One of the concerns when there is a fire, especially in a commercial building with volatile materials, is that an explosion might occur. The following is a look at four effective ways to prevent this from happening including things like fire compartmentation drawings and venting and constructing new buildings in a way that limits the damage fires and explosions might do.

Compartmentation of any building or property

Having a fire compartmentation survey is a great way to assess the effectiveness of your building’s fire compartmentation. If there are any gaps anywhere they will note them in their report. Basically, it means the property divides into compartments or cells that are fire-tight with fire-resistant materials that prevent the spread of fire and smoke, dust clouds and therefore reduce the risk of an explosion.

With fire compartment walls doors and floors they should ideally have a 60-minute resistance, though that might vary depending on the risk. With floors, doors and walls that subdivide compartments, these should offer at least 30 minutes. The problem with the compartments is that openings need to be made with wiring, pipes, and vents and so on. These voids allow the smoke to spread and then feed air to the fire. A fire compartmentation survey can find and fix this.

Isolating the explosion

The next thing to do is isolation. It stops any explosion from reach other areas through ducts and pipes and such. Isolation will contain the primary explosion and prevent a secondary. Manufacturers develop vessels to contain the explosion depending on the pressure. A lot of vessels that are designed to contain dust explosions for example are made so that they absorb the force and it does not cause a rupture.

Improving plant or property layout

Having a better plant layout is also a good way to reduce the risk of explosion. Fire compartmentation drawings can be a part of that. Features should include;

  • Buildings should be kept to one storey
  • Isolate buildings from each other where possible
  • Use a blast wall to protect parts of the plant
  • Vulnerable areas of the buildings should be reinforced
  • Have sufficient venting to avoid too much pressure causing structural damage

Suppressing the explosion

Then here is the last technique we are looking at here, suppression. There are three ways to avoid an explosive dust cloud, first reducing the amount of oxygen in an area, secondly having the dust out of the flammable limits and lastly in some cases adding dust that is inert.


These four methods are some of the things to consider when trying to prevent explosions and reduce loss of life and damage caused when they happen. It is often easiest to achieve when designing a structure from scratch to help prevent fires and limit how they can spread but it is also possible to make changes to existing properties. While the hope is that nothing will happen, there is always the potential that it does.

Author's Bio: 

This article penned by lora davis