Boiler Safety

The safe operation of any steam generation system is dependent on effective safety control equipment and on the operator's ability to control boiler parameters. Operators must understand the operation of the plant, how to avoid emergency situations, and how to respond in any potential emergency. Since boilers are a source of numerous potential hazards, the importance of boiler safety cannot be overemphasized.

The safety valve(s) is the most critical valve on the boiler system. Its purpose is to limit the internal boiler pressure to a point below its safe operating level. For safe operation, one or more safety valves must be installed in an approved manner on the boiler pressure parts so that they cannot be isolated from the steam space. The valve must be set to activate at an approved set-point pressure and must be able to carry all of the steam that the boiler can generate without exceeding the specified pressure rise.

Various elements of the fuel firing, combustion air, and feedwater systems are critical for safe operation. Perhaps the most important burner control function is to prevent furnace explosions that could threaten the safety of operating personnel and damage the boiler and auxiliary equipment. Draft control systems must maintain furnace pressure at a desired set point and prevent furnace overpressurization or implosion. Drum water level measurement is another critical safety feature. An insufficient head of water may cause a reduction in watertube circulation, causing tubes to overheat and fail.

Identification of and compliance with all safety issues and prevailing operating codes, along with rigorous safety training for all operators, is paramount and must override all other issues. Safety instructions should also be posted in environmentally protected casings so that they are clearly visible to all operators and personnel in the boiler operating area.

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