INTRODUCTION: THE FIRE AND EXPLOSION INDEX
The Fire and Explosion Risk Analysis System is a step-by-step objective evolution of the realistic fire, explosion and reactivity potential of process equipment and its contents. The quantitative measurements used in the analysis are based on historic data, the energy potential of the material under study, and the extent to which loss prevention practiced are currently applied.
The purpose of the F&FI system is to:
1. QUANTIFY the expected damage of potential fire, explosion and reactivity incidents in realistic terms.
2. IDENTIFY equipment that would be likely to contribute to the creation or escalation of an Incident.
3. COMMUNICATE the F&E1 risk potential to management.
Beneath all the numbers, graphs and figures, however, lies the most important goal of the F&EI System — to make the engineer aware of the loss potential of each process area and to help the engineer identify ways to lessen the severity and resultant dollar loss of potential incidents in an efficient and cost effective manner.
The F&EI is used in the Dow Risk Review Process. Determination of the F&EI must be done in conducting a Process Hazard Analysis or Level I Risk Review.
Insurance company assessment of potential exposures is typically based on the worst imaginable incident. They might anticipate, for example, that the complete contents of a reactor dump could vaporize instantaneously and ignite; and their insurance loss estimates, which are determined in part from this king of analysis, can be extremely large. From a realistic point of view, this kind of situation is rare.
The Dow F&EI systems attempts to determine the realistic maximum loss that can occur to a process plant (or process unit) or related facility — a loss that could actually be experienced the most adverse operating conditions. The calculation is based on quantifiable data. Finite spill rates, process temperature in relation to material flash points and boiling points and reactivity are just a few of the many contributors to a probable incident.
Although the F&EI system is primarily designed for any operation in which a flammable, combustible or reactive material is stored, handled or processed, it may also be used in analyzing the loss potential of sewage treating facilities, distribution systems, pipelines, rectifiers, transformers, boilers, thermal oxidizers and certain elements of power plants. The system can also be used for risk evaluations of small process with modest inventories of potentially hazardous materials; its application to pilot plants is strongly recommended. The system can be applied if handling a minimum of approximately 1,000 Ib (454 Kg) of a flammable or reactive material.
A word of caution is in order for those planning to use the F&EI system for the risk evolution of facilities. Common sense and good judgment must be used during the actual calculation and in the interpretation of its results. Process hazards that contribute to the magnitude and probability of losses have been quantified as "penalties" to provide factors for computation. Not every penalty may be applicable to a specific situation and perhaps some may have to be adjusted.