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Published on Apr 11, 2013
The National Electrical Code (NEC) defines hazardous locations as those areas "where fire or explosion hazards may exist due to flammable gases or vapors, flammable liquids, combustible dust, or ignitable fibers or flyings."
According to the NEC, there are three types of hazardous locations.
The first type of hazard listed, known as a Class I Location, is one which is created by the presence of flammable gases or vapors in the air, such as natural gas or gasoline vapor. When these materials are found in the atmosphere, a potential for explosion exists, which could be ignited if an electrical or other source of ignition is present.
The second type of hazard listed by the National Electrical Code includes those areas made hazardous by the presence of combustible dust. These are referred to in the Code as "Class II Locations." Finely pulverized material, suspended in the atmosphere, can cause a powerful explosion.
Class III Locations, according to the NEC, are areas where there are easily-ignitable fibers or flyings present, due to the types of materials being handled, stored, or processed. The fibers and flyings are not likely to be suspended in the air, but can collect around machinery or on lighting fixtures and where heat, a spark or hot metal can ignite them.