Fire and explosion


In the textile industry, nearly all materials being used are flammable to some degree.

What increases the risk of fire?

What can you do to reduce the risk of fire?

Processes with high fire risk

Carpet making

Cloth production

Opening and carding

Spinning and weaving

Ignition of fly:

Effective controls include good housekeeping and making sure you have good standards of electrical and machinery maintenance.

Finishing processes

These are processes that alter the physical characteristics of the cloth, either by physical means, eg raising or milling, or chemical means, eg crease resistance.

Processes involving a naked flame, eg flame bonding can cause smouldering - keep flame‑bonded materials separate from the main store until the risk has passed.

Stenters used for thermal bonding are a common source of fires - smouldering in the finished reel of material can develop into a fire later.  Also, if the material stops in the stenter, it is important that the heat supply is cut off automatically.  Thermostats can fail, different materials need different temperatures and fires can result if the temperature setting has not been altered.


What can cause an explosion?

Wool dust

Wool dust can cause explosions.  Good housekeeping is essential and LEV may be needed at carding machines to control dust.

Flock dust

Ground flock (rather than precision cut) from mainly cotton, acrylic and nylon fibres, gives a higher risk of explosion.  If dispersed into the atmosphere, eg when cleaning down, it can cause an explosion and/or fire.  Fibres settle quickly, so don't turn gas burners on stenters on for ten minutes after the fans start.

Further information

Case study

Three people died in a fire in a rag-sorting factory.  The fire started in a stack of unwrapped compressed bales of acrylic rags on the ground floor of a two-storey building and spread rapidly across the surface of the bales, producing thick, black smoke.  The smoke, flames and hot combustion products spread through openings to the first floor, where rags were sorted.  There was a series of flashover explosions and within 15 minutes the premises were totally destroyed.

Flammable substances

Information and guidance about storing and working safely with flammable substances:

Updated 2021-05-12