Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd

News Items

Published:  01 June, 2008

News from the industry:

Architects unable to assess cladding systems safety:
Architects show a worrying lack of understanding regarding Loss Prevention Certification Board testing as regards fire resistance of composite cladding systems.
The claim from Eurobond, a supplier of fire resistant composite panels, refers to the two grades of LPS 1181, which assesses the contribution of various composite panels to fire growth.
“When questioned less than 14 per cent recognised that there are actually two grades of LPS 1181 – grade EXT-A and grade EXT-B, which represents a crucial differential.”
It is only grade A that shows true fire resistance, said the company. “Manufacturers should be required to state quite clearly which level of LPS 1181 their products meet, rather than hiding under the blanket labelling of LPS 1181 compliance. Otherwise they are pulling the wool over specificiers’ eyes.”

Safety record chemical facilities alarming:
A report describing the major findings from all the accident epidemiology studies conducted over a decade by the ERA and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Centre (University of Pennsylvania) has been published.
Findings of the report, entitled Accident epidemiology and the RMP Rule: learning from a decade of accident history data for the US chemical industry, conclude that in ten years of increasing economic activity and hazard level at RMP-covered facilities, there has been a decline in accident frequency reported by the approximately 10,000 facilities covered by the rule since its inception. Other findings include a decline in toxic worst-case scenario vulnerable zones and a “Texas City Effect” in the statistical analysis of accident severity.
The report is available from the ERA website:

Motorised water monitor kills Deputy Fire Chief:
The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety is investigating an incident that resulted in the death of a volunteer Deputy Fire Chief.
A motorised water monitor and 30 feet of aluminium pipe was launched off an elevated aerial ladder at a fire in an industrial plant in Pennsylvania.
The monitor had been pinned to the second section of the ladder (in “rescue mode”) so that the waterway would not be in the way of ladder rescue operations. When the waterway was pressurised, the monitor and its support bracket, along with the last 30-foot section of pipe took off from the aerial ladder.
The monitor travelled around 75 feet, striking the Commander on the head.
The waterway did not include a secondary mechanical device to prevent separation of the water monitor in the event the anchoring pin had not been properly seated.

Lack of company safeguard blamed:
The Chemical Safety Board has concluded that an explosion at CAI Davners, Massachusetts, 2006, occurred due to lack of company safeguards.
The massive explosion at the CAI/Arnel ink and pain products manufacturing facility happened because no alarms or automatic shutoffs were in place to prevent a 10,000 pound mixture of flammable solvents from overheating in the unattended building.
The volatile mixture of heptane and propyl alcohol continued to heat after employees had left the site. The heating was controlled by a single, manual valve that needed to be closed by an operator to prevent overheating.
Vapour coming out of the unsealed tank spread through the production area and ignited at approximately 2.46am, November 22, 2006.
The blast damaged 16 homes and three businesses beyond repair, and 10 residents were treated for cuts and bruises. Over 300 residents were evacuated as a result.“The community damage was the worst we have seen in the ten-year history of the Chemical Safety Board,” said Board Member William Wright.

European manufacturer of sounders and beacons E2S has extended its range of visual signalling devices with Spectra, two traffic lights (the B350 and B450) designed to provide status/safety warnings in industrial applications such as process control systems.
Available with either filament lamps or long life LEDs, the lenses are available in red, amber, blue, clear, green and yellow, in any configuration. All units also have a choice of three cable entries for maximum installation flexibility. Made from UV stabilised polycarbonate, the beacons will not fade when exposed to sunlight and are protected to IP65 dust/water ingress protection.

Ijegun, Nigeria, May 16
A fuel pipeline explosion near Lagos resulted in the deaths of over 100 people (according to the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency) including schoolchildren. An earthmover ruptured the diesel-carrying pipeline, which ignited and the flames engulfed 16 nearby buildings. In December 2006 an oil pipeline exploded in Lagos killing 269. The latest incident brings the death toll attributed to pipeline explosions to 1,200 since the year 2000.

Indiana, USA, 28 April
A gas leak at the SG Solutions petroleum coke gassification plant resulted in two worker deaths. A flanged opening on a high pressure vessel containing synthetic gas failed and the gas immediately ignited. The victims were employees of Sterling Boiler & Mechanical.

Bahrain, UAE, 11 April
American firefighters from Wild Well Control Inc helped extinguish a blaze at Bahrain Petroleum Company’s BAPCO oil wells. A heavy transport vehicle hit the wellhead while carrying out regular maintenance, resulting in the gas escape and a blaze that took ten days to control. The operation was carried out by Wild Well Control, Civil Defence Force, Public Security and the National Guard.

Advice on sorbent choice inadequate:
The British Safety Industry Federation’s Sorbent Manufacturers Group has developed a test method to determine the performances of sorbents, as well as published a guide on the selection of appropriate sorbents for use with different hazardous liquids.
The aim is to counter over-ambitious claims of sorbent products’ performances and to ensure duty holders have sufficient supplies of sorbents to handle anticipated emergencies.
The BSIF points out that consulting the COSHH Material Data-Sheets to identify the most appropriate sorbent for use with any hazardous liquid can be of little use as the requirement on the manufacturer to provide this information is loose. “The BSIF believes that any duty holder would be well advised to seriously question this often inadequate and incomplete information when carrying out a risk assessment in respect of emergency spills.”
First responders to liquid spills require similar training as first-aiders, and specialist courses are available to first responders.

Shell loses control and pays penalty:
Shell UK Oil Products has been fined £266,681 and ordered to pay costs after an incident that took place in 2003 at its Stanlow Manufacturing Complex in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Deputy Chief Justin McCracken said the company was lucky that the incident did not have very severe consequences,  after 20 tonnes of flammable toxic gas escaped through a corroded pipe.
Shell UK Oil Products pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the duty imposed by Regulation 4 of the COMAH regulations 1999, when 20 tonnes of isobutene mixed with 150 kg of hydrogen fluoride escaped into the atmosphere from the release from the HF Alylation plant.
Investigators concluded that Shell had lost control of corrosion processes within the pipe to such an extent that a failure became inevitable. “Although there was no ignition on this occasion, in different circumstances there could have been an explosion,” said HSE inspector Alan Graham.

New code of practice for watermist systems:
The Fire Industry Association (FIA) has written and published Europe’s first ever code of practice for watermist systems.
Despite the increasing use of watermist in fire protection, until now there has been no official guide to their design and installation. The new Code has been written by a team of industry experts within the FIA. “Although it is voluntary, we see it taking on a similar role to that which was produced for gaseous extinguishing systems which has effectively been used as the industry standard for several years”, commented Bob Whiteley, Chairman of the Code committee.
Chief Fire Officer for Berkshire and CFOA National Fire Safety Committee Chairman Iain Cox added, “This document provides specific information and guidance which can only help to further the high standards which have come to be expected of the UK fire protection industry.”
The Code is freely available on the association’s website,

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