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Control measure

Reduce the potential for a dust explosion

Control measure knowledge

For a dust explosion to occur, the dust and air must be within a certain range of concentrations and exposed to an ignition source. Mixtures above or below this range cannot explode. The risk of an explosion can be reduced by taking measures to eliminate all ignition sources in high-hazard areas. Wherever possible, unaffected bulk solids should not be disturbed by fire service activities.  At incidents where a combustible dust cloud is unavoidable, measures such as suppression with inert gases or water sprays should be considered as part of the incident plan.

Incident commanders should be aware that increasing ventilation within a compartment that contains dust as a combustible material may affect the atmosphere. Opening access or vision panels increases the possibility of dust entering the atmosphere in explosive quantities and should not be undertaken until a risk assessment for this activity and a safe system of work aimed at preventing an explosive atmosphere being formed and mitigated is implemented, for example, by using covering sprays on openings.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure that all personnel are aware of the hazards that may be encountered and actions to take at incidents involving the potential for dust explosion

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Consider the risk of dust explosion as part of the incident plan

  • Eliminate ignition sources in areas at risk of dust explosions

  • Ensure that using firefighting jets/sprays, positive pressure ventilation (PPV) fans or other activities does not create combustible dust clouds

  • Ensure that firefighting operations or positive pressure ventilation (PPV) fans do not create dust clouds

  • Consider using fine water sprays or on-site systems to supress dust concentration