WELDED PIPE SEVERELY TESTED IN LARGE OIL REFINERY FIRE
Cast-Iron Fittings Were Ruined by Fire, but None of the Welds Were Damaged Steel-Welded Pipe Remained Intart
BECAUSE of the highly flammable nature of their hazardous contents, every possible precaution is taken around oil storage tanks to prevent fires. Smoking or carrying open flame lights are positively forbidden. Elaborate piping systems for foam solutions or other fire-fighting compounds are installed: cross connection pipes are installed to draw off oil from the bottom of a burning tank; and an earthen levee is thrown up about each tank to prevent communication of fire from one tank to another if one should collapse or boil over. Even static electricity is guarded against by carefully grounding all metal vessel and lines. otwithstanding these and many other precautions, tanks occasionally burn, often resulting in great property damage. Recently in southern California lightning struck a 55,000-barrel oil storage tank. The resulting fire was communicated to thirteen other 55,000 barrel tanks, and in addition six 1,000,000 barrel underground reservoirs for crude oil had been destroyed with their contents. The entire area was utterly wrecked, and a total loss.
Fig. 1 shows what remained after the fire. A close study of the wreckage was made by engineers representing oil companies, tank builders, pipe and pipe fitting companies, and others. A number of very significant facts were brought to light.
For instance, it was found that the foam system piping had failed under the intense heat Thus it was impossible to smother several small fires in their early stages, fires which later grew into gigantic proportions. The consensus of opinion was that had this piping system remained intact, several of the tanks would certainly have been saved.
Failure of the foam piping was characteristic of all screwcoupled piping in the fire-swept area, even that buried under ground. Screwed joints pulled out of the fittings and couplings, other couplings and fittings warped or split, allowing the joints to separate. Many fittings collapsed entirely.
In joints made by oxwelding, however, there was no failure whatever. Fig. 2 shows the remains of the pipe connections to a booster pump. Note that all the fitting connections failed, the cast iron ell in the foreground having completely collapsed, yet all the welds in steel pipe remain intact.
In Fig. 4 is shown a 10-in. oil line after the fire. The threaded flange connection at the valve pulled loose but the butt weld a foot away and the oxwelded tee four feet away withstood the fire perfectly.
This fire has served to emphasize again the superiority of the oxwelded joint in such emergencies.
The experience gained by t.his petroleum company at such great expense is a lesson that should be heeded by not only the superintendents of other petroleum companies but by factory executives and managers everywhere. Don’t take chances with piping installed for fire fighting.—Oxy-Acetyline Tips
Fireman Volunteers for Blood Transfusion—Bernard V. Gilooly, operator of the fire alarm system at Somerville, Mass., volunteered twice for a blood transfusion in an attempt to save the life of Clyde McArdle, well known radio entertainer.