For most explosions to occur, the three elements of the “fire triangle” must come together in one place. The three elements of the fire triangle are (1) a fuel source; (2) oxygen; and (3) an ignition source.
Many times, investigations and news articles will focus on the ignition source of a fire or explosion. However, our fire and explosion lawyers have learned that sometimes this emphasis is misplaced. This is because, critically, if any one of the three legs of the fire triangle is eliminated, there will be no fire. There will be no explosion.
Frequently, companies are negligent (or even grossly negligent) in failing to recognize that, as opposed to attempting to eliminate all ignition sources, safe work practice and a safe work environment can be more reasonably achieved by eliminating oxygen or a fuel source from the work scenario. In the oilfield, there is a saying about this, which goes “if you have oxygen and you have a fuel source, the ignition source will find you.”