each inspection and maintenance, date and person must be recorded. This is vital to keep a malfunctioning hazard away.

  • Housekeeping plan

Routine housekeep must be implemented to have a clear path in the plant, which will increase the transportation efficiency and what is more, clear path of escape. By cleaning potential flammable dust and liquid away, plant will get neat and safe.

  • Electricity inspection

Check all outlets and make sure the connections are good, and without overload. Replace the outlet and cable if they are old and loose. An certified electrician must be responsible for all related works.

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