1. #1
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    Default Water Tower Fire Presents Some Unique Challenges

    Have you ever had a fire in a place with extremely difficult access?


    From the Barrie Examiner

    Water tower fire sends firefighters to hospital

    By IAN MCINROY
    Local News - Friday, June 25, 2004 @ 07:00

    Five Barrie firefighters were taken to hospital after a fire in one of the city’s water towers on Wednesday.

    Fire crews were dispatched to the Mapleview Drive water storage structure just before 5 p.m., said Barrie fire and emergency services platoon chief Jeff Catteau. It is currently unused and being repainted at a cost of almost $532,000.

    “Workers were painting the inside of the tower. A light bulb blew, which caused a vapour fire and the tarps they were using ignited,” he said on Thursday.

    “The paint was water-reactive.You can’t use water to extinguish it. We had to use fire fighting foam to extinguish it.”

    Catteau said fire crews in full 45-pound gear climbed 125 feet up an internal ladder inside the concrete pillar to a catwalk to put out the fire.

    Four firefighters from the crew that initially responded were transported to Royal Victoria Hospital for observation of heat exhaustion.
    A fifth suffered a minor knee injury.

    All were released later in the evening.

    Brian Stuhlemmer of the ministry of environment in Barrie confirmed the storage tower was emptied and isolated from the distribution system during the maintenance.

    Ministry staff were on scene to determine if there was any potential risk to human health from contaminated drinking water.

    “We understand that the coating being used by the contracting company (was) essentially non-flammable. There was a small volume of flammable materials used inside the structure at the time of the fire.

    “It is believed that there is no risk posed to drinking water consumers,” said Stuhlemmer yesterday, adding the ministry’s investigation is continuing.

    No charges are anticipated at this time, he added.

    Rick Newlove of the city’s engineering department said the fire will probably set back the project’s scheduled completion date of July 31 by only a few days.

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    During my advanced rope rescue class we spent a day inside a water tower and it just gave me the creeps. I don't have any idea why either..

    That being said, It is a long ways up, and its at a 90 degree climbing angle (straight up) Also, when you get to the bottom of the dome and have to climb through the center of that to get into the dome, it is quite small, I imagine that would suck quite a bit getting through there in full turnouts.

    I wonder, however, provided there were no victims trapped (I skimmed the article okay.. give me a break!!) I wonder how difficult it would have been to just call the water department and told them to turn the pumps back on and fill it with water until the fire is suffocated?


    On a side note, during that rope rescue class, a water tower inspector came through to do some routine inspections on this tower and was telling us war stories. One of them involved him being inside an empty dome with some higher up person showing them this and that, when all of a sudden water starts rushing in and the tank starts filling.. I think I may have contaminated the water supply if I was in his shoes if you know what I mean

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    Question Was the Risk Justified?

    Since there wasn't any life safety problem, except the Firefighters themselves, did this Fire have to be suppressed in a conventional manner? Let the discussion begin.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Default Re: Was the Risk Justified?

    Originally posted by ffspo0k
    I wonder how difficult it would have been to just call the water department and told them to turn the pumps back on and fill it with water until the fire is suffocated?
    Depending on the water system & the type/design of the tank (neither of which I know in this case) - it might be anywhere from pretty easy to next to impossible.

    1) Some water tanks (the elevated dome type) have an access door in the waterway itself that bolts on with about a bazillion bolts (o.k. maybe more like 20-30) - if this was the case - may take too long to close/seal the door to refill the tank.

    2) The water supply system has a lot to do with it. Some water systems use these tanks located at high points in the system as "surge supply" meaning they will use the force of gravity to let the water in these tanks into the system when demand exceeds regular capacity. These types of tanks may only be filled by rather low capacity (i.e. slow) pumps or even by "excess" system pressure during low demand periods (again very slow to fill).

    3) Once you fill this tank w/ water - it is now contaminated water due to the "junk' in the tank - do we really want to have to dispose of an extremely large quantity of contaminated water?

    4) There is most likely no means of preventing back flow (after all water is supposed to go into and out of this tank) so you run the risk of contaminating the entire water system or at least a larger portion of it.

    FWIW - My father was in public works for years - learned a lot about municipal water systems from him.

    Originally posted by ffspo0k
    On a side note, during that rope rescue class, a water tower inspector came through to do some routine inspections on this tower and was telling us war stories. One of them involved him being inside an empty dome with some higher up person showing them this and that, when all of a sudden water starts rushing in and the tank starts filling..
    Good reason to follow Proper Confined space permit entry & Lock-out/Tag-out procedures.


    Originally posted by hwoods
    Since there wasn't any life safety problem, except the Firefighters themselves, did this Fire have to be suppressed in a conventional manner? Let the discussion begin.
    O.K. Chief - I'll bite.

    I say no - it didn't have to simply based on Risk v. Benefit. There's nothing in the tank to "save" so why endanger the men to begin with.

    I'll even scoot myself further out on the limb. The tank itself is Non-flammable, the report states that the coating material in use was "essentially non-flammable", therefore the only flammable material in the tank were some tarps (according to the report) and perhaps some application equipment. Why not just isolate the space (kill power and ignition sources), close the access door/hatch and apply water to the exterior as needed (if at all) to keep the steel from heating & expanding till the fire burns itself out ?
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
    Stephen
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    Why not just isolate the space (kill power and ignition sources), close the access door/hatch and apply water to the exterior as needed (if at all) to keep the steel from heating & expanding till the fire burns itself out ?
    I thought I was missing something because I was wondering the same thing. What's left to burn once the initial fuel gets consumed?

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