Home>Topics>>Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department Safety Alert: LIquified CO2

Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department Safety Alert: LIquified CO2

Mon, 26 Sep 2011|

The Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department issues a safety alert to warn firefighters about a new hazard of the job: Liquified CO2 systems being used in convenience stories, restaurants, and other structures.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

With the location of the emergency -- that I thought to ask them. Okay in the McDonald's -- immune and that. What put -- Okay okay okay this year but He VP human. Bank BC complaining unity and thank you can bet that apparently it's and hopefully I'll -- -- -- seen -- it has effect OK April. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- That you -- -- the principle that old Compaq did she hit her head or ethical at all I think have. In Cuba and up on the -- anything you know -- -- -- hit it hit. Thank super comfortable little looser -- -- -- just acumen and developer out of it and -- -- going -- -- Yeah -- may 31 and about 2100 hours. And 61 was dispatched to a fall injury at 3323. North 24 street and McDonald's. I'll get in the truck. PTI is sought 24 year old pregnant female tripped and fell and -- only information we got. Roll -- on scene and we were met by the manager immediately outside. She confirmed that there was somebody who tripped and fell. When we went -- and we actually were led back to the kitchen which was still in full operation. Patrons were making their orders burgers were getting -- Fries we'll get fried. Go back to the back of the kitchen and there was a female at the top of the stairs laying down the only information. We continue to get from the manager was that she -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- You know -- days. She was. She wasn't really. Talking to us at all -- she seemed like she was either injured or upset crying. Slightly hysterical with the -- -- was wasn't wasn't. Answering any of our questions nobody there was really. How openness with. Any information like nobody knew what was going on. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Try to put me here. -- stunning turn. At some point regular workers told us that she fell issues coming up the stairs. So myself and the -- decided we go down and see if there was some slippery you're what. -- might have happened. We'll just. -- -- -- -- -- We got to the bottom of the stairs and He was ahead of me and and we're just you know he's an. Didn't really smell any thing I didn't really smell anything but you know my engineer so that He could smell something. As I was taken some deep breaths I knew that are all right I felt like a little burning. In my throat and and a little burning in my lungs. But you when we looked around we're we're really in the basement for maybe fifteen seconds but there were paint cans down there there -- chemicals down there. Supplies. That they would normally keep them in a basement or shed. I said some doesn't seem right you know -- said look let's get out here I'll sums going on now Phil Wright -- smell something really weird you know. And he's and He agreed. We decided to -- and head back up the stairs. And about I was about halfway up when I looked Arkansas my engineer fall in its. As were walking back up the stairs. -- right as -- got to the top I started getting light headed dizzy and right when I got to the top of the stairs I'd I'd I'd just like. Collapsed like felony and you know just kind of uncontrollable. It -- and can control muscle but just. It was -- sure what was going on. And I didn't really. Understand what was going on He didn't seem like He was that disoriented when we're going up but this does about the same distance. That I was from him as -- clear that distance I got really light -- myself. The breasts that I was taking started that it caused him to cough. And similar got to the top of the stairs and told my captain I don't know what's down there but something is down there that's not making me feel right. It's not making me you know -- right. -- Let's go out early -- work. Here and when I looked -- -- wrong. And they said that they almost passed out. And I knew they -- -- around so. Immediately. Called for a 31 hazardous. Additionally -- -- rescue for the patient. Luckily there was a Phoenix police officer on scene who kind of -- Roland hot and it was nice avenue uniformed officer there to help us evacuate the restaurant. There was still people in the drive -- make in the order. People sitting down at -- we got the restaurant. Evacuated immediately. The response was on its way. And we're able to my guys were still functional enough where we -- able to stretch and Jack of one -- -- -- fourth street. Stretching and line and -- wait for Hazmat teams to two -- Phoenix McDonald's had to be -- evacuated after fumes. Caused a pregnant. Employee to pass out this happened last night here. 24 street and Osborne. Police got the call that a pregnant employee had fainted in the stairway. Workers say she'd been feeling light headed and dizzy and authorities found carbon dioxide leaking from the soda machines. In the basement they say it was a dangerous situation. And it was lucky that no one was hurt the woman is going to be okay by the way. You know restaurants historically and circle k's and everything else have historically UCO two. To carbonated beverages but they've always been just pressurized tanks. In the last in I don't know when it's happened but we're seeing it more and more often where they're starting to use liquid CO2. Doers and because they can fill that one CO2 tank owner told me once a month. Where the other -- they were -- -- every couple days really when it happened down there is with that liquid CO2. Leaking. It -- complete that basement completely out it was basically a swimming pool full. CO2 you. So -- huge CO2 liquid tank. Below grade. And and -- there fairly significantly. 3001 expansion ratio it it -- A significant amount of oxygen on air filled the -- holdings -- up -- CO2. We assembled an entry team and full PP with -- -- We also brought down our. -- -- caller series meter which is an there are monitoring -- also -- -- gas stranger natural gas meters. I'm going down the stairs into the basement of the McDonald's. Immediately got an alarm on my serious -- indicating there was decreased amount of oxygen atmosphere. Which was concerning to us because you know obviously there's something in this displacing an option that means something's gone. So we proceeded down the stairs. The basis stairs. Almost immediately all the alarm started going off and all of meters. Including the natural gas meter which was a little bit. Concerning us is we really weren't expected. We brought that down just to be -- That Peter was indicating almost a 100%. Gaps in the house. Which kind of changed the perspective of the whole incident because it really wasn't something we expect. So at that point we -- decided that. You know this was more than we bargained for this was definitely something that was extremely hazardous. And we elected at that point two would drop out of the space go back outside. Security utilities to the building and then kind of talk about what we've found in it in. Safe locations that we can come up what -- you better back game plan handles. One of the things that I did notice when we were making our entry. When these meters were going -- -- that I -- view this CO2 tank and I noticed that there was a device next to it it was. Is marketed it was a CO2 to -- -- detector. And it indicated they had power to it had a ready light. It is also not alarming -- -- times -- that was one of the things that was kind of a curve ball to us in this -- Is that we had every reason in the world to believe this was CO2 week yet it added detector right next of the container itself it was not indicating there was a problem time. Later I believe it was discovered that tape had been put over that. Detection device while they were killing and working on it for whatever reason they neglected to remove the -- -- -- rendering the to thank you us. Normally things that are that houses -- how those types of chemicals involved are. Always very clearly labeled as -- emergency procedures to shut down. Etc. this really didn't have any of them. There was no clear markings as how to shut the container down so we were kind of starting from scratch in terms of -- learning curve -- happens here this. We were able to locate. Some very small thumb valves. On several different ports at the top of the container which we you know as soon could only be valves that -- -- -- product. There really wasn't a main valve a big thing anything into -- or something you -- is an emergency situations secured. So we turned up all the valves. We didn't hear any active leaking at the time. It showed that -- container I believe was apple. Which if it was still bad day that would let us to believe that that was possibly something involved with that -- half that product names staked out. So we did secure all of that we also checked the hot water heater and some of the other. Gas appliances down there -- were they appear to be functioning normally. At that time we were down in the basement we were getting oxygen readings of seventy and a half percent. On our series here normal will be twenty point eight point 1% something that there so several percent of the -- option was -- need not like something it was. Down in that -- so we definitely had something pretty serious. We did secure the yes CO2. Media also have the gas secure it's about time. It was made the decision is made it we're gonna blend back out we're gonna attempt to ventilated -- -- -- if that was if that would change the apps. Since we have the squad truck with this we RD carry confined space stands witness which was at night also and doing this because. With the confined space and you can put the -- down into -- subterranean space -- from the bottom and since CO2 is heavier than -- It sinks to the bottom. And that's where all of its gonna be in this stand device -- actually sucked air from the bottom and ex felon out of bill. So it was actually a very effective tool. That we use to you get this -- so we did set up confined space and this -- adults had the basement. With an exterior -- well that went to the outside we simply -- the bellows downstairs. And -- the confined space and up on the top and then cleared the area so that that didn't affect anybody else when -- -- that gas outside. If you curve balls we really had in this situation decade in malfunctioning. CO2 detectors that was right next to -- -- tank itself. And the other curve ball that we had was the fact that we've gotten. A high indication of natural gas present we are making this entry on natural gas meter. After further research and speaking with the manufacturers of the device. Of the gas stranger it was discovered that. In actuality see attitude of the physical properties to chemical properties -- QQ will mimic. Natural gas and that's detection device actually provide you with a false positive. So we had a false positive an indication of large amounts of natural gas -- in actuality it really wasn't that. I'm that was that was the first time -- to know that I've never heard about it and -- world and I think a lot of people learn that at night as well so. There were several curve balls in this incident that we kind of had to overcome -- on all -- when no one got hurt 19 mile an American lesson. And hopefully in the future will be only -- Situation. With much more efficiency. More and more restaurants and circle k's and everything else are switching over to this liquid CO2 system because of that expansion ratio. But for us what it means it all these things that we found at least are -- on the plastic line in the freezing. Those lines have the potential to break and -- -- situation we had. The significance of this incident to us as we had two potential civilian victims and possibly more a lot of times in these situations the potential rescuers and that being. More of the problem in the initial person that was down and then of course the close call for our firefighters we had two firefighters go down in that basement. He -- and oxygen deficient. Atmosphere and where. Aware enough to get out of there before before they went down. So it's a pretty significant incident it's in it for us. He really opened our eyes to the fact that there are these systems all over the city and -- and they're all on the same way there's the potential danger at every one of them. -- doc segment gas has a very long history in the world. Of causing death. And this interestingly enough can even occur in open air because. Carbon dioxide is heavier than -- in general and can settle in low -- areas so -- in carbon dioxide for example. Coming out of the opening of minds or whatever. To the surface can settle in low lying areas so that. Persons walking through -- -- can actually passed -- and because of elevated CO2 concentrations. The toxicity is carbon dioxide and student two major factors. The first is that it's what's termed a simplest fix in in that it can displace air. And since -- about twenty point -- 21% oxygen. When you -- -- and oxygen. You removing the oxygen that we need to -- so you're entering a low oxygen environment. But unlike other simplest -- and such as nitrogen gas or argon gas for example or even helium. Which is a common gas used for suicide. Unlike those other gases. Carbon dioxide in high concentrations. Also can directly. Affect -- bringing to produce -- and respiratory depression. And we call this carbon dioxide -- our -- -- CO tuner -- that big issue with it is that it's an oxygen. This Placer. But in high concentrations like we had there McDonald they said the potential was about 25% CO2 you and that -- in the basement. At that high have a concentration. You tend get that bitter taste in your mouth because this alive and you outbreaks that -- down into the car Bonnie gas. So you will typically get some sort of a bitter taste and we had a couple guys on scene reporting that bitter taste. The person. May start breathing rapidly feeling as -- they can't get their breath as their brain begins to fail from lack of oxygen. They may become light headed there -- visual fields may Begin to. Constrict. And their heart rate will increase they may or may not detect that and then they will simply go to sleep. And pass out from lack of oxygen and from the narcotic effect a very high concentrations. Carbon dioxide as well. You know this incident will definitely change my approach to to those scenarios forever. That -- is -- confined space. There are those large CO2 tanks down there. And -- right you know when I reflect back about the incident as to how we operated. -- you know we operated within our our our operating procedures. And I think the scariest part about this is is that this could've potentially. Then a life threatening accident and it was solely based on the actions of others. And you know those tanks being in there the large tanks -- and and there. Us getting no information very little information. Having to guess having to investigate ourselves do all those things that we do I don't know our normal -- day to day basis. All of the information that I've. Heard about that incident that it it it could have been a lot worse than it was I guess. You know we go on all kinds of different calls on a regular basis and oftentimes don't give him a second thought. As long as we make it back to the station but I I guess. The the margin of error on this call was well a lot less than what it normally is. I guess we could very easily -- -- one breath and and passed out down there. You know the two of us being down there -- kind of in investigating. Who knows how long it would have been that would have been laying down there. Before somebody else came down in the same thing happen to them that -- 34 firefighters -- in your basement unconscious and how long before their discovered.

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