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A dry bay is a separate compartment placed between the area designated for fuel and other flammable materials and the rest of a facility or piece of equipment. This is a safety feature to limit the risk of fire and explosion hazards and can also be used to house control equipment and fuel lines. Dry bays can be seen in ships, aircraft, and other types of equipment and they are especially common in military use. Safety procedures may require a dry bay to be clearly labeled, with doors or access hatches closed at all times to limit the spread of fire if a problem does develop.
In the military, there is a particular concern with fuel and explosives. Enemy fire could penetrate the walls of a fuel compartment, triggering a catastrophic incident. The dry bay is designed to act as a buffer, taking fire before the fuel compartment itself does. There is still a chance that a penetrating round or projectile may go all the way into the fuel compartment, or will damage the structure enough to create a leak, allowing a hazardous situation to develop.
Outside the military, there can still be concerns about friction, damage caused by earthquakes, and other issues leading to explosions and fires. In areas where high volumes of flammable or explosive material are stored, a dry bay may be used for safety. The bay is kept clear of material and cannot be used for generic storage or anything else. Control systems and fuel lines running through the dry bay must be properly installed and insulated to limit risks.
The dry bay design is one among a number of safety features intended to reduce the chances of creating a hazard for people working in or around a facility or piece of equipment where flammable materials are used. The walls of a compartment used for storage of fuel and other materials are usually carefully lined and designed to reduce friction. Alarms sound if leaks develop, alerting people to the early stages of problems, and electronic control systems may automatically close fire doors and activate sprinklers if this appears necessary.
People working in and around a dry bay may be advised to take special precautions. While it may be necessary to have the bay open for access, it should not be left open. Special gear may need to be worn for safety, depending on policies and the type of equipment involved.