How to mitigate chemical fire incidents in Bangladesh

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Incidents of chemical-induced fires have been a significant threat to Bangladesh’s urban situation. Many fire accidents annually kill precious resources and claim the lives of many persons, most of whom are triggered by improper handling of synthetic chemicals. The aim of this paper is to recognize and present the causes in Dhaka, Bangladesh, behind the chemical fire incidents. Fire events have been rising day by day for the past decade. The extent and intensity were greater on a regular basis.

Experts and officials concerned have stated that fire safety measures are not being guaranteed and that there are increasing fire incidents in Dhaka City, in breach of the existing building regulations and code. They have also accused the authorities concerned of slack regulation of fire protection and irregularities in the clearance of multi-stored building projects which do not have reasonable or sufficient fire safety criteria.

According to them, in order to help avoid any worse situations, the fire service also has to boost the capacity of its staff and logistical assistance. The landlords and the real estate brokers violate the new building code or laws inadvertently. They care less about shielding other people from flames. Both human and environmental causes are responsible for chemical fire incidents. The dishonesty of certain merchants and officials is triggered by a chemical accident in the atmosphere.

There are international reports on these causes of chemical fire accidents that we may benefit from. However, we will need a local review of chemical fire accidents, and this research will help to determine the local causes of chemical fire incidents. This paper will demonstrate the lack of human effort that triggers chemical fire in Dhaka Bangladesh.

Definition of Chemical

l Fire

A chemical fire is any blaze that begins due to a chemical reaction that ignites a chemical substance that is solid, liquid, or gas. Chemical fires are highly dangerous, capable of causing serious and lethal burns and damaging any living or material objects that stand in their way, just as run-of-the-mill fires can be extremely harmful. It is important to learn how they start and keep burning in order to better protect against chemical fires.

The Chemistry Behind Chemical Fires

Let’s speak first of all about what triggers a typical burn. Firework in a framework known aptly as the triangle of fire. The triangle is a basic model that explores which physical laws regulate the interactions of the atmosphere that, in turn, ignite a flame’s development. Three components must communicate with each other in order to generate a flame (hence, the triangle name); fire, oxygen, and heat.

Fuel

Let’s speak first of all about what triggers a typical burn. Firework in a framework known aptly as the triangle of fire. The triangle is a basic model that explores which physical laws regulate the interactions of the atmosphere that, in turn, ignite a flame’s development. Three components must communicate with each other in order to generate a flame (hence, the triangle name); fire, oxygen, and heat.

Oxygen

In order for a fire to begin and proceed, an oxidizer, normally oxygen, is required to react with the fuel. The less oxygen content present, the slower the combustion of the fuel, when the fuel has less to react with. This is why if a glass is set over it, a lit candle would go out.

Heat

The fuel and oxygen that react with each other must reach a threshold called the flashpoint in order to begin a burn. The flashpoint is the temperature at which the chemical reaction, creating a blaze, will combust. Different compounds, some moderately high, and some extremely low, have different flashpoints. The smaller a compound’s flashpoint, the more readily the compound ignites.

The ways of mitigating chemical  fire incidents:

Keep away from heat, sparks, and sources of ignition

The small fire in the first example would not have happened if the ignition source had been properly controlled. The major fire in the second example was ignited by the transformer which powered the heating mantle. The transformer was in the hood immediately adjacent to the distillation apparatus.

Keep containers closed, except when in use

The plastic wash bottle and the open beaker were both “open containers”. If the beaker had been covered or the wash bottle was removed to a hood when not in use, the fire would not have happened.

Ground all metal drums and transfer vessels

Whenever more than about 8 liters of a non-conductive liquid is transferred, sufficient static electricity can accumulate on the system to act as an ignition source. Whenever 4 or more liters of a non-conductive fluid is transferred, the entire system, including the source, the receiver, and all transfer piping must be grounded and electrically joined together (“bonded”) to achieve a common voltage potential.

Use labeled and proper safety cans and cabinets

Putting the “wrong chemical in the wrong vessel at the wrong time” is a major cause of chemical incidents. Proper labeling, and forming the habit of looking at the label prevents incidents.

Maintain adequate ventilation

General laboratory ventilation is adequate to remove routine vapor emissions. A laboratory hood is usually sufficient to prevent the accumulation of ignitable concentrations of flammable vapors during a laboratory procedure. If these assumptions are not clearly correct, the adequacy of ventilation must be investigated. Failure to do so could result in a flash fire or explosion.

Maintain and use vapor suppressing solvent spill control media

While activated charcoal is the most powerful vapor-suppressing material, it is generally too dusty for use in a laboratory or process plant. Products such as the TRIVOREX® Powder or vapor-suppressing pads (for very small spills) work very effectively and do not create an excessive mess. All lab personnel should be familiar with proper procedures for the clean-up of small spills.

Maintain and know how to use  fire extinguishers

Neither the technician nor the student in the examples above knew how to use a fire extinguisher. A student in the lab of the first incident used the extinguisher. No attempt was made to put out the fire in the second incident. The fire overwhelmed the building fire suppression system for a period of time, but finally, the building system did quench the fire. Approximately 40,000 liters of fire suppression water had to be removed from the building.

Minimize the number of flammable chemicals in the work area

Fire codes dictate the maximum amount of flammable liquids which can be used or stored in a fire zone. In many circumstances, these amounts are too much. Minimizing the number of flammable liquids (fuels) reduces both the potential for and severity of a fire.

Review your fire prevention procedures

Review your fire response preparedness. Make certain everyone understands the information needed to prevent fires. Keep the concepts of the “fire tetrahedron” in mind as your work with any ignitable material. Failure to follow these ideas can result in a fire, with injuries, loss of property, loss of work, and damage to the environment.

Emergency Action Plan

Minor events can develop into emergency scenarios quickly.  Although OSHA’s emergency requirements vary by industry, an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is highly recommended (if not required) for nearly every business and industry. EAPs clearly define actions and protocols for employees to follow in emergency situations, including reporting incidents, evacuating facilities, and accounting for all employees after an evacuation. A robust EAP should be informed by your facility’s fire risk assessment and tailored around the specific layout, hazards, and existing systems of each work site. Include your EAP when onboarding every new hire, revisit and update your EAP annually, and train all employees on emergency protocols regularly.

Fire prevention in the laboratory

The lab technician was cleaning metal parts with Hexane. The parts were placed in a beaker of Hexane which was on a hot plate. Nearby was a plastic wash bottle filled approximately 50% with Hexane. A flash fire occurred. The fire was successfully put out with a small ABC extinguisher. The white powder in the picture is the extinguishing agent. The heat from the hot plate caused a small drip from the wash bottle. The small release vaporized and the vapor was ignited by the hot plate. Fortunately, there were no injuries and no significant damage. This was not the case in the fire in the second figure. This fire occurred when a boiling pot on a thermal distillation apparatus failed. A student was injured and the laboratory and building suffered major losses. The research and teaching building was shut down for a week during the academic year.

 

Fire prevention requires understanding the properties of flammable chemicals and controlling the chemicals such that the fire tetrahedron is not allowed to form (see below). While the Safety Data Sheet and the container label are the primary sources of information, that information is not helpful if the students or scientists involved do not understand concepts such as flashpoints, vapor pressure, or static electricity. There are some basic rules for handling all flammable chemicals. Following the rules, along with other safe laboratory work process

dures will help prevent fires.

Conclusion

Chemical-induced fire incidents have become a major threat to the urban scenario of Bangladesh. Every year many fire incidents destroy valuable properties and take the lives of many people, most of these incidents are caused by unsafe management of industrial chemicals. The purpose of this paper is to identify and present the causes behind the chemical fire incidents in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

For the past decade, fire incidents have been increasing day by day. The magnitude and severity have been greater day by day. Experts and officials concerned have reported that fire protection measures are not being guaranteed and that there are growing fire accidents in Dhaka City, in violation of the current building law and code. They also accused the situation of slack supervision by the authorities concerned about fire security and anomalies in clearing multi-stored development projects that do not have appropriate or minimum fire safety requirements.  According to them, to help deter any worse situation, the fire service still needs to improve the potential of its personnel and logistical support. The landlords and realtors breach the current building code or regulations mindlessly. They think less for other people’s fire protection.

Both human and environmental factors work behind chemical fire accidents. Dishonesty of some businessman and authorities make the environment for a chemical accident to occur. There are international studies on these causes of chemical fire incidents, with which we can benefit. Yet we also need local studies on Chemical Fire incidents and these studies will help us to identify the local causes of chemical fire incidents. This paper will show the lack of human effort that causes chemical fire in Dhaka Bangladesh.

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