Fire protection regulations are a complex and ever-changing set of rules that differ from facility to facility, so there is no general rule that can be provided for all customers, but a list of Best Practices has been developed.
There are three regulatory bodies that impact the specific code applicable to your facility – the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an international non-profit organization that develops and publishes fire protection codes and standards to which businesses are held), your AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction - the organization responsible for enforcing the codes and standards set by the NFPA), and your insurance company.
Best practices for dust collection fire safety
- Consult your local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) for guidance and compliance with local codes and regulations.
- Follow all equipment Owner’s Manuals and preventive maintenance instructions.
- Keep ABC-type fire extinguishers on hand. Make sure they are properly charged and inspected, and personnel are trained in their use.
- Don’t smoke around combustible materials, including dust.
- Follow good housekeeping practices to prevent buildup of combustible dust. Floor sweeps and other dust collection devices can facilitate this.
- Empty dust collectors regularly (at least daily) and check often for possible smoldering material.
- Keep all exits and means of egress clear.
- Keep dust collectors at least 20 feet from any possible exits, from other collectors, and from areas routinely occupied by personnel.
- Keep possible ignition sources away from combustible dust. Sources include electrostatic discharge, electric current arc, glowing embers, hot surfaces, welding slag, frictional heat, and flames.
- Don’t use dust collection systems to collect possible ignition sources.
- Don’t use dust collection systems to collect combustible gases, vapors, or hybrid mixtures (mixture of flammable gas with combustible dust).
- Keep an eye out for metal inclusions (tramp metal) when working with wood to prevent possible ignition sources from being introduced into the dust collection system.
- Don’t overload woodworking equipment, especially sanders. Excessive friction or heat may ignite dust.
- Any collection hoods should be made of non-combustible material unless protected by automatic sprinklers.
- Use metal ductwork whenever possible. Per NFPA, PVC should not be used for dust collection.
- Ensure ductwork can be cleaned out, particularly when working with resinous woods (southern yellow pine, spruce, fir) that can produce dust that adheres to ductwork.
- Keep dust from building up on hot surfaces. For frequently cleaned surfaces, keep temperatures below 500°F. For infrequently cleaned surfaces, keep temperatures below 212°F.
- Keep equipment grounded to prevent the buildup of static electricity.
- Any dust collection duct that may possibly contain an ignition source (ember, spark, hot metals, etc.) should be equipped with a spark detection and extinguishing system. This should be located upstream from the dust collector, but downstream from any collection points.
Source: Oneida Air Systems. For more information, call 800-732-4065 or visit Oneida-air.com.
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