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Flash Fire

Last updated: July 16, 2019

What Does Flash Fire Mean?

A flash fire is a fire that ignites and spreads quickly at a high temperature but that only lasts for a short duration.

These fires are sudden and are caused by the ignition of a combustible material (such as a solid dust, liquid aerosol, or gas) that has been dispersed into the air.

Safeopedia Explains Flash Fire

Once ignited, a flash fire quickly consumes all of the available fuel (i.e. oxygen) in its environment. If the fuel is completely consumed before the combustible material is, there is a risk of re-ignition. Flash fires are a significant occupational hazard in many industries such as the oil and gas industry, as well as manufacturing industries that generate combustible dust particulates through their ordinary course of work.

The hazardous nature of flash fires in the workplace imposes a legal duty on the employers of workers who deal with equipment or substances that could create flash-fire incidents. For instance, OSHA has cited employers for failing to maintain adequate hazard communication standards after a worker fatality caused by a flash fire. OSHA also maintains standards that require the use of appropriately rated flame-resistant (FR) clothing to reduce worker injury.

In addition to the injury caused by direct exposure to the intense heat of a flash fire, a major source of flash-fire injury in workplaces can come from the ignition of non-FR clothing worn by workers that may continue to burn long after the initial flash fire has been extinguished. Existing safety standards for FR clothing are designed to ensure that workers are protected from both sources of injury to a reasonable extent. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards 2112 and 2113 specifically deal with the use of flame-resistant garments to protect against flash fires.


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