Friday, March 7, 2008

Combustible Dust Mill Fire 3/07/08

Another preventable combustible wood dust fire occurred in our nation's lumbering region in Pittsfield, Maine this morning at Hancock Lumber. Luckily no one was injured, only economic property damage and disruption to mill operations.

From the company's website, the business has a rich history which began operation in 1848 as a small logging operation in Casco, Maine. The first sawmill went into operation in the 1880s.

Today, Hancock Lumber operates three sawmills in Maine (Casco, Pittsfield and Bethel) and is the largest producer of Eastern White Pine in the United States. Hancock "Made in Maine" pine products are shipped nationwide.(1)

"...Crews from several towns used a ladder truck and other equipment to fight the fire, which appeared to be located in a system of pipes that moves byproducts of the milling process..."

Then Chemical Safety Board determined that lumber and wood product industries account for 15 percent of combustible dust incidents. Additionally, wood material accounted for the largest percentage of combustible dust incidents.

a planer striking a rock or piece of metal likely shot a spark into the wood shavings chute, a metal tube about 4 feet in diameter, while employees worked. A fan that draws the shavings up into the chute provided enough oxygen for the spark to ignite the shavings,

After the conclusion of a Combustible Dust Hazards study, the report was submitted to OSHA in 2006 with a half a dozen recommendations to prevent such incidents. The primary recommendation was to implement a comprehensive combustible dust standard which also incorporated National Fire Protection Association combustible dust codes. So far OSHA has failed to act.

On another front, combustible dust related explosions and fires occur with alarming regularity and the tragic Dixie Crystal refinery explosion is not an isolated incident . Already 12 such incidents have occurred in the United States since the sugar refinery explosion. An Act of Congress will soon bring protection to industry and the nation's workforce

Congressmen Miller and Barrow are on the right track in holding a House Education and Labor committee hearing on 12 March 2008 with the Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire Prevention Act of 2008, which they have recently drafted and are working on having the bill appear on the House Floor.

Pittsfield lumber mill hit by fire

Google Map of Combustible Dust Fires and Explosions


Kane said...

One of the problem OSHA has in sawmills is that a pile of dust sits by the saw. A citation?

Watermon said...

I don't see a citation for a pile of sawdust. Thats a bit extreme in my view.


Questions, Problems, Feedback? Please send email by clicking this link...Thanks

©Copyright 2008-2012. Combustible Dust Policy Institute
The information in is not meant to be a substitute for the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Federal Register, and other OSHA documents, which should serve as the primary source of regulatory guidance. The information on this site should not be used in place of appropriate technical or legal advice related to your company's specific circumstances. Combustible Dust Policy Institute tries to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site and its associated sites. Combustible Dust Policy Institute has no liability arising from or relating to the use, interpretation, or application of the information or its accuracy or inaccuracy. Copyright notice: All materials in this site are copyrighted by the Combustible Dust Policy Institute. No materials may be directly or indirectly published, posted to Internet and intranet distribution channels, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed in any medium without permission.