Many industrial companies work with petrochemicals which can often become volatile and flammable when exposed. Plastic, paint, soaps, detergents and more are made in a chemical process of production which risks a chemical explosion and fire if it were to go wrong.

Fire results from reactive chemicals. These chemicals give off heat, energy or toxic gases or vapours when they come into contact with common substances like water or air. Water reactive chemicals are among the most dangerous since fires caused by these chemicals cannot be fought by water. Instead, water would fuel the fire and produce toxic gases such as phosgene and phosphene.

It is vital that industries correctly label their petrochemical products and inform fire fighters of their location when they arrive on site. Informed industry managers and staff can save lives by quickly determining the causes of chemical fires and safeguarding against them occurring.

Petrochemical Refinery

Here are 4 causes of Chemical fire to watch out for:

Combustible Dust

Dust could be made of anything, including volatile chemicals, but even non-flammable materials in their dust form may catch alight. In food manufacturing, metalworking, woodworking and almost every other industry, dust accumulates in the workplace over time.

Fortunately, dust on its own can’t cause a fire, but once an ignition source erupts, even if small, all dust in the room is suspended in the air and exposed to heat. The secondary explosion that ensues from the dust cloud igniting is many times larger than the first and can cause fatal damage.

Hot Work

Most commonly thought of as welding and torch cutting, hot work is any action in the workplace that causes heat to be released. Of course, where there is heat, there is a fire hazard. Often, hot work involves the melting of substances for production. Released chemicals in this process may react with something in the environment, such as combustible dust, and cause an explosion.

Flammable Liquids and Gasses

There is always danger in working with flammable liquids and gases, which are mainly found at chemical plants. This makes it of further importance that caution is taken when handling these substances. Training personnel with protective equipment, ensuring secure storage, and controlling ignition sources are all necessary precautions to guard against the disastrous outcome of a chemical fire that will quickly produce toxic gasses and be resistant to water.

Electrical Hazards

One of the top five causes of fires at manufacturing plants is electrical hazards. Poorly maintained equipment, exposed wiring, overloaded outlets and circuits, extension cords, and static discharge can all set a spark for a chemical fire.

Electrical hazards are sources of ignition to fires, but they can also produce flammable liquids and gasses which increase the danger exponentially. Chemicals released in the air can combust further from the powerful electrical current around them.

How can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you?

A good fire detection system saves lives by reporting these fire incidents in time for them to be stopped by trained individuals. Minerva Technologies can help you set up the perfect fire detection system for your business today. Contact us at info@mintech.co.za today.