Spontaneous Ignition Fires In Laundries

The Dangerous and Often Misunderstood Contributing Factors

by Jim Everitt – Fire Professional, Instructor and National Fire Code Contributor

Although most laundry facility managers are aware of fire dangers, many remain unaware of measures they can take to significantly reduce the odds of fire in their facility. The first step is to understand what can cause the conditions for a fire to erupt. The second step is to minimize those conditions.

Midnight Blaze Strikes Prison- Chino, CA
The laundry at the California Institute for Men sustained heavy damage during an early morning fire. Investigators contribute the fire to spontaneous combustion of items which had been removed from hot dryers and placed in polyethylene plastic transport carts. The loss was estimated at $1.5 million.

Hotel Fire Causes $1.5 Million Loss – Orlando, FL
According to officials, the fire at the Marriott Orlando Hotel, which originated in the hotel laundry, was the result of linens, self-combusting in a laundry cart. The fire, which was reported about midnight, completely destroyed the building which housed the hotel’s laundry and maintenance facility.

After Hours Blaze Guts Nursing Home Laundry – Litchfield, IL
The County Care Center Laundry, which served five area nursing homes, was totally destroyed in a $1.5 million fire which started several hours after the plant closed. The fire originated in the linens which had been piled in a cart. The source of ignition was spontaneous combustion caused by residual chemicals in the laundered fabric reacting to the heat of the dryer

These are only 3 examples of the thousands of reported fires that could have been prevented, saving millions of dollars in facility damage.

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