I was recently contacted by a reader from India. The reader stated that he was part of one of the largest fireworks manufacturing plants in India, and that his plant had suffered from dust explosions. He was seeking some safety advice on preventing these kinds of fires. I offered him the below advice from NFPA 654.
NFPA 654: Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids
This standard should serve as a starting point for addressing fire prevention issues at your facility. Some requirements that this standard gives include:
Segregation (654:6.2.1) – separate the area containing the combustible dusts from all other occupancies, and occupancy types
Fire Doors (654:184.108.40.206) – install self-closing fire rated doors in all door openings
Electrical Safety (654:6.6) – NFPA 70, Articles 502 and 503 specifically address wiring, and electrical safety in areas with combustible dust hazards
Risk Evaluation (654:7.1.1) - have a risk evaluation conducted at your facility to determine exactly what fire/life safety risks are present and how to best prevent or abate these risks
Explosion Protection (654:7.1.2) – the design of explosion protection for equipment should be in compliance with NFPA 69 Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems
Dust Control (654:8.1) – explains methods of control and cleaning up excess dust, and preventing it from accumulating
Ignition Sources (654:9.1) – eliminate sources that could possibly ignite these dust particles
Fire Protection Systems (654:10) – there is no greater protection than that offered by automatic sprinkler systems, spark/ember detection and suppression systems, automatic fire alarm systems, and fire extinguishers
Employee Training (654:11) – all employees should be regularly trained in operations and maintenance procedures, as well as, emergency plans. This training should ensure that all employees are knowledgeable in the following: hazards of the workplace, plant safety rules, process description, equipment operation (startup, shutdown, troubleshooting), necessity of properly functioning fire detection and suppression systems, equipment maintenance requirements and practices, housekeeping requirements, and emergency response plans.
A good resource for more information on preventing dust explosions and industrial fires, is the Industrial Fire Prevention blog.
For further guidance on using the codes from NFPA.org check out this instructional blog post --> Code Violation?