Protection from flash-fire hazards is a particular research focus at the U of A because industrial flash fires/explosions are common hazards at many Alberta workplaces. They result from accidental release and ignition of flammable fuels or chemicals. Any place flammable materials are present, handled, processed or stored, the potential exists for developing an explosive atmosphere capable of injuring or killing workers. In the oil and gas sectors these include well-head sites, collection points, compressor stations, refineries and petrochemical plants.
The Instrumented Mannequin/Flash-Fire System allows evaluation of complete garments or garment ensembles or systems in their as-worn configurations. The results depend on both flammability and insulation characteristics of the fabrics. It allows for the evaluation of garment design and features such as:
Fit - areas of ease incorporated for increased thermal protection
Closures – zippers, buttons, snaps, cuffs
Collars – height and style
Pockets – placement and materials
The instrumented fiberglass Mannequin has 110 temperature sensors, each representing a portion of the mannequin’s surface. Measured temperatures for each sensor are used with a computer heat-transfer model of human skin to predict a burn injury
The test chamber used to simulate a flash-fire has 12 propane-fuelled torches on 6 stands surround the mannequin. These are computer controlled for ignition and duration of simulated flash-fire.