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  1. #1
    Disillusioned Subscriber Steamer's Avatar
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    Default EMS bag ignites on Ladder Truck

    I was sent this info by one of our state investigators. It warrants an alert in several areas of these forums, but I'm only listing it here. This occured in the Virginia Beach, VA area.
    The crew of ladder 16 narrowly escape major injury and a large fire that could have burned the rig up. After checking off the ems bag, it was zipped back up and placed back in the compartment. The MRL bag was placed on top. The FF then removed the suction bag and started to check it off when fire emitted from the ems bag. The FF grabbed the bag and tossed in on the bay floor where other FF's tried to extinguish it. The relief valve was sounding and the impinging flame from the relief valve caused the cylinder to fail. Notice the breech in the cylinder wall at the shoulder of the cylinder. No one was injured in the fire or cylinder failure, but imagine the burn to the face level of a FF when the cylinder failed if it was still in the compartment.

    A preliminary investigation suggest that the ignition sequence could have been a pen light (found melted to the underside of the cylinder) and under the pen light was a adjustable wrench. The O2 somehow leaked and saturated the bag. The ems bag was replaced back in the compartment and MRL placed on top. The weight of the MRL compressed the cylinder on the penlight against the wrench.

    This information is still preliminary and was put together with the help of BC Mike Gurley, BC Vance Cooper and John Lyons.

    We will attempt to find the cause of the oxygen leak through a couple of channels formally. As more information comes forward, we will certainly let you know.

    It is amazing that these circumstances (Dominos) can come together and cause such a terrible event---but no one was hurt this time (except for noise exposure), and damage was confined to equipment. Please check your ems gear and make sure pen lights are not floating in the bottom of the bag and that your wrench is plastic or non-sparking and that you have the regulator gasket/o-ring in place and you turn the O2 completely off.

    Pressurized gases including oxygen and air are dangerous and you need to handle them carefully.
    This is the bay floor where the bag was tossed.


    This is what's left of the gear bag.


    This is the breach of the O2 tank.


    Another view of the tank breach.


    Another breach shot, and the point where the penlight was melted to the tank.


    The penlight welded to the wrench.


    The penlight and wrench after the penlight was removed.
    Last edited by Steamer; 02-21-2005 at 11:51 AM.
    Steve Gallagher
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  2. #2
    Forum Member stm4710's Avatar
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    Is possible to find the position of the regulator,valve steam and gasket condition ?
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  3. #3
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the story and pics, Steve.. that is an attention getter!
    ‎"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."
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  4. #4
    Disillusioned Subscriber Steamer's Avatar
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    Is possible to find the position of the regulator,valve steam and gasket condition ?
    If you look at the first picture of the tank, you'll see the remains melted to the side of the tank that I believe is part of the penlight, so you can kind of picture the position of the tank from that. I know we've had problem with the seals at the regulator yoke attachement point, but if the tank is turned off, that won't leak. We've also occassionally had issues with the packing gland nut at the tank valve leaking. I'm thinking this may have been a problem with this tank as well. Otherwise, why would they be carrying a crescent wrench with the portable O2 set? I can't imagine why they would be carrying it in that kit otherwise. We have a crescent wrench on the truck, but it's kept with the on board tanks to change them as they empty. I'd love to get my hands on that stuff to see how the pieces all fit together first hand.

    The one thing that makes me kind of shake my head is the comment about the "impingement" of the flame from the relief valve. Since oxygen itself isn't flammable, flame impngement from the relief valve is impossible. There had to be something else to cause a "flame impingment". It may seem kind of picky on my part, but if you're going to make those assumptions, the science better support you. My theory is that the bag itself or something inside was burning near the neck of the tank, and the oxygen leak fed the fire causing higher than normal temperatures. When the relief valve failed, it increased the temperature much as it does with a blow torch, just a lot less efficiently.
    Steve Gallagher
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    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    DAMN!
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    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    Thanks for the story and pics, Steve.. that is an attention getter!
    WOW...No Kiding

    They are lucky that cylinder didnt go balistic.
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  7. #7
    Forum Member Co11FireGal's Avatar
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    Hmmm...glad that my department doesn't run EMS, and therefore has no O2.

    I know that it's two entirely different things...O2 vs. compressed air, but does anyone know of any SCBA cylinders rupturing and the outcome? Just kinda makes me wonder...
    IACOJ

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    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Co11FireGal
    Hmmm...glad that my department doesn't run EMS, and therefore has no O2.

    I know that it's two entirely different things...O2 vs. compressed air, but does anyone know of any SCBA cylinders rupturing and the outcome? Just kinda makes me wonder...
    I dont know...I always thought it was any compressed air/gas cylinder.
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  9. #9
    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    Thanks for the Heads-Up, Steamer........ Congrats to the brother with the quick thinking to get it out of the truck right away........
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
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    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    At first I thought I was going to read about a cylinder that did not have a brass regualtor, I was wrong.......WOW ! I wonder when the last hydrostat on the bottle was ? was it over pressurized ?
    but does anyone know of any SCBA cylinders rupturing and the outcome?
    .....yes there was one in California that let loose through a passenger "high-side" compartment. I think you may be able to find it on the NIOSH site. I also know that one of the FF mags ran the story too, it happened a few years ago I will try and drudge up a link.
    Last edited by Weruj1; 02-22-2005 at 12:40 AM.
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  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber Engine58's Avatar
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    We were talking about this at the firehouse tonight with a couple of the new guys that are getting ready to go to the academy tomorrow morning how important it is to take care of the SCBA bottles.I tried looking for photo's or stories on the SCBA bottle failures but couldnt find any...they are extremely lucky with that O2 bottle...We were in the ER one day finishing up an EMS job and one of the guys on the rigs knocked over an 02 tank sitting behind the curtain in the next room over from us and knocked it on the floor...Between the clang of the bottle..and the air leaking out and bottle spinning on the floor in circles I took off like a bat outta hell..the ER staff wasnt to pleased but it wasnt our fault they didnt properly secure the tank...
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  12. #12
    Forum Member jerrygarcia's Avatar
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    Not so serious post;

    That's exactly why EMS should be left to the pumpers, rescues and ambulances.


  13. #13
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  14. #14
    Forum Member Co11FireGal's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Engine58
    We were talking about this at the firehouse tonight with a couple of the new guys that are getting ready to go to the academy tomorrow morning how important it is to take care of the SCBA bottles.I tried looking for photo's or stories on the SCBA bottle failures but couldnt find any...
    Yeah I have been looking too with no luck. I remember being around the station as a little kid and hearing how important it was to take care of bottles...cylinders yes I know...but anyway that got me to thinking about the first time they let me try on an SCBA...I think I was 13, maybe 14, and after hearing all of the "be very carefuls" for so long I was terrified the bottle would rupture and I'd take off like a character from the Roadrunner cartoon... Now, they assured me that this just could not happen, but obviously cylinders do rupture...now I'm really curious...I know that I have been in plenty of situations where my bottle has gotten knocked around pretty good. It happens...so how much does it take?? I've seen bottles dropped from compartments and hit the cement with no damage...so obviously they can take a beating, even though it's far from reccomended to let one hit the ground like that.

    Thanks for the link Weruj1.
    Last edited by Co11FireGal; 02-22-2005 at 12:57 AM.
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    Co11firegal - From my understanding its where you hit the bottle that counts, not how many times the bottle has been hit. Obviously if you drop it on the regulator neck from any considerable distance its going to crack and turn into a missle, but you can drop it on its side and bottom quite a bit without it suffering much damage.

    That being said, around here if a bottle gets dropped, it gets emptied and placed out of service until a hydrostat test clears it for service again.

  16. #16
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    fragmentation chambers for filling SCBA bottles are now required for a reason...
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    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jerrygarcia
    Not so serious post;

    That's exactly why EMS should be left to the pumpers, rescues and ambulances.

    So...only o2 bottles on trucks can blow up?
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  18. #18
    Forum Member SafetyPro's Avatar
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    Default Re: this was the one ...........

    There was an article and picture of this incident in Firehouse back around the time it happened. The compartment door was literally torn off the engine in question as I remember, and I believe there was some damage to the bay wall adjacent to the engine as well.

    I used to use that story as an example of why proper decon is important when I did hazmat classes. Admittedly, this incident wasn't caused by a hazmat response situation, but it still got the point across.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

  19. #19
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    Try again to post.
    WOW, Glad to hear everyone is safe, showed to my boss similar reply.

    Weruj1: date is 6/02 well within the 5 year time frame.

    aluminum cyls. do not tolerate heat well, any with a burn mark of any kind must be pulled and rehydroed(sp) or scrapped, usually scrapped.

    Steamer: keep us informed, the damage to the bag just doesn't seem right for the heat on the cyl.

    more later,
    Alan

    PS I work for a welding supply company,

  20. #20
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    I am having a hard time with the whole pen light theory. I've never known of a pen light that can get warm enough to start a fire. I am wondering if maybe the orings on the tank and regulator might have had an oil applied to them, which is a no no. That would be my guess!

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