Thursday, November 29, 2012

Over 17,000 combustible dust related fires (1980-2005) USA


Extrapolating NFPA's Fire Analysis and Research Division estimates  from the report "Fires in U.S. Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities," provides in-depth insight into combustible dust related fire statistics in manufacturing facilities from the 2006-2010 period. Subsequently, the Combustible Dust Policy Institute noted over 17,000 combustible dust related fires in the twenty-five year period 1980-2005 while extrapolating the 2006-2010 data. Dust, fiber, or lint (including sawdust) was the item first ignited in 12% of 5,670 manufacturing facility fires/ (2006-2010) annual average. Data from the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and the NFPA annual fire department experience survey was utilized in compiling NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Division estimates.

The educational NFPA report provides valuable insight into area of origin, heat source, factors contributing to ignition, and equipment involved in ignition (EII). For example, the leading factor contributing to ignition was mechanical failure or malfunction. Regarding heat sources, the leading factor was unclassified heat from powered equipment followed by radiated or conducted heat from operating equipment.

                                Manufacturing Facility Fires (2006) Source: NFIRS 5.0 USFA

To assist stakeholders in understanding the modules in the NFIRS reporting system here is a list of several elements regarding ignition with their pages from the NFIRS 5.0 Reference Guide. Note: This is a large file (9.7  mb) and may take considerable time to download on slower connections.

Area of Fire Origin 4-13

Heat Source  4-17
Operating Equipment
Hot or Smoldering Object
Other Open Flame or Smoking Materials
Chemical, Natural Heat Sources
Heat Spread From Another Fire. Excludes operating equipment.
            Other Heat Sources
Item First Ignited 4-19
Cause of Ignition 4-24
Factors Contributing to Ignition 4-25
Mechanical Failure, Malfunction
Electrical Failure, Malfunction
Design, Manufacturing, Installation Deficiency
Operational Deficiency
Equipment Involved in Ignition 4-29
Shop Tools and Industrial Equipment

Manufacturing establishments diminished from 373,000 (1990) to 332,000 (2007), a 11% decrease in manufacturing facilities. In a ten year trend of nonresidential fires (1992-2001) there was a 21% decease in fires. (page 119 .pdf)
Nonresidential Fires (1992-2001)
USFA and U.S. Census Bureau statistics depicting decreases in nonresidential fires and manufacturing establishments illustrates a higher number of annual fires in the 25 year period (1980-2005) than in the more recent (2006-2010) time-frame. As a result, the 680 combustible dust related fires annual average (2006-2010) would extrapolate into even more annual incidents from 1980-2005.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Manufacturing Establishments (2001-2011)
Very Unusual Trend

U.S. Fire Administration: Fire Estimates. Manufacturing Fires Drop 38% (2007-2010) From 6,200 (2007) to 3,900 (2010), during the same period nonresidential fires drop 18%. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated the number of manufacturing establishments dropped 7%. So has incidents of combustible dust related fires and explosions also dropped 38% in the 2007-2010 time frame?

NFIRS is not representative of all fire incidents in the United States and is not a census of fire incidents or casualties. For example,  NFIRS is a voluntary system, and it includes only those fire incidents reported to the system by fire departments that report to NFIRS. Also, not all States participate in NFIRS, and all fire departments that report to NFIRS within a State do not necessarily report all of their fire incidents. Additionally, some fire departments that report fire incidents do not report associated casualties. States and/or fire departments that report in one particular year may not report to NFIRS the following year.

Partial list of Federal Government organizations (page 12 .pdf) that use NFIRS: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Military Services (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy), U.S. Commerce Department, National Institute on Standards and Technology, Center for Fire, Research, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Congress, House Basic Research Subcommittee, U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Library of Congress, etc.
  • NFIRS is the world's largest, national, annual database of fire incident information.
  • 50 states and the District of Columbia report NFIRS data.
  • 37 fire departments with a population protected of over 500,000 participate in the NFIRS.
  • About 23,000 fire departments report in the NFIRS each year.
  • The NFIRS database comprises 75 percent of all reported fires that occur annually.

Like many of the above governmental organizations, why didn’t the OSHA Directorates use NFIRS fire incident data when developing the OSHA Combustible Dust ANPRM for the rulemaking process? Only relying on incomplete CSB incident data (281 incidents 1980-2005) does not provide stakeholders enough information so as to understand the complexities and magnitude of the combustible dust fire problem in the USA manufacturing sector. As a result of solely using CSB incident data, the definition of combustible dust is explicitly in “suspension” and ignores layered combustible dust related fires (dust not in suspension). So what do you think, should we continue to ignore combustible dust related fires not in suspension?


NFPA's "Fires in U.S. Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities"
NFIRS Reporting Form
Uses of NFIRS
NFIRS 5.0 Reference Guide 
Nonresidential Building Fires (USFA) page 75 Mfg. Buildings
Nonresidential Fire Trend 2006-2010
OSHA Combustible Dust; Advance notice of proposed rulemaking

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