Thread: tanker fire

  1. #1
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    Question tanker fire

    I am wondering what some opinions would be regarding a call my department recently had. I will give some details. Let me know what you think:

    My department was alerted to a tanker fire on a Friday afternoon about 12:30pm. We responded with our small rescue truck (250 gal tank) and one engine company. Upon arrival one member was already on scene in his personal vehicle standing next to the tanker. (In route we were told that it was a diesel tanker from the local fuel distributor.) When we got off the engine, no one had checked the placard yet to see what we were dealing with or how to handle it. Found out that the last thing in the tanker was creosote and the residue inside the tanker had caught on fire when some repair welding was being done to the tank. We had light to medium smoke coming out of the access tower and the front air valve. How would you handle extinguishment of this fire? The first suggestion by officers on scene was to send a fireman down inside the tank to see what we had and how much fire there still was in the tank. We eventually just flooded the tank with water until the smoke cleared and we no longer had any heat showing on our heat sensor along the outside of the tank. Let me know. I appreciate your suggestions.

  2. #2
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    Flooding it with water is what would have done. I sure wouldnt have ordered anyone inside.

  3. #3
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    Sending someone into that was not a bright idea. There is no reason to take an offensive posture on a container fire of that nature. There are three good options. Close it back up and let it suffocate, Use HI-EX foam or do what you did. Options to what you did could have included the use of a piercing nozzle but thats about it.

  4. #4
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    What you did was 100% right. Sending someone into the tank should never have been considered, even if you had specialized equipment and training that would have been the wrong decision. It's time for IC's and Chiefs to learn about hazmat and special operations.

    In october we had a tanker fire of our own, this time it was just plain old gasoline, 8200 gallons. Fully involved upon dispatch.

    We initially deployed a blitz line with foam, just as a defensive action to protect the crew and truck, we also had some exposures and we needed the line for them if the fire ignited the hillside.

    Our strategy was to let it burn out, which was wise and most hazmat experts agreed with this decision. In the end we were involved in suppression for less time, avoided unnecessary risk, as the gas at that point was useless anyway, and we were in rehab soon after. The only mistake we made was not immedialtely resupplying the engine that used water, took 15 minutes to get our tender to the engine, while another tender stood by at an engine that did not use water. This however was addressed at the critique.

  5. #5
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    sounds like you guys did ok, hi ex foam is not to bad of an idea if you have it, deffinetly never risk a life to see whats inside a tank,

    never underestimate anything

  6. #6
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    Interesting question!

    Probably secure the immediate area. Doesn't sound like there was a risk of the incident getting worse -- i.e. failure of the tanker, or exposures.

    I'd contact our State DEP Haz-Mat unit for guidance. Flooding is quite effective -- but now you have a tanker full of contaminated water that probably shouldn't be drained down the sewer.

    Hi-EX foam (who has that anymore?) or even CAFS might reduce the amount of water needed. Class B and probably Hi-EX foams usually aren't environmentally friendly, so can't dump those down a drain either though. Class A is better, but still with creosote contamination it's a disposal problem.

    In our case, I'd let DEP decide what they want to do -- let it burn out, or flood it and have the owner pay to dispose of the water.

    And no, don't send someone into a confined space just to see what it looks like!
    IACOJ Canine Officer
    20/50

  7. #7
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    A little bit of several ideas might work here too, Get a good shot of water in it to create steam, then shut the lid and let it sit for a few to see what kind of effectiveness you get from the steam. As with most small tankers, there is I'm sure a fill valve, or possibly a drain valve that you could adapt up to to fill it from the bottom up, to only use as much water as needed.

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