Skip to main content

Developed and maintained by the NFCC

Control measure

Cordon control: Combustible dust

Control measure knowledge

Combustible dusts may be present in a range of premises including industrial processing plants, food processing plants and storage vessels such as silos. In bulk solid form, these may present minimal risk to fire service operations. However, when disturbed, mixtures could form within a flammable range. It is important for incident commanders to identify potential risk as part of the information gathering process.

Any materials that can burn and that exist in a fine-powdered form may, under certain circumstances, present a risk of explosion. Example materials include:

  • Sugar
  • Flour or custard powder
  • Instant coffee or dried milk
  • Grain
  • Coal
  • Wood
  • Certain metals
  • Synthetic organic chemicals

There is no established recommended cordon distance for dust explosions. Advice should be sought from a hazardous materials advisers (HMA) or on-site specialist.

See National Operational Guidance: Hazardous materials.

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Recognise the presence of combustible dust from risk information, responsible person and scene survey

  • Consult on-site specialists or other advisors regarding risk of dust explosion