Friday, December 21, 2012

Incident Type data element # 244 Dust explosion NFIRS

Area of Origin: 2006 NFIRS Combustible Dust Related Fire Analysis

Just recently an Incident Type data element #244 Dust explosion (no fire) was added to National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) (Page 3-24 .pdf). Many stakeholders are aware of combustible dust related fires with an Area of Origin in which NFIRS also recognizes service area data elements #52 Conduit, pipe, utility, or ventilation shaft, #55 Duct, Includes HVAC, cable, exhaust, and #58 Conveyors (pages 4-16 and 4-17 .pdf) In contrast, no recognition of dust collectors in Equipment Involved in Ignition (EII), Shop Tools and Industrial Equipment (pages 4-31 though 4-32) nor Area of Origin. A recent analysis of NFIRS 2006 data indicated pipes, ventilation shafts, ductwork, and conveyors as the area of origin in over 16% of combustible dust related fires in manufacturing sector service areas.

FM Global provides informative guidance in "Prevention and Mitigation of Combustible Dust Explosions and Fire," Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet No. 7-76, (page 38 .pdf) in Table 6 Loss by Equipment Type with dust collectors noted as the leading type of equipment involved in combustible dust incidents.

Here in the USA a problem arises with fire departments voluntarily reporting dust collector explosions or fires to the National Fire Data Center (NFDC) through National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). For instance, there's no specific data element to report dust collectors in NFIRS like for the data element #244 dust explosions. If the incident is not recorded then it is as if the incident never happened. NFIRS data is considered a legal document for reporting purposes

Is this acceptable to recognize data element #244 dust explosion in NFIRS yet ignore dust collectors? Sort off like a Catch-22 situation where many dust explosions and combustible dust related fires occur in dust collectors yet no adequate manner to report dust collector incidents comprehensively.

Currently there are no immediate plans for changes to the NFIRS. In the meantime, the National Fire Data Center (NFDC) accepts suggestions for changes for review in the next version of NFIRS. Anyone is welcome to forward specific suggestions to NFDC in addition to supporting documentation. Please forward documentation requesting a dust collector data element be added to NFIRS to Brad Pabody, Chief, National Fire Data Center, United States Fire Administration (301) 447-1049 (Fax) or brad.pabody(@) Thanks.

NFIRS 5.0 Complete Reference Guide 

Guidance on how to analyze NFIRS Version 5.0 fire data,  refer to USFA’s National Fire Incident Reporting System Version 5.0 Fire Data Analysis Guidelines and Issues documentation. 

     Information about the methodologies used in analyzing NFIRS data, Chapter 1 of Fire in the United States 2003-2007 15th Edition.

Using NFIRS to compute national estimates in  analyses,  article on the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Web page “The National Estimates Approach to U.S. Fire Statistics” by Hall and Harwood.

·         Details on the U.S. Fire Administration’s current fire data estimation methodology for all building (i.e., residential and nonresidential) fires and associated losses,  review the “National Estimates Methodology for Building Fires and Losses” (August 2012).


Christiana Marsden said...

Very interesting, I've been working with the NFIRS data collected from 1999-2010.

In what year will NFIRS data users be able to filter by this "Incident Type data element #244 Dust explosion (no fire)"? It appears in the Jan 2012 manual so maybe only in 2014 when the 2012 data comes out...

Also, what about dust explosions that do result in fires?

Is it not the best NFIRS can do to categorize fires by item first ignited or material first ignited?

My understanding is that there is no way to really search for combustible dust incidents that did result in (or occurred as) a result of fires in NFIRS because, the data element: "Dust, fiber, lint. Includes sawdust and excelsior" may be recorded when no true combustible dust is present. They may be clothes dryer fires in industrial facilities that have laundry rooms for some reason or sawdust fires with particles too large to truly be called combustible dust.

Thus, the estimate of 17,000 could possibly be misleading if it includes all incidents that recorded "dust, fiber, lint (including sawdust and excelsior)" as the item first ignited or material first ignited.

One further comment - with respect to the problem of the lack of adequate equipment options for EII, does the lack of the appropriate piece of equipment prohibit the fire department from recording a dust-related incident? I was under the impression that fire departments could still report the incident as dust-related and could indicate "other" equipment... Their report would, thus, be less detailed than if they indicated "dust collector", but it would still be recorded.

Christiana Marsden said...

Thanks John, that was informative. I have been working on an analysis in which I need to estimate the total property losses, injuries, and fatalities associated with combustible dust incidents. I was excited when I found the NFIRS database but discarded it as a key source when I found that the majority of incidents did not have the "fire incident module" filled out very completely and felt that I could not conclusively determine that the incidents were combustible dust incidents.

I may revisit and include the EII and area of origin fields as well in my analysis as I only filtered by item first ignited, material first ignited, and property use.

An additional question, I am looking for stakeholder manufacturers to interview about the impacts of a potential standard for combustible dust. Do you know of any particularly interested companies or trade associations whose members are experienced with controlling combustible dust hazards or are well versed in their industry sector's awareness of said hazards?


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