This week is Fire Prevention Week. Today we look at a structural fire callout at one park and discuss the oversights in prevention efforts that made the response to this incident difficult.
“There’s an alarm ringing at the maintenance yard,” reported an off-duty park employee who happened to be in the area. Knowing the location of the alarm was the simplest part of the late night callout. However, further details were unknown. We didn’t know how long the alarm had been sounding or why.
Park responders arrived and there was confusion about the source of the alarm. We soon learned from a long-time park employee that the alarm was a fire alarm for the park’s hazardous materials building. A quick check of the fire suppression system showed that it dumped out all of its dry chemical extinguishing agents. The park structural fire engine company was called and a search for the Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) for the structure’s contents began.
The door to the hazardous materials facility was extremely hot to the touch. A hazardous materials response team reviewed the MSDS remotely and directed the engine company to take a defensive posture and not engage in any direct fire suppression. Based on the MSDS, we learned the contents in the structure could react with water. We were directed to take action only if the fire breached the hazardous materials structure and threatened the main facility building.
Upon the arrival of the hazardous materials team an hour later, we learned that although the building was extremely hot, its contents had not caught fire. The building’s heat control system had failed, allowing the heater to reach temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. Sensing a fire, the suppression system activated and attempted to discharge its dry chemical agent, but the material clogged in the piping system and failed to discharge. Luckily, the audible alarm went off and the heater was disengaged before a fire began.
At least five significant oversights in the park’s prevention efforts made the response to this incident difficult. Take a Fire Prevention Week break to discuss what those oversights may have been. Then, connect with Fire and Aviation Management on Facebook to learn more. Who knows? You may discover more solutions than we even envisioned.