We get dispatched to a fully involved structure fire, upon arrival the single storey building is fully involved, flames out of all windows, through the roof etc.. This residence is the very last house on a small dirt road. The home owner is no where to be found, not sure if they are accounted for or not but at this point it doesnt really matter because of the extent of the fire. So basically its a simple surround and drown situation. We basically just nicely get started applying water when a very small hiss noise started coming from the AB corner of the house. The hissing lasted just long enough to notice, maybe 5 seconds, then all of a sudden KABOOM, I was standing talking strategy with the chief, probably 70ft away from the A wall, it was just like someone hauled off and punched me right in the chest, it knocked the wind out of me and made me take a step back. I just looked at the chief, "what the hell was that, we need to do a headcount"... Anyway a quick 360 had everyone accounted for, we still had no idea what it was but we definately kept our distance for the remainder of the call. During overhaul I was digging through the rubble when I came across a cylinder. It was a "D" sized oxygen cylinder that had the top completely blown off of it. We had no idea that the person living there was on home oxygen. We never did find the valve, just glad we didnt find it impaled in someones chest.
That night I went into work and was talking to the paramedics who were doing the fire standby, they were sitting in the rig, parked probably close to 300m's away and they said after they heard the explosion it was like someone walked past the rig and started pushing on it from side to side. Our dispatcher who was sitting in the station, which has got to be close to 1/2km away straight through the bush said all the windows shook in the hall. Incredible amount of power from a small oxygen tank.
I spent some time looking at the 02 tanks when I got into work, they are not designed with anykind of relief valve so when it gets super heated the gas as no where to expand. All that can happen is the catastrophic failure of the cylinder... Scary stuff..
So the lessons learned... If you get to residence, with placcards stating Home 02 is in place try to find out where those cylinders are and keep them cool if at all possible.. I think Home 02 companies need to do a better job making sure residences are properly placcarded that have 02 and people with the 02 need to leave those placcards in place. This residence had no placcards.
As anyone else had any experience with Home 02 and fires?..We had one other stucture a few years back that had a home 02 generator in the basement, we were able to contain the fire to one room, but it scares me to think what would have happened had the fire reached the basement..
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Yup.. Thats exactly what it was like at the house.. I never would have thought that a single D would have that much force.. The video could have been "M" cylinders exploding too. Our new rigs are coming with the capability to carry two "M" cylinders aswell as 4 "D" cylinders... Oh and I've had two rigs catch fire on me while at work, never had any 02 explosions but next time it happens I'm not sticking around to watch.
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