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Dust Smoulders


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I have a problem in that occasionally my work place has a smoulder incident; in which a build up of dust or other paper debris begins to smoulder usually within a saw or other electrical equipment.

I know the first step would be to remove the hazard and action is being taken to improve the cleaning regime and extraction to prevent the build up of fuel within the area.

That said I would like to ensure that should another smoulder incident take place we are prepared to deal with it.

So far I have identified that using an extinguisher would be a very bad idea, the sudden influx of pressured water, foam or CO2 would cause the smouldering dust / debris to disperse and possibly spread to other unseen locations. The most recent incident was dealt with by our supervisor who calmly had the machine isolated and used a bottle of water to isolate and then smother the smoulder until it cooled and went out.

This approach seams the most sensible but I am nervous about using bottles of water and equipment, we then rely on the supervisor staying calm and isolating the machine first so I am going to deploy sand buckets in a few obvious locations so that we can smother the smoulder before it spreads with a non combustible and conductive material.

We are going to put together a small procedure to follow from identification, investigation, action and reporting as well as what if it does not work and the smoulder becomes a fire (ie raise alarm using fire alarm system).

Does anyone have any further advise on dealing with smoulders like this?

Our fire risk assessment which the company (before I joined) employed and external consultant to undertake offers no advise or comment on smoulders other than the housekeeping issue, which, as I have said is the ideal but I need to be prepared.

Thanks in advance


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The method used by your supervisor is text book stuff, isolate the electric supply, gentle application of water, and remove to a metal refuse container and then outside in case it reignites. The gentle application of water could be a fire bucket with a means of applying the water but what is vital you must isolate the electric supply.

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