Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE) has been a killer of many firefighters. With training and knowing why these tanks BLEVE a firefighter can recognize when they should be nearby and when they shouldn’t. Here is a training video from the Chemical Safety Board. When the fire impinges above the liquid level the tank will fail catastrophically. So why not apply the first protective action which is non intervention. Use unmanned monitors to cool the tanks. If you can’t extinguish the fire next to the tank, evacuate and isolate the area and let it explode. Of all of the hazardous materials out there you may ask why I am focusing on propane. Its because BLEVE’s have killed many firefighters. BLEVE’s can be any container under pressure due to thermal expansion within a container or tank from a boiling liquid.
This is a video from the Sonoma Pallet factory fire from 2013. Notice how close the firefighters and people are to the blast. Listen to the IC immediately request a Personnel Accountability Report (PAR) over the radio after the explosion.
This is a video of the Sonoma Pallet factory fire from 2018. This video was taken from an unmanned camera.
After watching these videos and seeing the difference between a 1000 gallon propane tank and a 30,000 gallon rail car, can you see why they have isolation distances in the ERG? Sonoma Valley suffered two propane BLEVE’s at the pallet factory. The residents in that area in Schellville are now worried about 137 Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Railcars brought into their community to be stored right on the edge of town. Yes, 137-30,000 gallon railcars in their community.
- Watching all of the BLEVE videos, what are the warning signs you noticed when the tank is ready to BLEVE? What are they?
- What were the Chemical Safety Boards recommendations?
- What is one big difference from the 2013 and 2018 Sonoma pallet factory fire?
- Why did the IC call for a PAR (Personnel Accountability Report) after the explosion?