Flash fires are sudden, intense fires which are caused by the ignition
of flammable substances in the air, such as gas or combustible particles.
These fires rarely last more than a few seconds, but flash fires still
can have devastating effects. Unlike fueled fires, which will burn longer,
flash fires burn threw their fuel source in a matter of seconds. Because
of this, different precautions need to be taken for flash fires.
The Causes of Flash Fires
Fire is a chemical chain reaction that requires heat, oxygen, and fuel.
When these three components are present, a fire can occur. Fuel can come
in the form of hydrocarbons, which are often found in oil and gas environments,
or combustible dust, such as sawdust. When fuel and oxygen in the correct
mixture are exposed to a heat source, such as sparks, welding, or a running
motor, a fire will occur.
Preventing Flash Fires
Safely storing chemicals can reduce the chance of flash fires by reducing
the chance for flammable vapors to escape the container. Never store chemicals
in corroded or punctured containers. Keep flammable chemicals away from
heat sources, and be sure to check them regularly for spills or leaks.
Only store chemicals in sealed containers with tightly fitting lids. Ventilation
is key for allowing fumes to dissipate when the chemicals are in use.
This can reduce the chances of flash fire, but also reduce your exposure
to the harmful effects of inhaling many chemicals. Only use chemicals
in the manner for which they are intended to be used.
Control heat sources when working with flames, sparks, electricity, or
other heat sources. Work in an area that’s free of combustible or
flammable materials when using heat. Wearing protective clothing can protect
in case a fire occurs.
Protection from Flash Fires
Because flash fires aren’t as lasting as fueled fires, the protective
clothing requirements for protecting workers against these fires differs.
Flame resistant clothing can come in primary protective apparel, such
as a firefighter’s turnout gear, or in secondary protective apparel,
such as flame resistant daily wear. Secondary protective apparel is lighter
in construction and not designed to withstand lasting flame exposure,
but it can protect workers from sustaining severe burns in the occurrence
of a flash fire. It is more comfortable for workers to wear for daily
wear, allowing them protection that they can work in. Qualified safety
personnel should perform a safety inspection to determine what level of
protection different positions or tasks require.
Non-protective clothing can increase the damage caused by flash fires.
Regular clothing can ignite and continue to burn after the initial fire
is extinguished. Unless extinguished quickly, burning clothing can cause
far more extensive injuries. Flame resistant apparel is self-extinguishing,
and will not continue to burn. It also is insulated to reduce the chances
of second degree burns through the clothing.
Proper maintenance is important in extending the life of and maximizing
the protection provided by flame resistant clothing. Flammable contaminants,
such as oil or gasoline, can compromise the effectiveness of flame resistant
apparel. To help protect against soiling, wear a disposable flame resistant
coverall for dirtier jobs.
For oil and gas workers, flash fires are a very real hazard. Taking steps
to protect against flash fires by observing these habits and wearing proper
protective apparel. Reducing the risk of fire can create a safer work
environment and save lives.
If you are injured in a fire at work, get in touch with our experienced
San Antonio oil field accident attorneys. We have the experience fighting
for the rights of injured oil field workers needed to tackle your claim.
Our team is dedicated to protecting your best interests, and helping you
receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact The Law Office of George P. Escobedo & Associates, PLLC to schedule a free case evaluation.