First responders should understand risks involved with alcohol-based fuels
Oct 1, 2007 12:00 PM
I strongly agree with your comments in the recent article (in the August 2007 issue of Bulk Transporter) about ethanol-based products in transportation. As a fire service educator in New York, I am keenly aware of the ever-changing challenges faced by first responders.
As we seek new sources of energy in this country, use of alcohol-based fuels is on the rise. One of the drawbacks of these new blends is that they cannot be transported by pipeline because of contamination issues. This leaves surface transport as the only viable option.
Surface transport then exposes responders to an increase in the likelihood of a flammable or combustible liquids incident occurring in their community. Without a thorough understanding of foam and its proper application, firefighting efforts in these situations will be ineffective.
Our Flammable Liquid Emergencies program in New York includes a discussion on the chemistry of liquid fuels, the proper use of foam and required suppression calculations, and likely scenarios where firefighters will face incidents involving theses products.
It cannot be stressed enough that only those foam types classified as Alcohol Type Concentrate (ATC) or Alcohol Resistant (AR) and applied at the appropriate rate will extinguish fires involving polar solvents. First responders should be strongly encouraged to look at the risks in their community and acquire resources appropriate for the types of products they may face.
A great article overall. Thanks for remembering those of us who, while not directly involved with handling these bulk materials, may become involved with them when things go wrong.
Daniel J Baker
Fire Protection Specialist
NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control
Hazardous Materials Homeland Security Bureau
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