Flashback Arrestors - your questions answered

Your questions answered on Flashback Arrestors for Oxy, Acetylene and LPG/Propane equipment

 

 

1. What is a FLASHBACK and why is it dangerous?

When a flashback occurs, the flame burns rapidly ‘upstream’, generally causing a loud explosion. If un-checked it can continue through the torch into hoses, regulators and gas bottles/cylinders.

Causes that can trigger a flashback include: Worn or improperly maintained Equipment, Operator Error, improper monitoring of cylinder pressures, and many other causes!

The consequences of a flashback can vary from slight Equipment Damage through to a major gas cylinder explosion resulting in death, injury and/or extensive property damage.

There is no way of predicting just how severe the effects will be, which is why you need to protect yourself against a flashback.

 

2. What is a FLASHBACK ARRESTOR (FBA) and what does it do?

A flashback arrestor is designed to contain a flashback, and prevent it from penetrating into “upstream equipment” (e.g hoses, regulators and gas cylinders).

The main parts of a WELDCLASS® Flashback Arrestor and their functions are;

  1. Non-Return Valve: this stops the reverse flow (back surge) of gas
  2. Sintered Flame Filter: this blocks the flame
  3. Thermal Activated Cut-Off Valve: (fitted to regulator mounted models only). In case of a sustained (continuous) flashback or backfire, this valve will close and stop the flow of gas in any direction. 

 

 

3. What are the current safety requirements?

The Australian standard AS4839-2001 (“The safe use of portable and mobile oxy-fuel gas systems….”) calls for the use of flashback arrestors (see Clause 7.3). Because of this standard, flashback arrestors are a mandatory requirement according to Health and Safety Authorities in Australian states and territories.

 

4. So….Why should I fit flashback arrestors?

Ask yourself “can I afford not to fit flashback arrestors?”. If you don’t have flashback arrestors fitted to your oxy equipment, you are exposing yourself many risks, including;

  1. The potential ‘physical’ consequences of a flashback: Equipment and property damage and injury to persons and/or death
  2. Breach of OH&S / WHS regulations and requirements
  3. Potential legal and financial consequences of a flashback; litigation, insurance cover ‘disqualification’, etc 

 

 

5. Don’t fool yourself…. It can and does happen!

This photo demonstrates the damage that can occur from an explosion involving gas cylinders.

 Van explosion image 1.jpg

 

6. So, how many flashback arrestors do I need, and where should I fit them?

Australian Standard AS4839-2001 (“The safe use of portable and mobile oxy-fuel gas systems….”) specifies that for “optimum” protection, Flashback Arrestors should be fitted to:

  • Both the regulator and the torch

  • Both the oxygen line and fuel gas (Acetylene or LPG) line

For full details refer to AS4839-2001, Clause 7.3

 

7. What gases require flashback arrestors?

There is potential for flashback to occur with any oxy-fuel system, whether you use oxy-acetylene or oxy-LPG (oxy-propane).

The flashback can occur on either the oxy or the fuel gas line, which is why FBAs should be fitted to each gas line.

 

8. Are all Flashback Arrestors the same?

No! 

Here's what you need to look out for to ensure that the flashback arrestors you choose will protect you and perform when you need them to;

Compliance with AS4603

AS4839-2001 (“The safe use of portable and mobile oxy-fuel gas systems….”) also specifies that all Flashback Arrestors must be manufactured according to the Standard AS4603. This is very important, because if an arrestor does not comply to this standard, there is no guarantee that it will stop flashback!

If you are purchasing flashback arrestors, or if you already have them fitted to your equipment, always check the labels to make sure they comply to Australian Standards AS4603. If you own flashback arrestors, and you cannot determine that they comply with AS4603, do yourself a favour: Dispose of them and fit Arrestors that do comply.

Independantly Tested / Certified

AS4603 states that to be compliant, FBAs must be tested by an independant qualified 3rd party. If the FBA has been independantly tested, normally this will be indicated on the label or packaging. 

Weldclass Flashback Arrestors are independantly tested / certified by Apragaz laboratory (Europe), and this is clearly indicated on the packaging and on the FBA itself. 

Thermal Cut-Off Valve

This is an important safety feature, however not all FBAs have a Thermal cut-off valve. In case of a sustained (continuous) flashback or backfire, if the internal temperature of the FBA reaches an unsafe level this valve will close and stop the flow of gas in any direction. Without this feature, if a sustained flashback occurs there is a risk that the FBA will fail. 

AS4839-2001 also specifies that for optimum protection, regulator-mounted Flashback Arrestors should have a thermal cut-off valve. The label on the FBA will indicate if it has a thermal cut-off valve. Sometimes this is shown via a "[TV]" symbol.
If you cannot see any reference to a thermal valve (on the regulator-mount FBA) on the label, then you can assume that it does not have this safety feature.

 

WELDCLASS® Flashback Arrestors

  • Conform to AS4603 and EN730

  • Independantly certified by Apragaz laboratory, Belgium, Europe

  • Each FBA is individually flame, flow and leak tested for peace of mind

 

 

 

 

Periodic Testing or Replacement

If you have flashback arrestors fitted, you should also be aware that Australian Standards AS4603 and AS4839 specify that all flashback arrestors must be tested (or replaced) at least every 12 months, and in the event of a flashback. Testing should be conducted by qualified repairers.

 

 

Disclaimer: While all care has been taken, Weldclass accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, errors or omissions in the content of this webpage or in any attachments. The information given is of a general nature only and does not take into account the specific circumstances of any individual person or organisation. Some information given may reflect the personal opinion of an individual. All product specifications are subject to change without notice. Any comments regarding the intended or suggested application for any product is for general description and identification purposes only. It is the sole responsibility of the user and/or owner and/or purchaser to select the appropriate product for their intended purpose and to ensure that the product selected is capable of performing correctly and safely in the intended application. E.&O.E.

Comments
  • Date: 25-Jun-2019
    Weldclass Weldclass

    Richard, testing frequency as stipulated in AS4839 is 12 calendar months (not hours of use).
  • Date: 20-Jun-2019
    Richard Penberthy sharpe engineering pty ltd

    Frequency of Flashback Arrestor testing is stated as 12 monthly. Usage rates vary, is this a calendar 12 months or 12 months of use i.e. 2000 hours of use? Thanks. regards, Richard
  • Date: 06-May-2019
    Weldclass Team JWL Marketing Pty Ltd

    Richard – You are right, there is not a lot of detail in AS4603 to define what a competent person is. Typically this testing is conducted by companies with a FBA testing machine/device – usually these companies will have staff that are trained to use the device (the tests are relatively straightforward). We will email you directly with some further comments on this.
  • Date: 12-Mar-2019
    Richard Penberthy Sharpe Engineering P/L

    The standards etc. state that flashback arrestor testing is to be done by a competent person. What qualification, level of training, trade certification etc. deems a person competent in this area? I've yet to find a definition of what "competent" is. Thanks. Regards, Richard
  • Date: 31-Jan-2019
    Weldclass Team

    James, Chris, thank you for your questions. When using LPG/propane only, the risk of a flashback is a lot lower compared to using LPG/propane with Oxygen. To our knowledge, Australian standards do not specifically demand the use of FBAs with LPG/propane-only equipment. However some work sites and companies do specify that FBAs should be used on all flame equipment, regardless of whether it is with oxygen or not. To 100% protect against all risk of flashback, then we recommend that FBAs are used on all flame equipment.
  • Date: 30-Jan-2019
    James WBJV

    Whether Falsh back arrestor is required on heating torch which is operated using Butane Gas
  • Date: 27-Nov-2018
    Chris PPQ

    Do I need to fit a flashback arestor if I am only using LPG or Propane for a blow torch. With no oxygen or air feed.
  • Date: 29-Aug-2018
    Weldclass

    Charles, a flashback can occur when using LPG (in particular Oxy-LPG equipment) so yes we recommend FBAs for this application also.
  • Date: 29-Aug-2018
    Weldclass

    Tony, thank you for your question. As mentioned in this article, Australian standard AS4839 specifies that Flashback arrestors should be tested (or replaced) every 12 months and replaced after no more than 5 years.
  • Date: 28-Aug-2018
    charles NPC

    Hi, whether if we use Liquid Petroleum Gas for any Hot work activities, is it required FBA ?, your advises are more valuable.
  • Date: 28-Aug-2018
    Tony Baca

    How long does a flash back arrestor last with regular use. How often should I replace them
  • Date: 27-Aug-2018
    Weldclass

    Hello Kailash, Reasons why we recommend FBAs to be fitted to both regulator and torch are: 1) As mentioned in this article, Austrlaian standard AS4839 specifies that for optimum protection, flashback arrestors should be fitted to both regulator and torch. 2) To minimise potential damage or injury from a flashback, it should stopped/blocked as close as possible to the source. The most common source of a flashback is the torch, therefore fitting FBAs to the torch will prevent the flashback from progressing further. 3) If FBAs were fitted to the torch only, this would not provide protection in the event of (for example) hoses or fittings becoming damaged (leaking/cut/ruptured) and a flahback starting "upstream" of the torch. By fitting FBAs to regulators as well, they become the "last line of defence" to prevent the flashback entering the regulators &/or gas cylinders which would potentially cause massive explosion. We trust that this helps answer your questions!
  • Date: 24-Aug-2018
    Kailash

    Please tell me, whether i have to provide flashback arrester on both sides i.e torch side and cylinder side and why. suppose if I provide flashback arrester on only on torch side then it will prevent the backflow and arrest the flashing if any undesirable event happen then why I have to provide flashback arrester on cylinder side.
  • Date: 17-Aug-2018
    Weldclass

    Damien, thank you for your question. As mentioned in comments below & information above, AS4839-2001 stipulates that FBA's & other equipment must be periodically tested. So for this reason, yes records need to be kept. This could be via tags attached to the equipment or via a register where each item is given an "asset number" and details on servicing are kept in central list/record. Hope this helps!
  • Date: 16-Aug-2018
    Damian Clarke Complete Plumbing Contracting

    Is there a requirement for records to be kept on Oxy/Acet FBA's and equipment?
  • Date: 14-May-2018
    Weldclass

    Paul – a flashback arrestor is arguably more critical for oxygen than any other gas. Many user don’t realise that oxygen is explosive - for example if it comes into contact with grease or oil (inside hoses, torches, regulators etc) this can cause an explosion, which can include flashback and fire. In short – yes flashback arrestors for Oxygen are essential !
  • Date: 09-May-2018
    Paul

    I can understand oxy acetylene gas needing a flashback arrestor BUT why would OXYGEN need a flashback arrestor ?
  • Date: 07-Feb-2018
    mohd azizi abd hadi SIB MALAYSIA

    The FBA also required for ARGON cylinder?can you describe what gases cylinder and doesnt need?
  • Date: 03-Jan-2018
    Weldclass

    Thank you for your comment/questions Kumaran. Australian Standard AS4839-2001 (“The safe use of portable and mobile oxy-fuel gas systems….”) specifies that Flashback Arrestors should be tested every 12 months and replaced every 5 years. 12 monthly tests should be conducted by a qualified party and should include flow, reverse flow & leak tightness. We recommend that you refer to AS4839-2001 standard. This can be purchased from https://infostore.saiglobal.com.
  • Date: 25-Dec-2017
    Kumaran

    1. Can I know? Is there any expiry date for the FBA? 2. How often We need to check the FBA? 3. And how to check the same?
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