The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative

Graham Marshall - Monday, March 10, 2014

The US FA report, Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative (2014), provides best practices and recommendations for safer emergency vehicle and roadway incident response. Topics covered include common crash causes and crash prevention, internal and external factors for improving response and roadway safety, vehicle design and maintenance, and regulating emergency vehicle response and roadway scene safety.

Summary and Recommendations;

In analyzing all the information that is contained in the report, please note the following list of recommendations relative to improving emergency vehicle and roadway incident safety:

·       There must be continued effort at the local, state and federal levels to support research and provide new information on this topic to emergency responders.

·       Agencies that operate emergency vehicles and/or operate at roadway incident scenes shall use the information contained in these various research reports to strengthen their SOPs, training programs and incident operations.

·       Design all new emergency vehicles to meet, as a minimum, the appropriate national consensus standards for that type of vehicle. Use the information contained in the various research reports regarding enhanced emergency vehicle visibility, conspicuity and lighting as a guide to exceed minimum standards and improve vehicle and scene safety, where applicable.

·       Fully train all emergency vehicle drivers for each type of vehicle that they are expected or assigned to drive.

·       All agencies within a given jurisdiction must work together to ensure that roadway incident response roles, policies and procedures among the agencies are defined, consistent, applied and enforced. Interagency training sessions are useful for ensuring appropriate handling of emergency incidents.

·       Train all personnel who operate at roadway incident scenes to perform their roles according to local SOPs; mutual-aid agreements; and applicable local, state and federal laws and national standards.

·       Ensure that all personnel wear appropriate personal protective clothing and retroreflective vests or garments when operating at incidents on or adjacent to a roadway. The only exceptions to wearing retroreflective vests or garments are when personnel are required to wear chemical protective suits or SCBA during the course of their duties.

·       Thoroughly investigate all emergency vehicle response and roadway scene incidents to determine the circumstances and causal factors that played a role in the incident. This should include all near-miss, injury, fatal or otherwise unusual incidents. Use this information to amend policies and procedures, if necessary.

·       Use the NIMS-ICS at all roadway incident scenes, and ensure that all agencies and personnel operate within the command structure.

·       Develop departmental regulations that require that all emergency vehicles operate at a safe and controllable speed and that all members be seated and belted when the vehicle is in motion.

·       Ensure that all vehicles that respond to roadway incidents are equipped with the appropriate types and amounts of traffic control equipment and at least one retroreflective vest for each person riding on the vehicle.


International Code Council Launches New Fire Code

Graham Marshall - Thursday, March 06, 2014

Following the death's of six workers at the Kleen Energy Power Generation Facility in Middletown (Connecticut, USA), the International Code Council (ICC) has revised the International Fire Code (IFC) and International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC) to prohibit the unsafe practice of "gas blows"; in which flammable gas is blown under high-pressure down newly-constructed or repaired piping in an effort to clean and remove debris from the pipes prior to start-up.

The process of "gas-blowing" is inherently unsafe.

At the Kleen Energy facility, the high pressure gas blow was used to clean pipes prior to the start up of generator turbines; but the gas found an ignition source; and the six workers were killed in the subsequent huge explosion.

Alternative non-flammable gases are safe to use in "gas blowing" scenario's, including compressed air, so there is no need to use flammable gases.

Over 40 Countries, including the USA subscribe to the ICC codes.

ATSB Hot Work Safety Video

Graham Marshall - Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is urging all maritime workers and boat owners to watch a short online safety video that features an accident involving a crew member on board a ship who was tragically killed by an explosion while cutting a used 200 litre drum with an angle grinder.

The ATSB has investigated several accidents involving "hot-work" cutting of used fuel drums in the marine industry.

In all cases, the  accidents could have been prevented if the workers had just given some time to think about the hazards involved and followed proper "hot-work" procedures.

The video provides a powerful reminder to all seafarers of the need to take make sure that hazards involved in "hot-work" are appropriately managed.

To view the video, click this link.

Pyrolosis in Truck Tyres

Graham Marshall - Friday, July 19, 2013

Coming into contact with overhead power lines when driving can cause the tyres on trucks, cranes and other heavy vehicles to catch fire and explode.

Five workers have been killed by exploding tyres in Australia in recent years and many more injured as excessive heat developing in tyres has led to the unpredictable phenomenon known as pyrolysis.

Pyrolysis can occur when excess heat is applied to a tyre.

Often it is a result of electrical arcing and current flow when rubber tyred vehicles have been involved in high voltage electrical incidents.

The heat decomposes the rubber and other compounds used to manufacture the tyre, creating a ready fuel source.

The ratio of this fuel to the air used to inflate the tyres can then reach flammable or LEL (explosive) levels.

The explosive energy released during a tyre explosion can lead to serious injuries or fatalities and significant equipment damage.

Because of the amount of kinetic energy released, a danger area up to 300 metres away is typically required to be established.

Pyrolysis related explosions are unpredictable, sometimes happening immediately, sometimes up to 24 hours after the heat was applied to the tyres.

And the explosion can happen with no visible signs of a fire on the outside of the tyre before it explodes.

Besides electrical heat sources, other sources of heat that lead to pyrolysis in tyres include welding (e.g., on wheel rims), oxy/acetylene heating wheel nuts, overheating brakes and wheel motor fires.

Tyre explosions predominantly occur with split rim configurations, but can happen with all types of tyres.

Any pneumatic rubber tyred vehicle involved in an incident where an electrical fault results in discharges or arcing around or through the tyres should be considered a potential hazard.

Procedures to follow when there is a danger of a tyre explosion, such as when a rubber tyred vehicle has contacted overhead power lines include:

+ Parking the vehicle in an isolation zone, with a minimum 300 metre radius;

+ Removing everyone from the area, and not allowing anyone to re-enter the isolation zone for 24 hours; and

+ Alerting fire fighting services to the potential hazard.

It should be noted that if pneumatic tyres are filled with nitrogen instead of air, it reduces, if not eliminates the risk of pyrolyic tyre explosion.

Fire Prevention in Winery Industry

Graham Marshall - Sunday, April 14, 2013

An explosion and fire at a winery in NSW in January 2008 resulted in the death of two persons and serious burns to another person. 

The causes of the incident are still being investigated, but initial investigations indicate that welding work was being done at the time in the vicinity of a building where ethanol and other flammable liquids were stored. 

Ethanol is a highly flammable liquid and is a Class 3 Packing Group II dangerous good.

In NSW, the OHS Regulation 2001 requires employers to manage health and safety risks at the workplace in consultation with workers. 

A thorough risk assessment should be conducted as soon as possible for manufacturing processes (including temporary storage during processing) and storage involving flammable liquids, including the likely ignition sources such as welding, grinding and other hot work, which could cause flammable vapour to ignite. 

It is important that the risk assessment is reviewed immediately when the type, quantity and usage of dangerous goods on site change and that safety procedures are modified and communicated to workers. 

For example, the seasonal use of ethanol for the fortification of wine will need to be included in the risk assessment.

In order to minimize the risk of fire and explosion at any winery, a risk management plan should be developed to ensure that:

•   Flammable liquids are stored in compliant containers and facilities according to AS 1940:2004;

•   Flammable liquids storage areas are clearly marked with warnings and signs;

•   Adequate natural cross flow ventilation is maintained in buildings that process/store of flammable liquids;

•   Hot work and smoking restriction zones are clearly identified, sign posted and strictly enforced;

•   Hot work is done according to AS1674.1:1997 which lists comprehensive fire and explosion precautions;

•   Flammable or toxic materials have been properly removed before work is carried out on an empty vessel;

•   All decanting of flammable liquids is carried out in a well ventilated area;

•   Transferring of flammable liquids from storage to the point of use is carried out to avoid spillage;

•   The area around storage and processing is kept free of materials that burn;

•   Fire safety equipment is provided and maintained;

•   Workers are instructed and trained in the storage and handling of dangerous goods, the emergency plan and the use of safety equipment.

Further information regarding the prevention of fire and explosion can be found in:

•   Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001;

•   AS 1940:2004 – the storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids;

•   AS/NZS 2430.3.3:2004 – Classification of hazardous areas;

•   AS 1674.1:1997 – Safety in welding and allied processes – Fire precautions.

Further information is also available from the WorkCover Assistance Service on 13 10 50.

Wyoming Rules on Fire Retardant Clothing

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is implementing rules that require flame-resistant (FR) clothing be worn by all workers within 75 feet radius of a well bore.

An additional new rule also that mandates emergency shut-down devices be installed on all diesel engines used on a drilling rig. 

The rules were proposed by the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Commission in October 2012. 

The new rules incorporate recommendations from a broad range of stakeholders and considered public comments received during a public hearing in October and input received over a 90-day public comment period. 

For more information about DWS’s OSHA division and services such as the Wyoming Safety Fund or the longstanding OSHA safety consultation program, call (307) 777-7786.

Vacuum Truck Fire Safety Alert

Graham Marshall - Thursday, April 04, 2013
An industrial vacuum truck was vacuuming out a sump in a reagent area of a mineral processing plant when the vacuum pump motor caught fire. 

The fire then ignited gases in the interceptor (the large receiving tank on back of truck) that had built up to explosive levels. 

Material was ejected up to 30 m away.

Investigation showed that the fire was started by a wire leading from the battery to the vacuum pump starter motor. 

The wire was not protected by a fuse and overheated, igniting the wire’s insulation. 

The resulting fire then ignited gas that had built up in the interceptor. 

The gas came from the sludge material that was being cleared up by the truck. 

The sludge included residue and material from the sodium ethyl xanthate tank in the storage bund. 

This material is itself spontaneously combustible, but it can also produce combustible and explosive carbon disulphide gas and ethanol vapors. 

Additionally, the vacuum truck was not fitted with any fire suppression other than a hand-held extinguisher.


1. Identify any sumps that may contain hydrocarbons or other flammable materials before clean up work starts and discuss this information with the workers undertaking the task. 

2. This information must be input to the risk assessment process used for this type of task at your mine.

3. Ensure that suitable electrical protection techniques are used with such diesel pump and motor installations. 

4. Check similar types of equipment and assess whether additional controls, including an appropriate fire suppression system, are needed.

Fake Fire Extinguishers

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Marine Safety Forum is warning of fake fire extinguishers on the market.

Purchasers of fire extinguishers should be on the look out for fake Amerex and Buckeye models. 

The fakes discovered so far are dry chemical types in size B-II.

See the enclosed safety flash for further information.

Spontaneous Human Combustion

Graham Marshall - Monday, April 01, 2013
Oklahoma Authorities are speculating that the death of a 65-year-old Oklahoma man was caused by spontaneous human combustion.

Smoke was seem emanating from his home, and when Firefighters arrived on the scene, they quickly realized that 65-year-old Danny Vanzandt appeared to have burst into flames in his kitchen. 

Firefighters reported no evidence of fire damage to the man’s house or furniture. 

County Sheriff Ron Lockhart, who had investigated cases of arson for two decades, was baffled by the man’s demise. 

After extensive research, Lockhart concluded that the man’s death was “an unusual and bizarre case.” 

While the victim consumed alcohol and smoked cigarettes, authorities concluded that it was impossible for the combination to prompt his death by fire. 

The spontaneous combustion of a living being remains a phenomenon for which there is no sufficient scientific explanation. 

While human combustion remains largely an area of speculation, there are frequent cases of non-living substances bursting into flames spontaneously. 

In spontaneous combustion cases, an internal reaction self-heats an item, rapidly boosting its temperature. 

Heat cannot escape quickly enough to prevent the item’s temperature from reaching an ignition point. 

Haystacks, coal, pistachio nuts, and piles of manure or compost are all capable of spontaneously combusting under the right circumstances. 

Dry grasslands can also ignite during periods of intense heat, but the causes of vegetative combustion are not yet scientifically understood. 

Roughly two hundred deaths have been attributed to spontaneous combustion since the 1700s. 

Explanations range from scientifically reasonable (unobservable natural phenomena) to unabashedly spiritual (direct divine intervention). 

In each case, a human form is completely consumed by flames while the surrounding area remains unaffected. 

No external triggers or accelerants are located on the scene, nor can authorities pinpoint a single point of origin on the body. 

Whisky Distillary Fire

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 03, 2013

Now this is what I call a real catastrophic disaster!

A court in Glasgow (Scotland) was told how two workers were filling whisky casks in a warehouse when a fire broke out causing the loss of more than 17,500 litres of the precious liquid.

The fire happened on 29 June 2011 when the men were on a metal walkway at the top levels of the warehouse using flexible hoses to fill 450-litre casks with whisky.

Having filled four casks, one worker turned to see a jet of whisky shooting up towards a ceiling light fitting above a fork lift truck.

The whisky hit the light fitting and a flame exploded over the forklift.

Both workers fled the warehouse, activating the fire alarm as they left.

Thousands of litres of the burning spirit poured down the racked casks and onto the forklift truck until the supplying pump was turned off about 15 minutes later.

The forklift truck was described as looking like 'a Christmas pudding once brandy is set alight'.

An investigation into the fire by the UK HSE found that the central aisle lights in the warehouse should not have been used in a flammable atmosphere and, had they been checked, they would have been identified as an ignition source trigger.

The investigation also highlighted that the filling equipment was not suitable for use to transfer a hazardous substance like alcohol at pressure.

Had the company taken the simple steps of checking the light fittings were suitable for use in a flammable atmosphere and that the equipment used to transfer the alcohol was fit for purpose this incident could have been prevented.


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