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Silo explosion at a lumbar company - a case study on extinguishing a fire in an oxygen-limiting silo.

Berardinelli-S; Guglielmo-C
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 13-16, 2006, Chicago, Illinois. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2006 May; :50
The NIOSH Firefighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program conducts firefighter line of duty death investigations. In October 2003, two volunteer firefighters were killed and eight others were injured while operating at a silo fire. The concrete silo was located at a lumber company in rural Ohio and was filled with sawdust and wood chips. The silo was originally designed as an oxygen-limiting silo, but the company later modified the silo and operated it as a conventional silo. The fire started at the base of the silo in the auger pit from an overheated auger drive belt. Firefighters were operating on the top of the silo directing water through the cover hatch and at the base of the silo directing water into a lower hatch. The explosion that followed blew the top off the silo, killing two firefighters who where thrown 70 feet to the ground. Several other firefighters and lumber company employees were injured from falling debris. The fire marshall concluded that a backdraft occurred from ignition of the fire gases. This case study will describe the strategies used by the firefighters and how those tactics led to the explosion. NIOSH recommends that firefighters operating at oxygen-limiting silo fires develop standard operating guidelines that include: not directing water through top hatches; carefully closing all open exterior hatches; lockout the electrical service; leaving the silo closed until the fire consumes all the oxygen and self-extinguishes; and consulting the silo manufacturers for advice. It is also recommended that an exterior placard with specific silo safety precautions be used and that facilities ensure the proper operation and maintenance of their silos.
Case-studies; Occupational-hazards; Fire-hazards; Fire-fighting; Fire-fighters; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Mortality-data; Mortality-rates; Surveillance
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 13-16, 2006, Chicago, Illinois
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division