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Dust Fire

The same elements that are required for any fire (fuel, heat and an oxidizer) are also needed to create a dust fire. In the case of a dust fire, dust acts as the fuel and oxygen in the air acts as the oxidizer. Where there is heat, there’s fire- all that’s needed is an ignition source.

As if fire weren’t bad enough, the addition of two further elements can set the stage for what is known as a combustible dust explosion. When dust particles are present in heavy quantities and are confined, the dust cloud acts as diffused fuel. If ignited, the dust cloud may burn very quickly and may cause an explosion.

Unfortunately, anyone caught in the ensuing fire and explosion is not only at risk of suffering a severe burn injury, but may also be injured by flying debris or components of a collapsing building. A primary (initial) explosion in a confined area where dust has accumulated may loosen even more dust, and this additional dust may lead to secondary explosions, which may be far worse than the first.

Businesses in many industries must structure their work environment to reduce the potential for a catastrophic fire or explosion. Industries that are commonly faced with this risk include food processing, coal mining, tire manufacturing, recycling, fossil fuel power generation, agriculture, plastics and chemical manufacturing.

Dust fires are destructive to individuals, property, families and entire communities. Death is the ultimate consequence of a dust fire; survivors may experience severe burns that may result in a lifetime of serious medical issues and ballooning medical costs that are insurmountable. In many cases, dust fires are entirely preventable and occur due to the negligent or improper conduct of a third party, or due to a failure in the design of a product that only became apparent when it was too late.

The owner of a plant, factory or mine can minimize the likelihood that a dust fire or explosion will occur by:

  • implementing regular inspections for hazardous dust
  • maintaining a clean work environment using proper filters and dust collection systems
  • using appropriate wiring methods and electrical equipment
  • separating dust from the heating system

Owners of factories or other vulnerable areas should have appropriate injury and damage control plans and methods in place in the event that a dust fire ignites, and employees should be well versed in emergency procedures.

When these safety mechanisms are ignored or are not installed, individuals pay the life-altering price. Should the unthinkable occur, victims should consider consulting an experienced attorney who can determine whether victims can be compensated for injuries suffered due to a third party’s negligent actions or wrongful conduct, or because of a failure in the design of a product. It is important to take this step as soon as possible after an injury has occurred because there are applicable statutes of limitations which affect the time in which victims may take legal action.

If you, or someone you know, have been the victim of a severe injury resulting from a dust fire, contact the Law Offices of Robert A. Brenner or visit his website at Robert Brenner has more than 35 years assisting victims of catastrophic injuries, including individuals who have been injured as the result of a dust fire.


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