Oxygen/Acetylene Torch

Oxygen/Acetylene Torch

Safety Alert -- Oxygen/Acetylene Torch

What Happened:
Oxygen/Acetylene Torch Set-up Catches Fire and Explodes

Monday June 18, 2001

Incident Photos:

Safety Alert -- Oxygen/Acetylene Torch image 1Safety Alert -- Oxygen/Acetylene Torch image 2Safety Alert -- Oxygen/Acetylene Torch image3
Safety Alert -- Oxygen/Acetylene Torch 4

Incident Description:
An Ironworker crew was modifying a temporary structural steel bridge using an Oxygen/Acetylene torch setup on a cart, a portable welder, and a grinder. Apparently the Acetylene hose develop a leak and ignited during the grinding operation.

The torch setup was not equipped with a "flashback" arrestor check valve and the fire traveled through the hose into the compressed cylinder.

A worker attempted to extinguish the blaze with a nearby fire extinguisher however he quickly determined that the fire was beyond his capabilities. The area was evacuated and the fire department was immediately dispatched to put out the fire.

Thankfully there were NO injuries.

Property/Equipment Damage:
The Torch Setup and nearby portable welder were damaged beyond repair. A structural engineer s reviewing the garage for possible structural damage.

Lessons Learned:
Workers must inspect tools & equipment daily and immediately remove defective equipment from service.

All Oxygen/Acetylene setups must have a "Flashback" arrestor check valve at the regulators, NOT the torch head, to prevent this type of occurrence. This little device would have prevented this fire.

Preventative Measures:
Literature on Victor "Flashback" Arrestors & Safety Check Valves are attached. Please take a look at all your torch setups on the project and make sure they have the required safety check valves to prevent this from reoccurring.

For improved safety use reverse flow "flashback" arrestor check valves The use of check valves on regulators is strongly recommended to reduce the possibility of reverse flow of gas, which can create a dangerous mixture of fuel and oxygen.

Mixed gases will burn rapidly once the torch is lighted and can explode in the hoses, regulators, or cylinders, resulting in serious damage to the equipment and/or injury to the operator. Reverse flow from one line to another can be caused by:

  • A damaged or plugged tip
  • Loss of pressure in one line
  • A cylinder emptying in use
  • Flashback

Caution: valves should be tested for proper function at least every six months. Careless usage, dirt or abuse can shorten check valve service life and require more frequent testing.