Fire hazards of high fire risk plastics and textiles

Fire hazards of high fire risk flammable solids

Some everyday products burn extremely fiercely in the quantities found in manufacturing and distribution premises. Examples are foamed plastics such as polystyrene, polyurethane and polyethylene, polyester wadding used in clothing and bedding, and bubblewrap. A large surface area in the product itself, a tendency to melt, and high racked storage are potent hazards.

A fire at the premises of James Brown (Wool) Ltd in Liversedge, Mirfield, West Yorks in 1983, brought the risks to the attention of HSE. This was a rag sorting factory, where a fire started on the ground floor, and 3 employees working on the first floor died, in part because the fire grew so quickly. HSE’s laboratory in Buxton developed a medium scale fire test to grade products of this type. Alan was responsible later stages of work filling up our database of materials with unusual fire properties, and for HSE guidance on the fire hazards of these products. The risk assessments are backed by research Alan sponsored for HSE at HSL in Buxton, and the Fire Engineering Department at Edinburgh University. Further information is available on request. If you store these materials in quantity, your fire risk assessment must take the properties into account, and Alan can help you do this.
Large scale outdoor storage of waste plastic for recycling is an increasing hazard.

nitrocellulose is a special case, and needs very special assessment