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Firefighters were called to the scene of a combustible metals fire at a factory in Albany, Oregon on April 11. According to the Statesman Journal, 40 firefighters responded to the call at the ATI Wah Chang factory and found the source of the fire to be outside the plant, however, it eventually spread to the building.
Firefighters also found smoke coming from a nearby one-story Zirconium sponge protection building. The report stated that because of the smoke from the protection building, an additional alarm was signaled.
Salem-News said the second alarm was initiated 12 minutes after firefighters arrived at the ATI Wah Chang factory, putting rescue crews on extra alert to ensure the fire did not spread. Firefighters were concerned about the fire spreading because the fire continued to burn inside the Zirconium protection building.
Once the fire was under control and the building was safe to enter, the metal inside was removed. Although the fire was contained in two and a half hours, firefighters remained on the scene watching for additional flames, Salem-News reported.
Officials from six fire departments traveled to the scene including some off-duty firefighters to assist first responders to the factory fire.
Two employees were inside the building at the time of the fire but were able to escape without injuries. The report said the firefighters battling the blaze were also able to escape the factory without suffering any injuries.
Dangers of Zirconium
Zirconium sponge is a dangerous metal because of the challenges firefighters can face when trying to contain the flammable metal. It is reactive and if the pieces are of the proper size they can spontaneously ignite, according to the Salem-News.
Water and Zirconium can cause a violent reaction when they come into contact with one another.
When working in hazardous conditions and with items such as combustible metals that can cause damage, a flame detector sensor and proper safety equipment can protect employees from injury by alerting them to dangerous situations.
It is important for employers to maintain employee safety while they are at work and to protect them from hazardous conditions. While it is not always guaranteed to prevent fires even with the proper safety plans and procedures, equipment can be life-saving.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.