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MIRDC upgrades facilities to strengthen fire prevention

Fires caused by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder have been quite common in the country. From 1995 to 2000, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reported a total of 1,475 LPG-caused fire incidents throughout the country. From 2004 to 2008, BFP again recorded 756 fires caused by LPG tank explosions.

According to the LPG Association of the Philippines , half of the 12 million LPG tanks in the country today are not fit for public use. The group also estimates that out of the six million unfit LPG tanks, three million are for scrapping and could no longer be fixed. Another three million are for requalification or for inspection and certification by concerned government agencies

An LPG tank explodes and causes fire when it has considerable leak. This leak, which may emanate from the hose or from the burner, bursts once the LPG is ignited.  Thus, ensuring the safety of LPG cylinders becomes of utmost importance in preventing fire, particularly in high density household areas.

The Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratory by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Accreditation Office (PAO), has upgraded its fire prevention facilities to address the growing problem on LPG-related fires.          Among the tests conducted by MIRDC on LPG cylinders are radiographic, tension and bending, and bursting.

The radiographic testing detects internal welding defects of the weld joint portion of the LPG cylinder.  It is exposed to radiation with attached film using an industrial X-ray of 300 kVA capacity.

Tension testing involves determining the tensile properties of both materials and weld joints (tensile strength, yield strength, and elongation) using test samples machined to specified dimensions, while bend testing determines ductility of the weld joint.  Both tests are done using a Universal Testing Machine (UTM).

Meanwhile, in the bursting test, the finished LPG cylinder is subjected to a very high pressure using a hydraulic system.  A burst testing equipment is used to prove that the LPG cylinder will not rapture up to at least four times its designed pressure.

These testing processes employed by the MIRDC are in accordance with the Philippine National Standard (PNS).

LPG cylinders require mandatory certification issued by DTI’s Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) for local manufacturers and importers.  The local manufacturers are required to secure Product Safety (PS) mark, while importers have to secure the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC).

Recently, MIRDC’s facilities and expertise in providing technical requirements were featured in ABS-CBN’s morning television program Umagang Kay Ganda in collaboration with the DTI-BPS. -30-

By Marlyn Ramones

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