Gas Cylinders cause major disruption

Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate their homes last week after a series of explosions were detonated by a fierce fire at a West Yorkshire transport company in North Featherstone. A total of sixty-two properties in the town were evacuated as a precaution whilst fire fighters cooled several acetylene cylinders at the premises that were in danger of exploding.

Some thirty fire fighters drawn from the nearby towns of Featherstone, Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley tackled the fire and prevented several nearby homes from being overwhelmed by the flames. Several streets within a 200metre exclusion zone surrounding the works were also cordoned off and residents were not allowed back until the Friday evening as according to brigade safety procedures, acetylene cylinders must be cooled for 24 hours before they can be safely removed.

Acetylene is used extensively in industrial applications for steel cutting and welding and it is surprising how many fire incidents result. The London Fire brigade for example on average anticipates a call out every three weeks. Given the potential risk to personnel and consequent disruption to business activity it is important to consider the safe storage  of acetylene and other explosive gases as part of your fire risk assessment in compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.

Ordinarily this will require you to provide a dedicated secure storage facility external to the building or if internal then in a locked room separated from the other parts of the building by fire resisting walls and doors with adequate ventilation to the atmosphere. As a general guide cylinders should not be stored with other combustible goods, empty cylinders should be stored separate from full ones and their location should be indicated by appropriate signage.

Making these provisions can be a very expensive exercise and in a major fire incident still may not be sufficient to prevent major disruption to your ability to trade. There is an alternative in the form of purpose made fireproof cylinder cabinets to BS EN14470-2 that meet or exceed current Safety legislation and are designed to allow the storage of cylinders indoors. The ground breaking Asecos Type G90 Fireproof Gas Cylinder Cabinets are independently fire chamber tested to BS EB14470-2 to prove that in a fire the temperature increase within the cabinet remains below 50 deg C for at least 90 minutes to allow sufficient time for safe evacuation and for the emergency services to attend. ¬†Ordinarily in the majority of cases this will also be sufficient time for the fire to be brought under control avoiding the 24 hour “cooling off” period.

The G90 also has practical user friendly features including multiple lead in apertures for connecting pipes, manifolds and sensors for up to 4 cylinders, integral air extraction, automatic open arrest door closing system and an interior fitted rolling ramp.