Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Little Surprise!

In an earlier post, I mentioned the wall of a cabinet located in my garage. Affixed to it are little mementos of my career, a few I use as reminders of things that could have gone bad but didn't.

I added this item yesterday. This one wasn't a big deal, but it will serve as a reminder that things aren't always as they seem. The incident happened last week, but I needed to clean this item up a bit as it was pretty heavily damaged by fire.

I peeled this label off of a fuel tank on a semi that had suffered a brake/tire fire. When we first arrived on scene, the four driving tires were burning pretty good and the fuel tank was located just in front of the tires. I saw the tank, realized that it was a matter of concern, though minor as the fire was being brought under control rather quickly. It wasn't until after the fire was out and I saw the above label that I realized the fuel tank wasn't your ordinary diesel tank, but one that  contained Liquefied Natural Gas. Apparently, the state helped pay for this truck and a few others to convert to a dual fuel LNG/diesel system.The fire just happened to occur on the liquefied natural gas side.

A slightly different risk to be sure, although the tank is designed to withstand flame impingement for quite a while. It is also designed to be resistant to impact. The thing with this was that it surprised me and I didn't catch it sooner.

The fire had conducted into the container and was smoldering in some baled material inside. Dur to our location, we decided to tow the trailer to another location before off-loading it. Before we could that, however, the four tires on that side needed to be replaced. The whole process took forever and we ended up  playing  with damn thing all evening. The LNG tank stood up well though with no structural damage to it, only paint and labeling damage observed.

Had it gotten really hot, it would have vented and we all would have known about it. As it was, a good lesson for us all.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Ahhh, yes, venting tanks.

    I remember the first time I ran into that without expecting it.

    I arrived late to a mutual aid fire, and as I approached the CP to check in, a large propane tank in back vented, roaring.

    It had done it a few times before my arrival, so the guys there were more or less ready for it. It scared the crap out of me, and I jumped behind the firefighter nearest me, ducking with my hands on his shoulders, using him as a shield.

    It was 100% reflexive and automatic. And 100% embarrassing and humiliating, that I'd grab a guy and hide behind him. But oh man how it startled me!

    I've never really forgotten that particular low point in my career, but this story brought it all back in force.

  2. Dear Captain Schmoe,
    holy sh--t.
    I'm glad it went down to mundane PITA, Captain, I certainly am.
    Sincerely, Ann T.

  3. That definitely would grab your attention.