Experiment Conducted for Department to Determine Cause of Blast in July Which Killed One Person and Injured Many Others

IN order to determine the cause of the explosion at the training school of the Detroit Fire Department on July 31, at which one person lost his life and fifty spectators were badly injured, a duplicate test was conducted on August 16, in the presence of a group of technical men. As in the case of the first test, an explosion occurred, but this time fortunately no one was hurt.

The group consisted of Prof. Alfred H. White, head of the Chemical Engineering Department, University of Michigan; A. H. Nuckolls, Chief Chemist, Underwriters’ Laboratories, and Frank Burton, Safety Engineer. Others who witnessed the second test included Chief Walter Israel, of the Detroit Fire Department; George Smith, of the Arson Squad; Thomas S. Gillespie, who conducted the first test, and a number of city officials.

A pint of gasoline was ignited in the brick walled experimental room, and the carbon dioxide gas forced in. After a few seconds, the pan of fire jumped up. The hissing noise, caused by the pressure under which the gas was being forced in, became louder, and then with a muffled sound, the glass windows were blown to bits, while the windows on the outside were shattered as at the previous test, when a quart of gasoline was used.

Prof. White was the only spectator who held his ground. He said that the blast was a surprise to him, as he didn’t believe that the gas mixture in the experimental room would explode.

The results of the two blasts were identical. The entire window opening on the inside of the Training School was blown out, the side panes in the window opening into the yard were shattered, while the center pane remained intact. The vent in the roof was blown off.

The second test was ordered by the Fire Department, after it had refused to accept a report of the Fire Marshal’s investigating committee, which absolved the department. Archie McClellan, Assistant Fire Chief, Port Huron, Mich., died as the result of injuries received while watching the first experiment. The first demonstration was arranged for the benefit of Chiefs attending a state convention.

No posts to display