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Within the last 6 months my department has responded to 2 structure fires where home health care oxygen cylinders have exploded. In one case we were aware of the existence thru home owner reports and went defensive early due to the extent of fire in the structure. When the tank failed it was a violent explosion but resulted in no injuries. The last incident involved a tank in the garage that exploded violently and unexpectedly resulting in minor injuries to 5 firefighters. We are trying to establish a marking/notiifcation system for home health care oxygen so that we can avoid the possibilties of more disasterous consequences. Anyone else have experiences or procedures in place??

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Hello Mike,

In July of 1996 my Department experienced and catastophic a fatal fire in a 3 1/2 story, 12 unit wood framed apartment house. The initial alarm was received via Master Box then calls for fire and explosion. Our companies arrived to find heavy fire on floors 2,3, attic through the roof and into exposure 2. The building was being evacuated, we made an attempt to reach the apartment on floor 2 rear but were driven out quickly not only due to fire conditions but structural damage as well. The explosion had displaced the exterior wall on side 2 floor 2 over 9 inches and side 3 floor 2 over ten inches. The third floor collapsed lean-too style into floor 2. Two cars were burning in the lot on side 3.
There was one civilian fatality and five Firefighter injuries on this very hot day, the total response was a third alarm plus one engine (8 Engines 3 Trucks 2 Ambulance Rescues various Chiefs and support).
The investigation revealed that a 60 liter Liquid Oxygen Tank failed after tampering by the resident who was also burning incense at the time. I don't know who posted it but You Tube Mansfield Apartment Fire for a video of the event.
I had previous experience of a leak in a persription LOX tank on floor two of a three story elderly housing complex fortunately we got lucky there and the incident terminated without difficulty.
Stay safe
Jim Puleo
Just a side note for the question about unchambered ammunition.... My department covers a large mostly rural area where hunting is still a very popular way of life. Fact is I think every fire We have been to in one way or another has had ammunition involved. We have researched this topic very extensively. sorry i am unable to recall our sources but if you would like them I can dig them up for you. what we found was .22 caliber (the most common rim fire caliber) will produce a projectile. but in our research we found a shell that uses a primer, ( a cap, tube, or wafer containing percussion powder or compound used to ignite an explosive charge)the charge and the ingnited powder is released through the base of the shell without causing the bullet to discharge, this is also true for ammuntion in the magazine. the round in the chamber may release a projectile. Keep in mind that in some cases even with a primer the bullet may exit the shell, but with very low velocity and we could not find any cases where firefighters were injured or even felt it if they were hit. hope this helped.
John Aldrich,
Can you help me out with the information you referenced in your post about the ammunition and how it reacts in structure fires. After the recent case of the firefighter being injured, our department would like to plan a future department training on this. Thanks for your help.
birge@ggfire.com
In our country the oxygen cilinder company does 2 things to warn fire fighters:

- when delivering oxygen cilinders to a home for the first time, they apply a sticker next to the front door, warning that oxygen is in the house

- they also inform our alarm center about the presence of oxygen on that address. This info is linked to the address, and when a fire alarm comes for this address, the units going there are informed about the possible presence of oxygen.

As soon as the delivery of oxygen is stopped, the gas company should inform the alarm center to remove the pxygen info from the address.

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