Flammable Storage Cabinet Prevents Ignition of Flammable Solvents

A laboratory fire started in a refrigerator used for storing experimental samples - small quantities of solvents and other chemicals. It is thought that an electrical fault may have been the cause. Apparently, the fire burned for some time, igniting the plastic refrigerator lining before burning through the door seal and spreading into the room.

The refrigerator was adjacent to a flammable storage cabinet, which contained a large quantity of flammable solvents. A scorch on the right side of the cabinet was caused by the burning refrigerator. A mark at the top of the door was caused by burning material (e.g. plastic light fitting) that dripped on to the cabinet and continued to burn. The photo shows the upper door frame and cabinet interior. Although burning material had dripped into the lap seal above the door, there was no sign of any flame within the cabinet, and the interior paint finish is in original glossy condition.

Soot outlined the storage bottles on the shelf. Although the soot was drawn into the cabinet by the ventilation fan, anti-flash vents prevented flames from entering the cabinet.

 
Conclusion

  • The flammable storage cabinet isolated a large quantity of flammable solvents from the fire, even in close proximity to the seat of ignition.

  • The anti-flash vents allowed the cabinet to breathe but still prevented internal fire.