It is 11am on a warm late-summer day. You are dispatched to a "tractor trailer truck fire" on an interstate highway.
While responding, dispatch advises you that the vehicle is towing a gasoline tanker, and the tractor is fully involved.
Arriving on scene, you stop 1/4 mile from scene and view a completeley engulfed tractor attatched to a flammable liquids trailer. The vehicle is upright, and pulled to the side of the road. The driver is with police, and he reports that most of the 8,000 gallons of gasoline is still on board. He states the fire started in the area of the tractor's fuel tanks and quickly spread to the rest of the tractor. He was unable to extinguish the fire with an extinguisher, and quickly retreated as the fire grew in intensity.
Another engine has blocked of the interstate below the scene. You have mutual aid readily available, including ARFF from 2 nearby airports.
Surrounding the interstate is a residential area, along with light commercial buildings, and a marina. Run-off from any spill would quickly enter the watershed to the marina (< 1/4 mile away).
How would you handle the situation?
What do you think of sending a crew in with handlines and, using some class A foam, trying to knock down the fire in hopes of preventing a tank failure/fireball?
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09-11-2001, 12:12 AM #1
Tractor Fire with a Gasoline Tanker Trailer
09-11-2001, 04:58 AM #2
- Join Date
- Aug 2000
- dfw tx. usa
How close are your nearest hydrants???"email@example.com"
09-11-2001, 08:53 AM #3
A. Ridge....this looks like the incident your department had the other day!
Request mutual aid for fire and hazmat ops.
Shut down the highway in both directions.
Request the ARFF units from the two nearest airports (my guess is Portland..who is the 2nd ARFF equipped airport within the area..Pease ANG?)
Handlay supply lines to the nearest hydrants in the residential/industrial areas.
Set up master stream operations if possible. The tractor is a total loss, so use the streams on the tank to cool the vapor space in the tank to prevent a BLEVE Since the truck is pulled over to the side of the road (I am assuming that the TT unit is in the breakdown lane), the rigs would be parked on the opposite side of the highway using the median as a buffer zone and in one of the adjacent areas. I would be prepared to go to master stream foam ops and do it until the ARFF units arrive.
Request the hazmat team to set up dikes to divert runoff from the marina area.
Gladly pass command to the Chief!"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY
09-11-2001, 11:21 AM #4
Depending on the preburn,let it burn and protect exposures.Gonzo,you ever see a "gas can" BLEVE?They melt before that can happen.If you remember this happened in OOB and DEP had a minimized cleanup as a result of the no intervention action there.If you can SAFELY attack and extinguish the fire before it involves the trailer by all means do so.However 8K of heated gas is not a user friendly substance.In answer to the hydrant question on most of that road the answer is:NONE T.C.
[ 09-11-2001: Message edited by: Rescue 101 ]
09-12-2001, 09:53 AM #5
A Ridge,having not seen the picture before I posted I couldn't really picture the trucks location.Looking at the picture it appears the rig is parked ON THE BRIDGE which if memory serves is closer than a quarter mile to the water.In any event congrats for a job very well done,this is one of those tough call events that managed well has a favorable outcome,managed badly well it wouldn't have been pretty.Why don't you post the actual ops. so we all can benefit?T.C.
09-13-2001, 07:41 PM #6
- Join Date
- Feb 2001
- UP TO MY NECK AND SINKING FAST
I would let it burn. The reason for this is that it is not completely full. this means there is a vapor area on top of the fuel in the tank and it is the vapor not the fuel that causes the most severe explosions. If the truck burns down with no explosion then you might can come in and cool every thing down using extreme caution. It is a tuff situation to handle
09-14-2001, 10:02 AM #7
The incident was just south of a bridge, probably just under a 1/4 mile.
As for water supply, our chief initially requested a tanker-shuttle task force to provide an uninterrupted water supply. However, a neighboring department did an excellent job in providing water supply from a hydrant below the interstate... they pumped 4" to the highway, providing for a decent water supply. The tankers were kept as a backup supply.
I questionned the safety of attacking the tractor with handlines, as this necessitates crews being placed extremely close to the incident. This is just my opinion, but I would've refused to send any of my crew to do this.
I've asked the question "what are we saving" and "why bother." The only good answer I've gotten is to prevent a river of burning gasoline from flowing down over the roadside and possible ending up in a coastal marina. However, with 2 ARFF vehicles only 5mins out (Portland and Brunswick Naval Air Station), it is my opinion that they could handle the situation. They could also more efficiently cool the scene to prevent any explosion from occurring in the first place.
If the tanker was so close to exploding that they couldn't wait 5mins for the heavy guns to arrive, I say that's 5mins to close to killing your crew by attacking with handlines in close proximity.
Master stream operations could have been used, but still, you are very close even across the median. I would've only supported a quick lay-in of LDH, and setting up a deck-gun, aiming it, and then removing all personnel from the scene.
Also, the point was made that the situation presented a higher level of danger due to the partial load of gasoline which would allow a space for vapors to collect in. This also worried me greatly, as this would truly cause a big bang.
I'm not a seasoned expert here, nor am I a flammable liquids expert... but I just don't fathom "risking a lot" for nothing. I've always heard and believed in "risk nothing to save nothing." Thanks for the input.
[On approaching the scene after it had been cooled, the tractor was melted to the ground. On the tanker, the aluminum lip around the end of the tank had melted flush to the tank, and the entire front 1/3 was covered in soot. The tanker was almost hot enough to burn your hand. I still didn't feel comfortable being there even after we'd stopped cooling it!]
Last edited by Resq14; 05-24-2011 at 05:11 AM.
10-17-2001, 08:23 PM #8
- Join Date
- Sep 2001
okay this was last summer i worked 2nd shift so i'd be home during the day. I herd tones on my beeper it said all avilable firefighters needed for a gas tractor trailer fire on interstate at milemarker 150 or 160(i forget which).(we're at 97 or 98) well with being a rookie( i'm still a rookie) and plus I'd probably be the only one probably responding cause most of the guys works 1st shift. I didn't respond. Plus there's plenty of full timers between us and milemarker 160. I still don't know why they called us. I never herd the story behind that. plus with my truck being a gas truck I got a slow truck I couldn't even run with interstate traffic
10-24-2001, 06:42 AM #9
- Join Date
- Jul 2001
If anyone here is familiar with Interstate 70 going into Denver, from the ski areas or just travelling then youve passed where we had our tanker fire, last month. Runaway truck ramp mile marker 258 westbound.
8200 Gallons of 1203. Fully involved at dispatch.
We responded with 3 engines, heavy rescue, 2 tenders. I was on first attack engine, we did setup a master stream and flowed about 1,000 gallons mixed with AFFF just to see what we could do. Immediately we blew our tank (lesson learned is the tenders should hav ebeen there immediate resupply, which happened minutes later) although we went defensive.
We consulted with Jefferson County Hazmat 917 departments in adams and jefferson county make this team up)who advised us to let it burn. This would not only save on
cleanup, but allow us to protect ourselves and equipment.
It burned for 2 hours, and they were right, the scene was safer, we re-opened the highway quicker and cleanup was completed sooner.
what are you going to do with the fuel, you cant use it, off loading it may or may not be an option. If it is it costs.
9/11/01 never forget!
The opinions here are my opinions and not that of my department.
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