Fire Prevention & Protection, Firefighter Training, Firefighting

Will Firefighters Be Any Safer Under the New Hazardous Materials Code?

Issue 11 and Volume 168.

BY VYTO BABRAUSKAS The April 17, 2013, ammonium nitrate (AN) explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, was one of the more infamous accidents involving numerous line-of-duty deaths to firefighters. Fire Engineering covered the news and subsequent developments extensively throughout 2014 and 2015. (See “Explosion in West, Texas: Lessons Learned from Multiple Deaths,” Fire Engineering, March 2015, 137-145. (photos 1, 2). One upshot of that disaster was that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) declared that NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code, the NFPA’s primary means of addressing AN accidents, will be revised to incorporate in its provisions what was learned about that disaster. The 2016 edition (available toward the end of 2015) has now been finalized, so it is important to assess if it will do enough for the safety of firefighters and local communities. (1) The West, Texas, AN explosion (Photos 1 and 2 courtesy of…

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