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Fire incidents involving regulators used in portable oxygen systems


Objectives—To address the causes and prevention of fire incidents involving aluminum bodied oxygen regulators used by firefighters or emergency medical technicians.

Methods—The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and an independent forensic investigator examined several incidents involving injury to firefighters and emergency medical technicians to determine why regulators in these incidents flashed.

Results—Data and test results from investigations revealed that aluminum was a contributing factor, and there were a number of safe handling techniques which firefighters and emergency medical technicians could use to reduce the risk of regulator fires. A provisional test method was proposed by the American Society for Testing and materials (ASTM) in late 2000 to identify designs that would have a propensity for flashing. Results of the test method show good correlation with actual fire incidents.

Conclusion—Development of the ASTM standard and associated testing will be helpful to oxygen regulator designers to design safer oxygen regulator systems. As well, there are a number of additional safe handling procedures that firefighters and emergency medical technicians can follow to reduce the risk of a regulator fire.

  • oxygen regulator fire
  • firefighter
  • emergency service
  • occupational injury

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