Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2011 Geographic Distribution Combustible Dust Related Incidents

North Carolina

The Combustible Dust Policy Institute (CDPI) researched over 500 combustible dust related fires and explosions in manufacturing facilities utilizing 2011 National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data provided by the U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Data Center. All 50 states report NFIRS data with approximately 23,000 fire departments out of over 30,000 fire departments in the USA reporting NFIRS data each year which consists of about 75 percent of all fires occurring annually.

2011 NFIRS data  indicated combustible dust related fires and explosions occurring in 40 out of 50 states with nine states reporting over twenty incidents as indicated by the table above. Since NFIRS is a voluntary program not all fire departments in the USA report incidents where property damage occurred. Content loss is also noted in NFIRS data in addition to property loss.

"NFIRS distinguishes between “content” and “property” loss. Content loss includes loss to the contents of a structure due to damage by fire, smoke, water, and overhaul. Property loss includes losses to the structure itself or to the property itself. Total loss is the sum of the content loss and the property loss."

In the vast majority of over 500 incidents in 2011 no fatalities, injuries, nor property damage occurred, which is similar to the results of a confined structure fires defined by the U.S. Fire Administration. In contrast, two workplace fatalities and fourteen injuries occurred in nine states. Additionally, ten fire-fighters sustained injuries while responding to combustible dust related fires. The 2011 NFIRS injury and fatality data conflicts with the 2006 CSB Combustible Dust Hazard Study for the 1980-2005 time frame, where it was noted, "injuries and fatalities occurred in 71 percent of the incidents." In 2011, property damage occurred in 30 percent of incidents with damage of less than $5,000 in 56 percent of  incidents.

Combustible dust related incidents occurred in 20 of the 21 manufacturing subsectors in 2011. The food and chemical manufacturing subsectors experienced a total of nine incidents ( two food, seven chemical). In a following post additional information will be provided on a profile of affected industries and types of combustible dust involved in combustible dust related incidents during 2011.

Special thanks to the dedication and hard work of the local fire departments, state program managers, and staff at the National Fire Data Center at the U.S. Fire Administration in providing NFIRS data to end-users, "Fighting Fire with Facts." Without their continued efforts in identifying combustible dust related incidents, sharing this valuable information would not be possible.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2011 Over 500 Combustible Dust Related Incidents in Manufacturing Sector

NFIRS Structure

National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) analysis #94 item first ignited and #700 manufacturing property use. NFIRS is a voluntary reporting system so many fire incidents are not reported to the National Fire Data Center of the U.S. Fire Administration in Maryland. If there is no incident report for the legal record, then it's as if the incident never happened. Thanks to the dedication of the local fire departments, state program managers of the the National Fire Information Council (NFIC), and the National Fire Data Center in providing this valuable incident data to stakeholders for further analysis and evaluation.

NFIRS analysis of 2011 manufacturing sector workplace combustible dust related incidents indicated 14 injuries and 2 fatalities. For all items first ignited at manufacturing facilities including dust, NFIRS data indicated a total of 115 workplace injuries and 15 fatalities. In addition to workplace injuries 10 firefighters sustained injuries responding to combustible dust related incidents at manufacturing properties in 2011.

Currently about 23,000 fire departments report NFIRS data to the National Fire Data Center each year out of approximately 30,145 fire departments. (Source: U.S. Fire Administration and NFPA). As a result solely utilizing NFIRS data is not conclusive and does not provide a total count of incidents, injuries, fatalities, and property damage. In contrast, NFPA conducts a National Survey of fire departments in the development of a scaling ratio in conjunction with NFIRS data which assists in filling the gaps of insufficient NFIRS data.

Stakeholders are highly encouraged to review the informative NFPA report "Fires in U.S. Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities (2006-2010) " provided by NFPA’s Fire Analysis and Research Division. For all types of fires the recent NFPA 2012 report noted an annual average of 22 fatalities and 300 injuries at industrial and manufacturing properties which also includes the utility, defense, agriculture, and mining sectors..

Evaluating NFIRS data stakeholders can observe emerging trends in NAICS, Area of Fire Origin, Heat Source, Type of Material First Ignited, Cause of Ignition, Factors Contributing to Ignition, Equipment Involved in Ignition (EII), Presence of Detectors, Presence of Automatic Extinguishing System, Casualties, Property Loss, etc. The next intermediate step in an evaluation is utilizing NFPA 550 Guide to the Fire Safety Concepts Tree then culminating with implementing control measures in the NFPA combustible dust standards, International Fire Code, and FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheets.

The OSHA Combustible Dust; Advance notice of proposed rulemaking, Table 1--Industries Having at Least One Recorded Combustible Dust Incident Reported Since 1980  is misleading and not reality noting 422 combustible dust incidents in a 28 year time span or approximate average of 15 incidents annually. To fully understand the depth of the combustible dust problem in the workplace it is imperative the fire service be included in future dialogue regarding training, outreach, education, inspections, and enforcement.

Key stakeholders from the fire service having intimate knowledge of fire and explosion hazards in non-residential building structures include: International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), and National Fire Information Council (NFIC).

Appropriately the contentious issue of combustible dust hazards in the workplace is primarily a fire hazard and secondarily an explosion hazard. Subsequently, the majority of combustible dust related incidents are non-consequential (near misses) fires with no injuries, fatalities, nor property damage. This results in a disturbing mindset of "normalization of deviation" where facility owners and managers falsely believe that since nothing bad has happened in the past then nothing bad will happen in the future. Initially addressing the fire hazards will eliminate the possibility of secondary catastrophic dust explosions or disastrous flash fires. 


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