Between 1993 and 2003, industrial plant explosions claimed 34 lives and caused numerous injuries in the United States alone, according to the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors. Equipment, other than boilers, such as paint ovens, hot water heaters, process air heaters, and heat treat equipment not operated or maintained properly have also caused their share of major death, injuries and devastation. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented with proper fuel system and combustion equipment safety precautions. Some of these have devastated industry with well-publicized incidents.
This article will discuss protections that are built into combustion equipment used within industry today. It will also discuss gross misconceptions that most owners and users have about the safety of these systems and how well they are protected. This will include a look at some of the groups involved in the design and annual review of this equipment and how even with these checks and balances equipment can be in a hazardous condition. Finally, elements of a comprehensive fuel and combustion equipment safety program are discussed. © 2005 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog, 2005