The causes of dust collector fires are summarized nicely by the “fire triangle.” This graphic includes the three primary components of a fire: a fuel source, oxygen and heat.
Unfortunately, a dust collector brings two of these elements together very efficiently: fuel and oxygen. Many dusts and fumes found in manufacturing facilities are combustible. If air quality is being properly controlled, these substances are likely being pulled into dust collectors. This, along with the filter media itself, is the fuel. A steady airflow through the dust collector ensures that oxygen is always present, as well. All that is left to produce a fire is a heat or ignition source.
Ignition sources are usually not hard to find in manufacturing facilities. Processes such as welding, grinding and metal cutting produce a steady stream of sparks, any one of which could start a fire. If these sparks are not extinguished before they hit the filter media, a fire could result.