Posted By Near Miss Team/ Friday, January 4, 2019 / Print
What was the initial size-up?
Crude oil storage tank on fire with additional crude oil storage tanks exposed.
We are a dedicated Hazmat Team in a large industrial city. A neighboring department attempted to extinguish a storage tank fire, containing crude oil, with 40 gallons of Class "B" foam, but they were unsuccessful. Our Hazardous Materials Response Team (two hazmat units, one foam engine, and ten hazmat technicians) responded to the incident for mutual aid assistance. The facility had no fire hydrants or water supply. By the time our team reported to the command post the fire had been burning for more than 60 minutes and the tank's temperature was approaching 200 degrees Fahrenheit. We immediately recognized the potential for a boilover and realized that our actions were time-sensitive. We decided to make a quick offensive attack using our foam engine, supplied by water shuttle operations. We started deck gun foam operations at 2302 hours, and the fire was out at 2305 hours. A 200' handline, with a foam tube, was used to maintain the foam blanket. The total amount of AR-AFFF used was 42 gallons.
Describe the lessons learned at this event. What recommendations do you have to prevent a similar occurrence?
The Hazmat Response Team should not have been a "last resort" request. Mutual aid requests should be made immediately, especially during high-risk low-frequency hazmat incidents. After the fire, the incident commander recognized the need to call for resources sooner. It is not only essential to have enough foam on hand, but it's also important to understand the product you're dealing with during the attack. The application of wet foam on a crude oil tank fire can potentially lead to a boilover. A boilover occurs when the water settles to the bottom of the tank (the crude oil floats on the water). Then, the fire heats the water to 212 degrees, and the vapor expansion of 1700 causes an immense flammable liquid fireball that is pushed up and out of the tank. Boilovers can potentially kill or injure anyone in the vicinity of the storage tank. This incident was a high-risk low-frequency event. Fortunately for our hazmat team, we are familiar with these types of fires and our team is proficient in foam operations. We train often, and that is why we are successful.
What changes are being implemented due to this event?
We are sharing our stories and lessons learned with others.
Describe the leading practices you noticed at this incident:
Solid leadership by the HMRT officer made this incident successful.
Which of the following occurred, if any:
Date the event occurred:
Approximate time the event occurred:
Location of the emergency/ event:
Was a 360-degree size-up performed?
Which strategic mode was initially implemented?
Were you responding to a known a life hazard (i.e. CPR in progress, known rescue, critical patient entrapment, etc.)?
Not enough resources
Were unsafe act(s) performed?
Resources and Weather
Which of the following resources were on scene when the event took place?
Approximate number of personnel per unit:
Ambulance (Medic, Squad)
Specialty Vehicle: Hazmat Units
Did the weather/environmental conditions impact operations or the event?
Were there civilian injuries or fatalities?
Were there any firefighter injuries?
Was there substantial property/equipment damage or other cost?
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