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Request for assistance in preventing fatalities due to fires and explosions in oxygen-limiting silos.

Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-118, 1986 Jul; :1-8
The assistance of fire department personnel, farm owners and workers, as well as silo manufacturers, was sought in helping to prevent loss of life due to fires and explosions in oxygen limiting silos. Fires occur in such silos due to the improper closing or sealing of hatches, which results in enough oxygen entering the silo to support spontaneous combustion. A report was made of the deaths of three firefighters who died during an explosion at an oxygen limiting silo. Water was being sprayed onto the fire from the top of the silo when the explosion occurred. It is suggested that the procedure of directing water into the top of the silo during the fire was not a safe one. The author recommended that hatches be kept closed, irrespective of whether or not such silos are filled. The integrity of the oxygen limiting features of such silos can be maintained through proper and regular checking. Control should be exercised over the moisture content of the silage stored in the silo. Proper fire fighting operations at oxygen limiting silos are recommended, such as not directing water or foam onto the fire through the top hatches, and injection of large quantities of carbon- dioxide or nitrogen into the silo to extinguish the fire. Manufacturers should provide valves for injection of gasses for fire control on all oxygen limiting silos.
NIOSH-Author; Fire-safety; Fire-prevention; Fire-fighting; Fire-hazards; Firemen; Explosion-prevention; Explosions; Explosive-atmospheres; Explosive-dusts; Explosive-gases; Farmers
Publication Date
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Numbered Publication; Alert
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Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-118
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division