Transportation Hazards of Flammable Liquids—Part 2

Transportation Hazards of Flammable Liquids—Part 2

Dangers of Such Transportation Not Confined to City Streets or Congested Areas; Filling Stations Are Sources of Potential Trouble; Procedures for Control and Extinguishment

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a series of texts dealing with hazards attendant upon the transporation, handling and storage of flammable liquids, with emphasis on gasoline, liquified petroleum gases and volatiles having low flash points.

Part I dealt primarily with hazards inherent in transporting flammable petroleum liquids over city thoroughfares. It described the vast expansion of the petroleum industry and the new and broader uses of flammable petroleum products in heating, transportation and other fields. It was shown that the fire record has not been so bad in this category, considering the increased use, handling and shipment of such products. The report pointed out also the need for more and better transport vehicles and for more careful operation, particularly of independently owned and ope- rated transports. It quoted data on the causes of fires involving tank trucks, showing that more fires involving tankers occurred while the vehicles were in motion than while stationary, and collision was most common among causes.

After detailing the hazards in tank truck transportation of flammable liquids, Part I cited numerous case histories of tanker fires within municipal boundaries. It was pointed out, also, that transport loads are getting larger, and hauls are growing longer. Finally, Part I discussed the efforts being made to inaugurate safety measures regulating the movements of flammable liquids through congested and high value areas.

Part II, which follows, carries the studies of these hazards still further. It shows that fires involving motor transports loaded with gasoline and other highly volatile liquids may be just as destructive of life and property on country highways as they are on city streets. In one respect, at least, they are worse: they are more difficult to control and extinguish than similar fires within municipal limits, where ample fire control forces and extinguishing agents are available.

This installment concludes with a summarization of the more commonly used methods and techniques employed in controlling and extinguishing fires in this category, and offers some suggestions for preventive measures.

As in Part I, the editors acknowledge the cooperation of the American Petroleum Institute, Esso Standard Oil Company and National Board of Fire Underwriters. Appreciation is also extended our readers who have forwarded their comments on the initial installment of this series.

IT was shown in the first part of this study that of 301 fires involving tank trucks (and other carriers), 65%, or over two-thirds, occurred while the tankers were in motion. No data are available to compare the number of fires occurring within municipal limits with those reported on country highways, although it is said that the largest percentage have taken place in non-metropolitan areas.

Another factor to be considered is that fires involving transports on country highways more often result in total loss, than where the fires occur in cities. The actual and potential property loss resulting from such fires is of course much greater where the incident occurs within built-up municipal areas.

No study would be complete without some account of typical highway fires that happened in wide open spaces. One such incident occurred.

On the night of July 10, 1948, a Spokane man was killed and two Seattle persons were injured in a threeway collision involving a gasoline truck and trailer, an automobile and a pickup truck. The accident occurred on the Sunset Highway eight miles east of North Bend, Washington, at about 11:30 P.M.

The driver of the gasoline truck was killed when he was trapped in the cab of his tanker. The driver of the pick-up truck and a woman riding with him were injured.

Police reported that the accident occurred as an automobile driven by an 18-year-old youth was attempting to pass the gasoline truck. Both were traveling east. As the youth’s car drew abreast of the tanker, the pick-up truck approached from the opposite direction. The driver of the auto swerved to the left, striking the pick-up truck, throwing it against the gasoline trailer.

Thousands of gallons of gasoline pouring from the truck and trailer burst into flames, the fire spreading for hundreds or feet along the highway, igniting brush and young timber. The pickup truck and the gasoline transport were quickly involved and demolished. The youth’s car received only minor damage.

The North Bend Fire Department was called and extinguished the brush fire, assisted by Forest Service fire fighters. They were unable to cope with the gasoline-fed blaze however, which burned itself out before foam, sent to the scene by Seattle coastguardstnen, could arrive.

Firemen Play a Stream of Water on an Overturned Gasoline Truck Which Burned, Consuming 5,000 Gallons of Gasoline and Blocked U. S. Highway Six, West of Gary, Ind., August 24, 1948. The Truck Upset and, in the Crash, the Gasoline Ignited.Eleven Die in Triple Crash At least eleven persons lost their lives in this flaming inferno when a gasoline tank truck exploded after it had collided with a Queen City Trailways bus at Lumberton, N. C. Eighteen persons were injured and managed somehow to clear themselves from the burning wreckage. All that remains of the bus and truck is a mass of charred steel. The pre-dawn tragedy occurred on U. S. Route 31 when the gasoline truck (left) going north, sideswiped a truck (right) and swerved across the road and ploughed into the fully-loaded bus (center).

It will be noted that this accident took place after dark, shortly before hiidnight, on a well paved highway and that no buildings were involved or exposed.

Earlier in 1948 one man was burned to death and another hurt critically and a country store was destroyed by fire following a collision between a passenger car and a gasoline truck near Rector, Arkansas.

The driver of the automobile died in the wreckage of his car; the driver of the tank truck was badly burned. The country store was ignited by radiated heat from the flaming wreckage. Loss was given as considerable.

This case demonstrated the fact that even in country areas, tanker fires may involve roadside buildings.

Highway Fires Hard to Control

Another highway incident that illustrates the hazards of gasoline and similar flammable liquid transport fires, and which indicates the difficulties in controlling them, occurred on a State Highway at Mountainside, New Jersey, September 9, 1947, when a trailer truck loaded with gasoline mounted the curl) and overturned, sending 4,500 gallons of flaming gasoline cascading down the roadway in twin rivers of fire a halfmile long.

The flames, which leaped over 100 feet in the air, ignited six buildings and a service station, destroyed trees and grass and pulverized the concrete roadt way. No one was injured, the driver of the truck being thrown clear.

The crash occurred at about 5:45 A.M. as the trailer truck was bound west on the four-lane highway. At the top of a grade the driver apparently lost control, and the tanker failed to round a curve. As the vehicle jumped the curb, the trailer broke loose from the truck, which turned over twice, landing right side up on an island in the middle of the highway. The trailer crashed on another section of the island fifteen feet away, its top crushed in. The gasoline escaped from it and fumes ignited almost immediately. Running flames set fire to vegetation, trees, homes and telephone poles and melted the insulation from telephone and power wires.

At the foot of the hill, the flaming gasoline involved a service station, wrecking four fuel pumps and burning out the canopy of the structure. Just beyond this point, the flowing fire poured into a sewer and entered a small brook which runs into Echo Lake Park. The brook was set ablaze for fifty yards beyond the sewer entrance. Meanwhile the fronts of several homes and the twoand-a-half story Mountainside Inn were ignited from radiated heat.

The Mountainside Fire Department was called at 5:55 A.M., and sped to the scene from the west, but was blocked by the flames. Neighboring firemen from Springfield, four miles to the east, were called at once and responded with two pieces of apparatus. They managed to get through the guttters of flames to reach two hydrants which furnished water to control most of the fire extension.

Here, too, fate was kind. A radio patrolman heard the crash and saw the start of the fire. His radiophone proved invaluable in the emergency. Firemen controlled the fire using large fog nozzles.

This fire demonstrated the difficulty in bringing fire control forces into action where the highway fire had cut off their approach to the fire scene, necessitating detours, the calling for additional help that may be at some distance, and perhaps preventing use of the only available water supplies. It also conclusively illustrated the value of twoway radio communications for the fire service, and of coordination of effort on the part of police and fire forces.

Earlier that same year evidence of the destructive possibilities of fire involving highway transportation of such flammables was furnished in a collision between two gasoline-loaded vehicles and a hay truck on the 220 foot Washougal River bridge on the west edge of the town of Washougal, Wash. The bridge, and two oil trucks, one with trailer, were destroyed in the ensuing fire.

The vehicles were traveling the Evergreen highway, the lead oil truck loaded with 3,000 gallons of barrelled gasoline heading east, when it sideswiped a westbound hay truck. The second gasoline tanker and trailer, closely behind, crashed into the first transport when its driver was unable to stop. Fumes

flashed immediately and the drivers of both vehicles fled for their lives. Ironically enough, the hay truck was able to proceed undamaged after the accident.

Following the triple crash, at 8:40 A.M., 40-foot flames melted the girders of the bridge, dropping it and the burning trucks into the river within thirty minutes, according to State Patrolmen who witnessed the accident. Other witnesses reported the collison threw a barrel of fuel off the first truck and fire ignited its leaking contents, to quickly involve both trucks and trailer.

The Washougal Fire Department was called by State Police, but could do nothing with the blazing gasoline. The 21-year-old bridge is reported to have cost over $225,000 to replace. One truck with 3,000 gallons of gasoline, valued at $6,000 and another truck, its trailer, loaded with 6,000 gallons of fuel, valued at $18,000, were both total losses. Highway traffic on a major route had to be rerouted with considerable inconvenience and some economic loss to travelers.

Sharpshooters Aid in Fighting Oil Truck Fire Volunteer firemen at Clifton Park, N. Y., became sharpshooters as they vainly tried to save a trailer truck loaded with 5,000 gallons of gasoline from the fire that destroyed it. When state policemen were unable to penetrate the tank with bullets from their revolvers, the volunteer firemen used rifles and steel-jacketed bullets to accomplish the job and in this view of the fire, a sharpshooter is seen, right, taking aim at the blazing vehicle. This is not considered a practical method of relieving pressure in burning tanks.Curtains for Zacchini Cannonball Circus Act! A crash between an oil truck and the truck used by Edmund Zacchini and his daughter in their famous circus act in which they were catapulted from a cannon, temporarily ended the act, with a loss reported by Zacchini at $10,000. The oil truck and cannon-catapult vehicle were both wrecked by the crash and subsequent fire, although neither of the two performers was injured. The driver of the oil truck suffered burns and abrasions. The accident occurred on the Gary-East Chicago boundary line.

The hazards in the transportation of flammable liquids are not all confined to gasoline and other volatiles having low flash points. There are accounts of highway accidents involving tankers and trucks carrying fuel oil and distillates in which fire ensued, with loss of life and property.

One such episode was described in the July, 1946 FIRE ENGINEERING. An oil truck being operated on the Gary-East Chicago highway, near Gary, collided with the “cannon” truck used by Edmund Zacchini and his daughter in their famous circus “cannonball” act. The oil truck and the “cannonball” vehicle were both wrecked and burned. Fortunately neither of the Zacchinis was injured, but the driver of the tanker suffered burns and abrasions.

In another case, in November, 1947, a tractor-tanker loaded with fuel oil was involved in a collision with a tractortrailer carrying twelve tons of bricks on Route 22, east of Phillipsburg, N. J. Oil from the ruptured tank was ignited, sending a flaming stream down the roadway’s gutters for 100 yards and blocking the highway to New York for four hours.

The driver of the brick truck was pulled unconscious from his wrecked cab, before the flames reached him, by the driver of the tanker, who was himself cut and burned.

The accident was caused when a front tire of the brick truck blew out, causing the vehicle to swerve into the rear of the tanker, which was going in the opposite direction. Both vehicles were a total loss, but there was no roadside property damage.

In another collision between a private automobile and a tractor-trailer loaded with kerosene, which occurred in April, 1946, two persons were killed and three injured, one critically.

This accident occurred in an underpass of the Pittsburgh, Shawmut and Northern Railroad, on State Highway 17, about five miles west of Bolivar, N. Y. In this crack-up, too, the driver of the trailer-tractor managed to rescue two occupants of the other wrecked vehicle despite his own serious injuries. Two victims were burned beyond recognition when the 4,000 gallons of kerosene in the tanker, became ignited and formed a blazing lake around the motor car. The fire was so fierce it consumed the wooden ties of the railroad tracks overhead, stopping rail traffic until repairs could be made.

The oil truck, going west, shot out of the underpass after the collision and up the inclined highway several feet before it overturned. Apparently the damaged truck caught fire almost immediately and its contents of flaming oil poured down the slope into the underpass. The tanker driver, ran ahead of the fiery flood to drag out the two occupants of the rear seat of the auto.

Highway tanker accidents (and fires) can more directly involve railroads.

The worst disaster of its kind in Delaware County, Penn., occurred in 1945 when a Philadelphia Transportation Company trolley and a large fuel oil trailer-truck crashed and burned. Five persons, including a five year-old girl, were killed as fire followed the explosion of three of the fuel tanks on the truck after the crash. One of the victimes was the driver of the truck.

In addition to four person who were trapped by the flames in the trolley, six other passengers escaped from a rear door. Four suffered serious burns.

In this accident, the 3,500 gallons of Bunker C fuel oil in the carrier did not ignite and burn, although both the truck cab and trolley were destroyed by the flames.

The collision took place at the intersection of a private right of way on the P.T.C. and the Industrial Highway about a mile east of Lester, Pa. The Route 37 trolley was bound for Chester. The truck’s main and two auxiliary gasoline tanks ruptured and the vapors ignited, causing three explosions following which, fire quickly enveloped the trolley, burning it to its steel chassis. The cabin and tank of the truck were torn apart and the driver trapped in the blazing cab.

It was disclosed that a blinker light, operated by a trip switch was working, but the truck proceeded upon the tracks, being struck head-on by the trolley.

Firemen and police from a wide area, including a rescue squad and two ladder companies from Philadelphia, pumpers and rescue squads from Chester, and volunteer companies from Lester, Essington, Ridley Township, Prospect Park and Sharon Hill converged on the scene, although there was little for them to do but extricate the victims.

Through service on Route 37 was tied up almost seven hours.

Control and Extinguishment

There can be no set procedure for controlling and extinguishing these types of fire we have described. The methods employed will depend upon a number of factors, such as location of the fire, whether in the open, on the highway, or on city streets; the life and property at risk, and the available fire fighting and rescue facilities.

Naturally, the first consideration is the saving of life but no time should be lost, also, in summoning adequate help.

Water-Fog and Foam Control Tank Truck Fire Firemen stretch in to start operation of extinguishing fire involving gas tanker near Williamsport, Pa. Fire was knocked down by fog, after which foam was applied to finish the job.


Tank Truck: Any single self-propelled motor vehicle equipped with a cargo tank mounted thereon, and used for the transportation of flammable liquids.

Tank Full Trailer: Any vehicle, without motive power, equipped with a cargo tank mounted thereon or built as an integral part thereof and used for the transportation of flammable liquids, and so constructed that when drawn by a truck or tractor-truck, no part of its weight rests upon the towing vehicle.

Tank Semi-trailer: Any vehicle, without motive power, equipped with a cargo tank mounted thereon or built as an integral part thereof, and used for the transportation of flammable liquids, and so constructed that when drawn by a tractor-truck by means of a fifth wheel connection, some part of its load and weight rests upon the towing vehicle.

Tank Vehicle: Any tank truck, tank full trailer, or tractor and tank semitrailer combination.

Cargo Tank: Any container having a liquid capacity in excess of 100 gallons, used for the carrying of flammable liquids, and mounted permanently or otherwise upon a tank vehicle. The term “cargo tank” does not apply to any container used solely for the purpose of supplying fuel for the propulsion of the tank vehicle upon which it is mounted.

Flammable Liquids: Liquids having a flash point below 187° F. (Tag closed Cup, ASTM D56, API 509) which, for the purposes of this specification (API Specifications for Tank Vehicles, 1946), shall be divided into two classes, viz.:

Class “A,” embracing those flammable liquids having a flash point below 70° F.

Class “B,” embracing those flammable liquids having a flash point from 70° to 187° F., inclusive.

If special equipment and extinguishing agents are going to be needed, i.e., foam, fog nozzles, applicators, masks, lighting equipment etc., the officer in command should know where to get them, and call for them. In this connection, and for securing ambulances and medical assistance, as well as for directing control of incoming fire forces and other details, it will help to early locate a fire or police radio equipped car, at a strategic location on the fire ground. This can serve as the command post, or G.H.Q., for directing all operations, and as a first aid station.

Severe Life Hazard

This type of fire of fire, with the tendency of vapors to travel considerable distances and to pocket at low levels and flash on contact with spark or flame, presents a severe life hazard. Pedestrians, spectators, operators of vehicles and firemen in the area may be seriously endangered, particularly on the leeward side of the fire.

The hazard is intensified in city streets where there are elevated structures or tunnels and subways, or in any location where the accident occurs on a bridge (as was described in the foregoing).

As quickly as possible, traffic should be stopped a safe distance from the scene. At the same time, the fire area should be cleared of all but firemen and other emergency workers. Additional police should be brought in, if necessary, to aid in this.

In view of the possibilities of injury to firemen and others, even if there are no immediate casualties involved in the crackup, it is good policy to summon ambulances and first-aiders, to stand by. If there is a possibility of fire involving power and communication facilities, the proper utilities should be notified.

Cover the Exposures

Prevention of extension of the fire is next in importance to saving life. Even if the accident occurs on the open road, there is the possibility of extension by radiated heat or direct contact to start ground or forest fires. Although the possibilities of explosion of the tanker itself are remote, if the fumes are venting, such possibility should always be anticipated and the safety of fire fighters insured as far as possible.

In the city, where valuable property may be at risk, the first operation should be to cover the most critical exposures. These are usually to leeward if there is any wind blowing, or at the lowest point of any gradient.

In placing apparatus to cover exposures it is well to play safe, locating equipment where it will not be caught in a flareup, or blast, or rapid extension of the fire. In covering exposures it may be necessary to let the tank truck and contents burn until sufficient fire fighting strength is available to attack the truck fire without weakening the protection of exposed property.

If deck pipes are available and there is sufficient water supply available, it would be advisable to place them in position to cover building fronts from a side angle, sweeping the exposed properties. If available a large capacity fog nozzle (500 G.P.M. or greater) may prove effective, directing the pattern so that the water droplets drift downwind onto the exposures. Large volume fog (unless there is a very high wind which cannot be taken advantage of), will cover and cool exposed surfaces, while breaking down radiated heat better than a straight stream. It has the added advantage of not breaking windows to permit heat and fire to extend into structures.

If no such fog nozzles are available, but heavy streams can be developed and there is considerable extension of fire threatening a wide area, the heavy streams may be directed vertically, to impinge and form a heavy curtain of coarse spray.

As rapidly as possible band lines should be taken into structures that may be, or threaten to become, involved by the street fire. Fast work will be necessary to cover many floors with few lines. Unless the fire has too great command of interiors, one-and-one-half inch lines (or even booster lines) are preferable. Where lines are limited, hand extinguishers of any and all types may be pressed into service for covering exposures. If there are auxiliary fire fighting facilities, these may be used.

Particular attention should be paid to cornices and top floors of exposed structures for possible extensions due to radiated heat. It may be well to post watchers on roofs of exposures, although this type of fire does not emit sparks or embers unless structural property is involved. All windows and structural openings in the path of the fire should be closed.

If the fire extends into sewers, street covers should be removed where this can be done without exposing nearby property, to permit escape of gases. Lines should be stretched into basements of buildings severely exposed, to be ready to protect against entrance of fire from sewer lines, conduits, etc.

A flowing fire may be diverted from entering sewers or streams by damming it with sand or dirt. Note the grade in the street and anticipate the direction of the flow.

Prohibit all smoking, extinguish all open flames and have all motors stopped except for necessary apparatus, in the area where vapors may accumulate. It might be well also to remove all vehicles from the possible path of fire extension.

Six Were Killed When Oil Truck and Trolley Crashed at Lester, Pa. View of Charred Wreckage After Collision.

Power should be cut from overhead wires which might become involved and endanger fire fighters or others.

Use Wafer Carefully

It should be unnecessary to advocate caution in the use of water on gasoline or other flammable oil fires. Water may spread the fire and carry it down grade and into sewers. It is better to dyke the flowing fire. Caution should be used in applying water to sluice away spilled flammable liquids. Be cautious of any fire where the involved tanker is on a grade. The fire may release the brakes, permitting the vehicle to move downhill. Try to chock the wheels, under these conditions.

Firemen should not approach too closely to the burning truck or its contents if conditions are severe or explosions likely. If fog nozzles and applicators are available, men should attack under their protection.

In general, fog or fine spray should be employed to cool the container and prevent flashbacks, while foam or fog-foam, carbon dioxide or dry powder extinguishers can be employed for killing the fire in the flammable liquid itself. Wetting agent intruded into fog streams, or even straight booster lines, increases their extinguishing properties on certain types of flammable liquid fires notably kerosene. Its efficiency on large gasoline, as well as butane, propane and L.P.G., fires is as yet not fully determined.

When applying streams or fog onto the tanker for cooling, should only one or two compartments be involved, endeavor to concentrate on the remaining compartments. In attempting to sluice away burning liquids on the road, direct the streams so that the carry-off will endanger the least amount of property.

Finally, do not leave the fire scene until all possible danger of re-kindle or re-ignition is past. Heat may be stored up in metal parts, or tires, or even in roadside vegetation, to re-flash volatile vapors. As long as vapors continue to be given off from the container or highway, keep fire and crowds away, and be vigilant.

Some Additional Preventive and Protective Measures

Fires such as have been described, on the highways, may create just as great crowds of the curious as where they happen in cities. One difference is that having little or no municipal police or traffic force to aid them, fire fighters operating in country territory are more liable to be handicapped by the curiosity seekers and eager, but untrained helpers.

In dealing with fires in flammable liquids, where explosions and flare-ups are always possible, the life hazard is greatly multiplied. The records include several accounts of lives being lost, and many persons injured, by spectators crowding too closely to such fires. This is illustrated in an accompanying photograph of a fire at Gary, Indiana.

All persons not engaged in rescue or fire fighting operations should be kept at a safe distance. Motorists, also, should be compelled to “keep going” or, if they have already stopped their cars before law enforcement forces arrive, they should be compelled to move them out of the danger zone. Here is a detail where power voice amplifiers or a portable P.A. system can be helpful!

Another detail is training. Small town firemen usually are unfamiliar with the construction of motor vehicles used to transport flammable liquids. This is particularly true of carriers of L.P.G. (liquified petroleum gas such as butane and propane). The average fireman is ignorant of details of markings, safety vents, delivery pumps and connections, outlets and intakes, drag chains and the like. Few have ever discussed these factors, and the procedures to follow in the event of fire in such carriers, with those who drive and operate the latter.

Firemen Should Be Familiar with Petroleum Products

A few lessons in familiarizing firemen with such factors and in discussing fire control methods and extinguishing agents with the men familiar with petroleum products, their handling and storage, may prove of inestimable value in an emergency.

This is one form of inspection—inspection for learning. Another form of inspection is advisable, also. That is where there are regulations and ordinances designed to govern the operation of such vehicles. This is particularly true in communities having fire prevention and safety codes.

As was pointed out in Part I, there is a shortage of approved transports for transporting flammable liquids. There are carriers on the roads which are deficient in safety measures. There are operators also who do not measure up to approved standards. True, most of these conditions are found in the field of independent tanker owners.

Constant and thorough checkup and inspections of carriers and operators will help prevent accidents and perhaps serious loss of life and property.

Energetic and honest enforcement of regulations, where they exist is essential. Where there are no regulations, as in the case of many country areas where the state or county has failed to create them, adequate safety provisions and standards should be adopted. There is no mystery about these or what they should contain. There are ample suggestions in Codes issued by the National Board of Fire Underwriters. The American Petroleum Institute is a good source of helpful information on this score.

As a last suggestion—“enlightenment.” More education on the uses and abuses of flammable petroleum products is needed, both in the fire service and among citizens generally. This isn’t a task solely for the fire service, but it is one in which its personnel can cooperate.

Burning Tankers Wreck Steel Bridge Following a crash between two gasoline tank trucks and a hay truck on the Washougal River bridge at Washougal, Washington, ensuing fire wrecked the span. Upper view shows fire at its height, with far side of span beginning to sag. Note gasoline burning on river surface.Lower view shows the bridge just after it fell.


A series of surveys and studies by FIRE ENGINEERING over a period of years, covering cities, towns and villages, disclosed the following:

  1. Gasoline was being transported through city streets in business and high value districts. Such transportation was on the increase.
  2. Although many communities reported accidents to tank trucks (for the most part as a result of collisions), fire resulted in only a small percentage of cases. Undoubtedly this was due to prompt protective measures taken by the fire department in cutting off and policing the area, controlling the flow of spilled flammables, and correcting mechanical faults or failures in the transport.
  3. There were more such accidents, with and without resulting fires, on thoroughfares outside the business and high value districts than within them. Some chiefs attributed this to efforts made to keep such transports off busy, crowded streets and, secondly, to the slower pace necessitated in operating transports through business thoroughfares, with their greater traffic.
  4. Fires involving shipment of flammable liquids on city streets, resulting from whatever causes, were about evenly divided in number with fires in or connected with tankers while engaged in loading or discharging operations, at storage plants or filling stations and garages. In short, the actual number of fires in gasoline or other highly volatile liquids, occurring on city streets of business sections has been relatively small compared with the total of all gasoline tank truck fires on all highways and byways.
  5. A surprisingly large number of communities either have no local ordinances regulating the transportation, handling and storage of flammable liquids, or the laws are out-of-date or loosely drawn and do not conform with the recommended codes.
  6. There has not been the cooperation between fire departments, oil companies and oil distributing agencies that many believe is advisable. In some cases, real cooperation has resulted in re-routing of hazardous transports, removal from streets of sub-standard vehicles, and improvements in driving practices without resorting to labored legal procedure.
  7. There is an increase in the transportation of liquefied petroleum gases— propane, butane and mixtures.
  8. In many instances, local ordinances covering “flammable liquids” do not make provision for the extra hazards in the transportation, handling and storage of L.I’.G. products.
  9. The evidence shows the majority of accidents and/or fires involving transportation and handling of flammable liquids to be due to causes which, had the recommended codes been in effect, would not have happened.
  10. The evidence discloses, furthermore, that there are more accidents to automotive tankers owned and operated by independent concerns, than to those belonging to the major oil companies.
  11. Lastly, all testimony of late years, points to the consistent efforts of these better companies to set up and maintain most stringent safety measures, and to work with local fire services in furthering safety in every stage of the refining, transportation, handling and storage of these flammable products.

Almost from the day the first gallon of gasoline was transported by motor truck through the streets of a municipality, fire officials voiced concern over the hazards introduced by such shipment.

Initial efforts to regulate both the cargo carriers and the procedures and methods of transportation of flammable liquids met with little success. However, as evidences of the need of regulations to control such transportation multiplied, buttressed by actual fire records, many municipalities and some states set up laws and ordinances for that purpose. This was even before the experiences of the state of Kansas, previously told.

One of the chief stumbling blocks to these regulations, however, was the effort to restrict tank truck transportation to thoroughfares and areas of least life and property exposure. As far back as 1932, chiefs recommended to FIRE ENGINEERING (1) that tank truck transportation of gasoline and other flammable solvents, be prohibited from city streets and (2) where deliveries must be made within cities, the size (capacities) of such vehicles be limited to a “safe” minimum. In some communities this was set at 600 gallons; in others 1,500 gallons; and in others, compartmentized tankers with compartments not to exceed 600 gallons each were demanded.

There has been little disagreement over the fundamentals of tanker construction, of mechanical safeguards on tanker and in the filling station and bulk handling plants. The Safety practices for operators have been fairly well standardized. But there has not been full agreement on the regulations for through, bulk transportation of such flammables in cities and special high hazard areas. Efforts to restrict transportation—deliveries and pickups to daylight hours, or certain periods of the day (some chiefs have recommended no such transportation between the hours of 3:30 P.M. and 6:00 P.M.) have generally been unavailing. The war, fuel shortages and rationing influenced gasoline delivery and transportation schedules.

Another factor of disagreement is the enforcement of regulations having to do with transportation of flammable liquids, where they are in effect. Not many states have comprehensive regulatory measures applying to statewide or interstate shipments of these flammables. In some that do, enforcement of the statutes in effect are in the hands of agencies not connected with the fire service. In one or two, the authority rests with the labor department: in another state it is the “industrial commission.” And even in those states where there are fire marshals, the responsibility for enforcement may not rest in the marshal’s office. At least 24 states either have no fire marshal, or if they do, the marshal has no voice in regulatory measures of this nature.

There the matter stands today. At this writing, we are informed, a code committee representing all factors concerned with the problem of regulatory safeguards for handling, transportation and storage of flammable liquids, is at work on a revised code.

Newly Elected Officers of the Dominion Association of Fire Chiefs. Left to right are Chief Robert C. McRonald, London, Ont., First Vice-President; Chief Charles H. Vince of Guelph, Ont., President, and Chief W. H. Short of Lethbridge, Alta., Second Vice-President.

Photo by W. J. Scott

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