Electrical Fires and Explosions


After ten years of preparation, the brand-new Electrical Fires and Explosions book has been published and is available for sale. This is the first-ever book to comprehensively cover the scientific and technical aspects of electrical fires and failures, along with electrical explosions. The book is nearly 1300 pages long and is tightly-set in a two-column format; 8.5 x 11 inch size. The book features:

  • 256 tables
  • 1346 figures
  • 5187 references

The book is printed in full color, on coated stock. Consequently, all photographs which were available in color are reproduced in color here.

The topics covered in the book can be seen from the table of contents, below.

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Limited to one per customer

SKU: 9780972811101 Category:


From the Foreword of the new book, by Prof. B. Don Russell, of Texas A&M University, who is a preeminent authority on electrical utility reliability: “In his characteristically-focused, obsessively-detailed manner, Dr. Babrauskas has compiled the first-ever and certainly the most comprehensive collection of documents on electrical fire ignition science. His decades of experience in fire research, experimentation, and forensic investigations have enabled him to comprehensively characterize electrical ignition science, covering without compromise the subtleties of each subject.

Table of Contents

Electrical explosions have been researched much less than electrical fires. Nonetheless, they are an important failure mode and can result in death, injury, or property damage. Dr. Babrauskas is the first author to comprehensively survey the entire field of electrical explosions, and these findings form an important part of this treatise. Electrical explosions are accompanied by thermal radiation, which is termed arc flash. In the last few decades, there has been extensive industry-sponsored research on this topic. The new book reviews the research and the resulting standards, but also focuses on shortcomings and science misinterpretations of the current generation of industrial standards.

Perhaps the most striking new finding to be found in the book is a reanalysis of the Paschen Curve. For over a hundred years, electrical engineers have been taught that the breakdown voltage for air at normal (1 atm) pressure reaches a minimum of 340 volts at 0.007 mm, then rises rapidly for smaller gap spacings. Countless EE textbooks have published this curve over the years. Unfortunately, after comprehensive reviewing of the primary literature, it is concluded that this U-shaped graph is wrong. Instead, the breakdown voltage approaches zero as the gap spacing approaches zero. Readers will find the entire fascinating history of this laid out in the new book.

The new book is intended to be useful for several different categories of users, including electrical engineers, forensic scientists, fire safety specialists, and fire investigators. Same as the author’s previous Ignition Handbook, sections are dedicated to mathematical developments, which will be of interest to scientists and engineers. But other sections are focused on the needs of fire investigators, where it is not assumed that the reader has a science background. In addition, the last chapter of the book is wholly dedicated to the fire investigation process. This chapter does not repeat or summarize the electrical fires content of NFPA 921. Instead, it assumes the fire investigator is already familiar with NFPA 921 and well-versed in fire investigation techniques. What the chapter provides is new material which supplements and expands upon the basics given in NFPA 921.

The author’s 2003 treatise, the Ignition Handbook, was the largest-ever book in the fire safety field prepared by a single author. Only the NFPA Handbook of Fire Protection and the SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering were larger treatises, but each counts hundreds of individuals as authors. With the publication of the new Electrical Fires and Explosions, this new book now surpasses the Ignition Handbook and becomes the largest fire safety treatise by a single author: it exceeds the latter by nearly 200 pages. It is also the first large tome on fire safety to be produced with almost wholly all-color photographs.

Each chapter of the book has been peer-reviewed by recognized subject matter experts.

The Electrical Fires and Explosions book can be ordered here. There are no sales through wholesalers, distributors, or bookstores.

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