What is Flash Fire?
You’ve heard of flash fire – and it may even be a hazard in your workplace, requiring you to wear flame resistant clothing (FRC) – but what exactly is this type of thermal hazard?
Scott Margolin, our resident technical expert, takes us back to the basics with a closer look at the flash fire hazard:
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) defines a flash fire as: “A fire that spreads by means of a flame front rapidly through a diffuse fuel, such as dust, gas, or the vapors of an ignitable liquid, without the production of damaging pressure” (source: NFPA 2112 and NFPA 2113).
So, a flash fire is characterized by:
- A diffuse fuel suspended in air
- An ignition source, and
- A flame front that moves rapidly through the diffuse fuel cloud, eating up the fuel as it goes
Because the rapidly-moving flame front quickly consumes the diffuse fuel, flash fires are also very brief in duration—typically three seconds or less in any single location where a worker may be standing.
How can we protect workers from flash fire hazards?
Because the flash fire is over quickly, we can protect workers from fatal and catastrophic burn injures with a single layer of secondary personal protective apparel – that is, by wearing FRC. FRC will not ignite and continue to burn when the flash fire is over, insulating you from the hazard and dramatically reducing or eliminating burn injury.
Who is exposed to flash fire hazards?
Among others, this type of hazard is present in oil and gas and chemical manufacturing settings, as well as manufacturing environments where combustible dust can accumulate.
What standards govern flash fire protection?
- NFPA 2112, Standard on Flame Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire
- NFPA 2113, Standard on Selection, Care, Use and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Flash Fire
- OSHA’s 2010 Enforcement Policy Memo
- ASTM F2733 and Flash Fire Protective Rainwear
- Overview of API RP 99: Flash Fire Risk Assessment for Upstream Oil and Gas
Learn more about flash fire protection:
- Why Wear FR Clothing?
- Who is responsible for FRC use, care, and maintenance?
- Tyndale’s Sample FRC Policy
- The answer to employee FRC compliance
Have a question? Our resident Technical expert, Scott Margolin, is available to help! Register now for a complimentary 15-minute technical consultation. He’ll schedule a mutually agreeable time to contact you.