Gas Leak & Explosion!

"I Suddenly Felt Myself Levitate and I Was Flying Through the Air" 


"I Suddenly Felt Myself Levitate and I Was Flying Through the Air"   The Shawnee Township, OH, Fire Department covers 25 square miles and a population of 14,000. The department responds with three engines, one tanker, one ladder, two advanced life support (ALS) ambulances, a hazmat trailer...


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"I Suddenly Felt Myself Levitate and I Was Flying Through the Air"

 

The Shawnee Township, OH, Fire Department covers 25 square miles and a population of 14,000. The department responds with three engines, one tanker, one ladder, two advanced life support (ALS) ambulances, a hazmat trailer and a foam trailer. It is a combination fire department with 21 full-time firefighters and officers, one chief and 15 volunteer firefighters who are paged in for fire calls. Career staffing consists of seven as a full shift and six is minimum manning. Our sincere appreciation to the members of the Shawnee Township Fire Department and especially to Platoon Chief Todd Truesdale and Chief of Department Tim Mosher.

This account is by Platoon Chief Todd Truesdale:

On Jan. 18, 2008, at 1:07 P.M., we received a call for a gas leak at Tuttle Construction from Byron Winner, Tuttle's newly appointed safety director. He stated he was getting readings of 25% LEL on his four-gas monitor. While responding, dispatch confirmed that the building was evacuated. The all-brick building had a metal roof and was estimated to be 8,500 square feet. It was near other commercial structures, nearest to a bank, grocery store and cement-block manufacturer.

We responded with Engine 1 with Firefighter Dick Oder, Ladder 3 with Firefighter Ron Luttrell, and Rescue 4 with Captain Matt Myers and me. The medic crew, consisting of Firefighter Travis Jackson and Firefighter Mike Smith, was at the hospital from a previous EMS call when the alarm came in. Due to heavy traffic, the placement of apparatus was decided prior to our arrival. Rescue 4 and Engine 1 would be placed in Tuttle's lot on the B side and Ladder 3 would stage at the grocery store. The wind was out of the south/southwest and it was a sunny, cold day.

On arrival, Engine 1 operator Oder asked Captain Myers to pull Rescue 4 forward to make a better shot at the hydrant while I met with company officials near the C side of structure. They confirmed that everyone was out of the structure and with their monitoring of the building, the highest readings they had achieved was 25% of the LEL. Then I asked company officials where the main disconnect and HVAC system shutoffs were; they were deep into the building from the main door entrance. They had also confirmed that the gas leak had originated from a fiber optic cable contractor boring under an access road next to the building and the contractor had hit a gas line. They stated that both the cable contractor and they had notified Dominion Gas of the situation. They were told that we also had our dispatch call Dominion as we were leaving the station, and that Dominion was going to keep its employees clear of the area.

I made a visual on the D side about how far the leak was located from the C side. On returning to meet Captain Myers, another employee from Tuttle asked whether we could move an employee's car because the person had a doctor's appointment. We told the person to have the keys ready when we monitored area and if it was clear, the car could be moved with the understanding that no other cars could move and no one else would be allowed near the building.

As we put on our facepieces, we told the person to move the car and reiterated that nothing else could be moved. Cones had been placed by the contractor and the fire department on the access road on the D side of the building where the leak was located to restrict traffic access. When Captain Myers and I got near the D side, close to the leak, we noted in a mulch area a few feet from the meter, in an area that was dug out and where a boring machine should have come through, that we were getting varying readings on our gas monitor from 11% to 30%. While assessing the situation, we had a couple of contractors involved in the boring approach us near the building, by the leak. We told them to clear out of the area and that we would get with them later as we walked them away from the building.

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