Hyperbaric and hypobaric chamber fires: a 73-year analysis

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Hyperbaric and hypobaric chamber fires: a 73-year analysis

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Title: Hyperbaric and hypobaric chamber fires: a 73-year analysis
Author: Sheffield, PJ; Desautels, DA
Abstract: Fire can be catastrophic in the confined space of a hyperbaric chamber. From 1923 to 1996, 77 human fatalities occurred in 35 hyperbaric chamber fires, three human fatalities in a pressurized Apollo Command Module, and two human fatalities in three hypobaric chamber fires reported in Asia, Europe, and North America. Two fires occurred in diving bells, eight occurred in recompression (or decompression) chambers, and 25 occurred in clinical hyperbaric chambers. No fire fatalities were reported in the clinical hyperbaric chambers of North America. Chamber fires before 1980 were principally caused by electrical ignition. Since 1980, chamber fires have been primarily caused by prohibited sources of ignition that an occupant carried inside the chamber. Each fatal chamber fire has occurred in an enriched oxygen atmosphere (> 28% oxygen) and in the presence of abundant burnable material. Chambers pressurized with air (< 23.5% oxygen) had the only survivors. Information in this report was obtained from the literature and from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society's Chamber Experience and Mishap Database. This epidemiologic review focuses on information learned from critical analyses of chamber fires and how it can be applied to safe operation of hypobaric and hyperbaric chambers.
Description: Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. (http://www.uhms.org )
URI: PMID: 9308138
http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/2275
Date: 1997

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