A dust fire that generated a massive fireball that engulfed – but didn’t injure – several firefighters in September has spurred work to prepare for the next such blaze in Abbotsford.
In September, a fire in a dust hopper at a Peardonville furniture manufacturer resulted in an explosion that overtook several firefighters. According to witnesses, crews were dousing the hopper when it was opened. Dust spilled forth and instantly ignited creating a fireball.
Since then, the incident has prompted the Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service to look at other facilities where dust would be a concern in the event of a fire. So far, 22 sites have been counted.
Fire Chief Don Beer said the department is creating pre-incident plans for each site that will inform tactics in case of a fire.
“Our intention is to have it so they can access these pre-incident plans on the way to a call,” Beer said. Such plans would include the location of hydrants, sprinkler connections and hazards like dust collection points.
While firefighters train to fight dust fires, specifics unique to each location can alter tactics, Beer noted.
The fire department is also hoping to get businesses that use dust hoppers like that involved in Septembers fire to install piping in the containers that would allow firefighters to hook up a hose and douse a blaze without exposing it to oxygen. Some hoppers already are built that way, but Beer hopes to see the concept spread.