Fatality prompts second Luxfer DOT-E cylinder safety warning

A Luxfer DOT-E 7235 4,500-psi hoopwrapped aluminum cylinder recently failed, hitting and killing the firefighter who was charging it. “While the cause of the cylinder rupture has not been determined, it appears that this cylinder was not fitted with a steel neck ring as required by DOT-E 7235,” reports Alan I. Roberts, associate administrator for hazardous materials safety, Department of Transportation (DOT) Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) in Notice No. 93-8.

The RSPA initially warned of this potential safety hazard in 1985 (published in 50 Federal Register (FR) 329 » t, Aug. 15, 1985). The second Safety Advisory Notice was published in 58 FR 15895, Mar. 2 ». 1993-

In the 1985 Advisory Notice, the RSPA alerted users of cylinders authorized under exemption DOT-E “’235 that it had “amended DOT-E 7235 to require that any cylinder manufactured under that exemption w hich is not equipped with a neck ring be removed from service, prior to October l, 1985.”

This restriction, the RSPA said, was based on a series of hvdro-pneumatic burst tests performed by the cylinder manufacturer. The tests showed that “all test cylinders with neck rings failed by leakage only, while a considerable number of test cylinders without neck rings failed by rupturing.

In a notice to “Respirator Users” dated April 30, 1993. the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Morgantown, West Virginia, instructed all users of the DOT-E 7235 cylinders to inspect them immediately and to remove from service those that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • the absence of a neck-reinforcing ring,
  • the expiration of the 15-year service life (from the date of manufacture) recommended by NIOSH, and
  • the absence of a stamped current hydrostatic test date on the cylinder neck.

In addition, cylinder users were advised that every’ DOT-E 7235 4,500psi cylinder must be hydrostatically retested every three years in accordance with requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Part 173 34(e). and all cylinder users w ere instructed to follow the manufacturer’s recommended safe work practices when charging and handling charged cylinders.

NIOSH reports that the cylinder involved in the 1993 fatality incident “apparently had not been retrofitted with a neck-reinforcing ring as required by the DOT and NIOSH” and should have been removed from service in 1985 until a neck-reinforcing ring had been installed. In addition, NIOSH pointed out that the cy linder had been in service beyond the DOTapproved 15-year service life and “had been hydrostatically retested since 1985. even though the lack of a neck ring should have precluded it from undergoing such testing.”

The RSPA, in its safety directive issued on March 19, 1993, issued the following precautions for “all persons owning, using, or having access to DOT-E 7235 4,500-psig cylinders” when cylinders without the required neck ring are found:

  1. If a cylinder has been filled, vent its entire contents to relieve internal pressure.
  2. Segregate the vented cylinders from all other cylinders in a secured area, and mark the cylinders “conspicuously” with a tag bearing the notation Do Not Use or a similar warning.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, sell or otherwise transfer, fill, refill, or use for any purpose the cylinders in question.
  4. Contact the manufacturer or distributor from whom the cylinders were purchased for advice on how to dispose of the cy linders without the neck rings.

For more information, contact Charles H. Hochman, Office of Hazardous Materials Technology’, Research and Special Programs Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. Washington, DC 20590-0001; (202) 366-4545.

Fallen firefighters service Oct. 10

A memorial service for career and volunteer firefighters who died in the line of duty during 1992 will be held October 10 at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Family members and friends of the fallen firefighters, fire service leaders, and government officials will participate in the service, sponsored by the U.S. Fire Administration. A private grief seminar for family members is scheduled for October 9 at the same location.

“Memorandum of Understanding” clarifies new Medical Radio Service issues

The International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and the National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Directors (NASEMSD) are in the process of ratifying a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU), drafted at a March 23 meeting in Washington, D.C.

The consensus plan specifies the roles of the associations within the rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission when it created the new Emergency Medical Radio Service (EMRS) (see Fire Engineering, March 1993, p.57); the new rules became effective April 2. The FCC has certified the IMSA and IAFC as the joint frequency coordinator for the new service.

The EMRS service is strictly a “public safety” radio service — a departure from the previous Special Emergency Radio Service in which a variety of nonpublic safety operations were eligible to participate. Only organizations engaged in providing basic or advanced life support services on an ongoing basis for which communication is essential for the delivery or rendition of emergency medical services are eligible for FCC licenses in the new EMRS system.

The IMSA/IAFC/NASEMSD Memorandum of Understanding clarifies the following points:

  • In creating the EMRS, the FCC recognizes the existence of state, regional, and local emergency medical plans. The FCC requires that the governmental body having jurisdiction over the state’s emergency medical service plans submit with applications for EMRS licenses from individuals or organizations other than governmen-
  • tal entities verification that the applicant is part of the state’s emergency plans or a statement of support for the application.
  • The FCC expects the IMSA/IAFC to verify that all applications submitted for frequency coordination are compatible with existing regional and local emergency medical plans.
  • “Planning for EMRS systems is within the responsibilities of fire and rescue departments, as represented in IMSA and IAFC, as well as within the responsibilities of others concerned with the provision of emergency medical services, as represented in NASEMSD and others; [that] the communities of interest involved in EMRS planning and operations must work together to achieve maximum beneficial results; [and that the NASEMSD) wishes to assume and carry out a rolefin J the development of the EMRS, and the IMSA and IAFC wish it to do so.”
  • The NASEMSD is responsible for furnishing or having furnished to the IMSA/IAFC any state, regional, or local emergency medical service communications plans to be taken into account in the EMRS frequency coordination operation.
  • The IMSA/IAFC is responsible for conducting the frequency coordination operation in accordance with the communications plans and FCC rules. In the absence of such plans, the IMSA/IAFC will use its judgment to select or approve frequency assignments that best make use of the spectrum available.

Representatives of each of the signatories to the MOU will attend each other’s meetings. Individuals in each state will serve as contacts between the EMRS licensees in that state and NASEMSD and the IMSA/IAFC frequency coordination office “to keep the parties informed as to emergency medical service communications developments in the state.”

The IMSA/IAFC/NASEMSD planning group and the NASEMSD Communications Committee will meet during the IMSA Annual Meeting (July 24-30) at the Waterside Marriott Hotel in Norfolk, Virginia.

individuals wishing to volunteer as state representatives should contact IMSA Communications Director Bob Tall, PC). Box 2681, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170, fax: (904) 4261740. For more information on the IMSA Annual Conference, call the IMSA headquarters at (800) 7234672, fax: (315) 331-8205.

Sprinkler system proposed os solution to mobile home hazards

The latest statistics available (1990) show that the death rate from fires in mobile homes is almost double that for one-family conventional homes (17.3 vs. 9.2 deaths per 1,000 fires), according to Edward M. Wall, acting administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration. Consequently, the USFA has been working with research organizations and trade associations to determine the most efficient and costeffective sprinkler system for mobile homes. Participants in the research project include Underwriters laboratories. Factory Mutual, the American Fire Sprinkler Association, the National Fire Sprinkler Association, and the National Fire Protection Association.

A sprinkler system now under development, Wall reports, “can control or extinguish fires with a delivery of 10 gallons per minute for one sprinkler head or 13 gallons for two | heads].” These capacities, Wall notes, are comparable to the NFPA 18and 36-gallon-per-minute, respectively, standard. The advantages of the proposed sprinkler system include the need for less water and a lower risk of water damage to the mobile home’s contents.

For more information, contact Dave Martin, Federal Emergency Management Agency, USFA, (202) 6464600.

Trial by fire for five tunnel ventilation systems

A controlled test program begun in May will assess the effects of smoke and heat from fires of different sizes and intensities on five tunnel ventilation systems—natural, transverse, partial transverse, transverse with point extraction, transverse with oversized exhaust ports and longitudinal ventilation using jet fans. The half-milelong, two-lane Memorial Tunnel in West Virginia—abandoned in 1987 when it was bypassed by Interstate 77 —is the site of this experiment, which will include about 130 tests.

The Federal Highway Administration and the Massachusetts Highway Department are funding the 540-million tests as part of the research for operating a 7.5-mile tunnel under construction in Boston.

The test fires proposed will have intensities ranging from 34 to 340 million Btus per hour and will be set in four fire pans inside the tunnel. Durations will be from 15 to 45 minutes. About 1,500 pieces of data per second will be transmitted by sensors to five data acquisition units inside and outside the tunnel. Among the data w ill be temperatures, airflow’ velocities, gas content, and equipment status.

After each test series, the tunnel will be modified and adapted to the next type of ventilation system to be tested. Each system will be subjected to 16 sequences of tests.

Source: ‘Real fires test vent systems,” Judy Schriener (Charleston, West Virginia), Engineering News Record, April 26, 1993, p26.

NFPA Bugbee scholarship awarded to WPI student researcher

The National Fire Protection Association’s S 2,500 Percy Bugbee Scholarship has been awarded to San jay Aggarwal, who is pursuing a master’s degree in fire protection engineering at Worcester (MA) Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

Aggarwal, a native of Hary ana, India, has a bachelor’s degree in fire engineering from Nagpur University in India and served six months as a graduate intern at Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, Oregon. There, he designed and conducted experiments involving the flammable and explosive properties of the pyrophoric gas silane. The topic of his master’s thesis is “Identifying fuels from smoke using the Mie Scattering theory.”

The Bugbee award was instituted by the NFPA in 1987 in honor of its first field engineer, who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’ in 1920. Bugbee headed the NFPA for 30 years, founded the International Conference of Fire Protection Associations, and was the first member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. He died in 1989

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