“CSB Warns About Danger of Hot Work on Tanks Containing Biological or Organic Material”


Earlier this month a team of CSB investigators deployed to the Omega Protein facility in Moss Point, Mississippi, where a tank explosion on July 28, 2014, killed a contract worker and severely injured another. Our team, working alongside federal OSHA inspectors, found that the incident occurred during hot work on or near a tank containing eight inches of a slurry of water and fish matter known as “stickwater.”DSCN1166

The explosion blew the lid off the 30-foot-high tank, fatally injuring a contract worker who was on top of the tank. A second contract worker on the tank was severely injured. CSB investigators commissioned laboratory testing of the stickwater and found telltale signs of microbial activity in the samples, such as the presence of volatile fatty acids in the liquid samples and offgassing of flammable methane and hydrogen sulfide.

The stickwater inside of the storage tank had been thought to be nonhazardous. No combustible gas testing was done on the contents of the tank before the hot work commenced.

This tragedy underscores the extreme importance of careful hot work planning, hazard evaluation, and procedures for all storage tanks, whether or not flammable material is expected to be present. Hot work dangers are not limited to the oil, gas, and chemical sectors where flammability hazards are commonplace.

The CSB has now examined three serious hot work incidents—all with fatalities—involving hot work on tanks of biological or organic matter. At the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA), three workers were killed on July 29, 2008, as they were performing hot work on a catwalk above an 80-foot-tall tank of “white water,” a slurry of pulp fiber waste and water.  CSB laboratory testing identified anaerobic, hydrogen-producing bacteria in the tank.  The hydrogen gas ignited, ripping open the tank lid and sending workers tumbling to their deaths.

On February 16, 2009, a welding contractor was killed while repairing a water clarifier tank at the ConAgra Foods facility in Boardman, Oregon. The tank held water and waste from potato washing; the CSB investigation found that water and organic material had built up beneath the base of the tank and decayed through microbial action, producing flammable gas that exploded.

Mixtures of water with fish, potatoes, or cardboard waste could understandably be assumed to be benign and pose little safety risk to workers. It is vital that companies, contract firms, and maintenance personnel recognize that in the confines of a storage tank, seemingly non-hazardous organic substances can release flammable gases at levels that cause the vapor space to exceed the lower flammability limit. Under those conditions, a simple spark or even conducted heat from hot work can prove disastrous.

I urge all companies to follow the positive example set by the DuPont Corporation, after a fatal hot work tragedy occurred at a DuPont chemical site near Buffalo, New York. Following CSB recommendations from 2012, DuPont instituted a series of reforms to hot work safety practices on a global basis, including requirements for combustible gas monitoring when planning for welding or other hot work on or near storage tanks or adjacent spaces.

Combustible gas testing is simple, safe, and affordable. It is a recommended practice of the National Fire Protection Association, The American Petroleum Institute, FM Global, and other safety organizations that produce hot work guidance. Combustible gas testing is important on tanks that hold or have held flammables, but it is equally important—if not more so—for tanks where flammables are not understood to be present. It will save lives.


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Change Batteries in Smoke and CO Alarms When Moving Clocks One Hour Forward! (Daylight Savings Time!)

MANY People Don’t Do This! Don’t Be a Statistic! Change Those Batteries!

Do you have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home? Are they working? Sunday, March 9, marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time in the United States. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to take the time to replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when turning clocks forward this weekend.  Make it an annual habit. This habit could save your life.

Working smoke and CO alarms, which means having fresh batteries, adds an important layer of safety to your home. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. There are more than 362,000 home fires every year and more than 2,200 people die in them, according to CPSC’s latest Residential Fire Loss Estimates report.

Batteries in battery-powered alarms need to be replaced every year. In addition, CPSC recommends that consumers test their alarms every month to make sure they are working.  Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside sleeping areas.

Although more than 90 percent of U.S. homes report having at least one working smoke alarm, only 42 percent report having a working CO alarm, based on 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data.  CO alarms can alert you and your family to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide inside your home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 400 people die each year in the United States from CO poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is called the invisible killer, because you cannot see or smell it. This poisonous gas can come from many sources, including cars, furnaces and portable generators, and can quickly incapacitate and kill its victims.

Put CO alarms on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas.  Like smoke alarms, CO alarms need fresh batteries every year. CO alarms also should be tested once a month to make sure they are working.

Fire Prevention Weekly Update – September 17, 2013






Fire prevention news articles

Campaigns/other fire safety activities

Campus fire safety

Inspections/code enforcement

Smoke alarms


Wildland fire safety

Fire safety tips and reminders

Other safety news

International news

NFPA Looking For Fire Departments To Help Them Deliver Fire Safety With Domino’s & The Home Depot For Fire Prevention Week 2013

Detroit Fire Department kicked-off the 2012 FPW Domino’s program

NFPA teams up with organizations and fire departments across the country regularly to expand the reach of fire safety information, but the biggest push by far happens each October around Fire Prevention Week. FPW, as it is referred to by many, is a time when the fire service and communities rally around fire prevention and safety. NFPA has been involved in this effort for more than 90 years as the week’s official sponsor. FPW will take place October 6-12 this year and NFPA is once again working with a variety of groups to help spread important fire safety information.

Marking its sixth year of collaboration on what has been a very successful Fire Prevention Week public awareness program, NFPA and Domino’s are teaming up with fire departments to deliver fire safety to Domino’s customers… with pizza! During Fire Prevention Week and throughout the month of October, in addition to fire safety tips being delivered on the top of pizza boxes, participating Domino’s stores will partner with their local fire departments to reward customers who have working smoke alarms. The fire department will deliver select orders from the store aboard a fire truck and check smoke alarms at the home. If the smoke alarms are working, the pizza is free!

The Home Depot encourages learning in their communities by hosting Saturday workshops year round, and in October they include a focus on fire safety. In collaboration with Kidde, local fire departments, and others, stores host community events that feature information and activities geared toward fire safety. Last year, NFPA teamed up with The Home Depot and Kidde on Fire Prevention Week events and as part of a larger program, The Home Depot ran a sales contest for store associates where the reward to top selling stores was the ability to donate smoke alarms to their local fire department.

If you are a member of a fire department and are interested in learning more about how to participate in one of these fire safety initiatives or others in your community, please email escafidi today.

– by NFPA’s Eileen Scafidi

Solar Panels Growing Hazard for Firefighters

Concerns over electrocution and a lack of roof access hampered firefighting efforts at Dietz & Watson blaze
By Vince Lattanzio |  Tuesday, Sep 3, 2013

Firefighters battling the massive 11-alarm blaze at the Dietz & Watson distribution center in South Jersey faced an unlikely foe during the fight — solar panels.

A solar array with more than 7,000 photovoltaic panels lined the roof of the nearly 300,000 square-foot refrigeration facility which served as a temporary storage center for the company’s deli meats and cheeses. But the panels, while environmentally sustainable and cost-saving, may have led to the complete destruction of the warehouse.

Fighting the fire under bright blue skies Sunday, Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt was forced to keep firefighters from attacking the blaze from the roof because of electrocution concerns.

“With all that power and energy up there, I can’t jeopardize a guy’s life for that,” said Holt. Those electrocution fears combined with concerns of a collapse forced firefighters to simply spray the building with water and foam from afar.

Ken Willette from the National Fire Protection Association, a nonprofit that develops standards for firefighting, says electrocution is one of the hazards firefighters are increasingly facing fighting blazes at structures where solar panels are deployed.

“Those panels, as long as there’s any kind of light present, whether it’s daylight or it’s electronic lamp light, will generate electricity,” he said.

A 2011 study from the Underwriters Laboratory found solar panels, being individual energy producers, could not be easily de-energized from a single point like other electric sources. Researchers recommended throwing a tarp over the panels to block light, but only if crews could safely get to the area.

“Very often they’re not wired like your home, where you have a master breaker. Even if you turn the breaker off, the panels still generate electricity and you need to cover them and prevent any light from getting into them,” Willette said.

Flooding a roof with solar panels also presents access issues that can stop firefighters from making ventilation holes used to extinguish the fire.

Willette says the issues force firefighters to take a defensive approach to fighting the flames by staying away from the building – rather than going inside and attacking the fire source.

“It definitely impedes the firefighting operation and any time you impede firefighting operation, you slow down suppression efforts,” he said.

From 2010 through 2012, photovoltaic solar panel installations have jumped nearly 300-percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Forecasts show the trend will continue to increase sharply through 2017. The SEIA also says New Jersey has the second highest solar capacity in the United States.

With the continued growth of solar panels and other alternative energies, Willette says code officials, builders and developers need to work with local fire departments to ensure installations are designed with firefighting in mind.

“The new paradigm is firefighters might encounter building systems they have little or no knowledge of,” Willette said. “It used to be homes and commercial buildings had roofs and walls and heating and ventilation systems that the fire service was used to dealing with…modern technology, both in building construction and these other alternative energy systems, have changed that.”

Source: NBC 10 Philadelphia


USFA Fire Prevention Weekly Update – August 29, 2013



  1. Campaigns / Other Fire Prevention Efforts
  2. Campus fire safety
  3. Inspections/Code enforcement
  4. Smoke Alarms
  5. Sprinklers
  6. Wildland Fire Safety
  7. Fire safety tips and reminders
  8. Other Safety News
  9. International News

Links to Fire Prevention-related news articles – Updated 08/26/2013

Campaigns/ Other Fire Safety Activities

  1. Study: fire risk reduced by home visits ( U.K.)
  2. Community Wide Home Fire Prevention Seminar (Florida)
  3. Golder Ranch teaches kids fire safety
  4. Marshall Fire Department to giveaway smoke, carbon monoxide detectors
  5. Houston Fire Department: Working Smoke Detectors Save Lives
  6. Springfield Offers Free Smoke Detectors for Older Residents (Massachusetts)

Campus fire safety

  1. Shaw University holds campus fire safety demonstration (North Carolina)
  2. Fire safety emphasized for college students (West Virginia)

Inspections / Code enforcement

  1. n/a

Smoke Alarms

  1. Houston Fire Department: Working Smoke Detectors Save Lives


  1. New Sioux Falls apartments will need fire sprinklers
  2. Counties pursue different courses on fire safety (Illinois)
  3. Sprinklers prove effectiveness in apartment fire
  4. Residential Sprinkler Systems

Wildland Fire Safety

  1. Desire for wild spaces ignites U.S. fire insurance hazard
  2. 5 Ways to Prepare Your Property for Wildfire Now
  3. Texas Residents Urged to Use Care With Labor Day Fires

Safety tips and reminders

  1. Children fire safety tips (Fiji)
  2. Tenn. Fire Marshal’s office urges older adults to take fire-safety measures

Other Safety News

  1. Chief Kyle Minick receives Bringing Safety Home Award
  2. New NFPA report describes fires in religious and funeral properties

Fire Prevention News: International

  1. Smoke alarm fitted by the fire service saved woman, 83, from Hemel Hempstead (UK)
  2. Fire Risk Massively Reduced by Home Visits

Fire Prevention Weekly Update – July 9, 2013


  1. Campaigns / Other Fire Prevention Efforts
  2. Campus fire safety
  3. Inspections/Code enforcement
  4. Smoke Alarms
  5. Sprinklers
  6. Wildland Fire Safety
  7. Fire safety tips and reminders
  8. Other Safety News
  9. International News

Campaigns/ Other Fire Safety Activities

  1. Lancaster City Fire Department has free smoke detector program

Campus fire safety

  1. Fatal Fire Leads to Safe Student Housing List (Ohio)
  2. State College apartment complex destroyed by fire

Inspections / Code enforcement

  1. New Michigan Laws Put Fireworks Safety in the Spotlight
  2. Why Local Fire Chiefs Think Ban on Sky Lanterns Is a Good Idea (Illinois)

Smoke Alarms

  1. Smoke Detectors Can Save Lives
  2. iPhone Dock Smoke Alarm Alerts You During Sleep
  3. Stressing the Importance of Smoke Detector Maintenance (Nevada)


  1. Fire and life safety educator talks about public awareness of residential fire sprinklers
  2. Sprinkler system does its job; prevents fire spread at Oro Valley apartment
  3. Lafayette Fire Dept conducts sprinkler experiment
  4. Performance of residential fire sprinklers with sloped ceilings (NFPA)

Wildland Fire Safety

  1. Fireworks and wildfire: a flame to the tinder – Michigan State University Extension
  2. Experts See a New Normal: A Tinderbox West, With More Huge Fires
  3. Home Fire-Safe Checklist/Defensible Space
  4. Wildfire and Fireworks: Reduce Your Risks
  5. Wildfire experts call for more controlled burns

Safety tips and reminders

  1. Ill. State Fire Marshal has tips for home safety
  2. Keep your home and family safe in a fire (Pennsylvania)

Other Safety News

  1. Boy, 2, dies, bringing central Pa. fire toll to 7
  2. CHILD DROWNINGS: Officials offer strategies to prevent them
  3. Grant to Ga. fire department pays for 4,000 smoke detectors
  4. 28 injured at Calif. fireworks after platform tips
  5. Man helping with SC fireworks show hurt in blast
  6. Fatal house fire possibly cause by fireworks
  7. 2 dead in Richmond blaze linked to fireworks

Fire Prevention News: International

  1. Smoke alarms needed to be fitted in the right place, fire chief warns (UK)

Fire Sprinkler Bill Pushes On In Illinois

An investigative report by NBC Chicago highlights a battle raging in Illinois as State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis is working to update the state fire code, unchanged for the past twelve years. According to the report “the one he’s proposing is a big one: a first-ever requirement for fire sprinklers in all new single-family homes, including those built in Chicago.”

“As far as I’m concerned, everyone in Illinois deserves safe housing,” Matkaitis told NBC Chicago. “Every state fire marshal in the country is trying to do the same thing that I am, for the same reason.”

The report also focused on the “testy relationship between Matkaitis and the City of Chicago” because the city insists, under home rule authority, it doesn’t have to follow the state fire code at all. The largest sticking point: retrofitting residential high-rises with fire sprinkler systems.

“The statute applies all over the State of Illinois, whether it’s Chicago or Cairo,” Matkaitis said. “I want cooperation from everybody to save lives and property. Remember that. Save lives and property. That’s the only thing that I do.”

Interviewed for the report was NFPA President James Shannon who said; “There’s no question that residential high-rises should have sprinklers…where sprinklers are involved, the chance that somebody’s going to die in a fire in one of those buildings goes down dramatically.”

The Illinois Fire Chief’s Association has documented its support for the state fire marshals’ effort to require fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes.

Sources: NBC 5 Chicago – Video &  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Arc Flash Regulations Overview


New Regulations, NEC Labeling RequirementArcFlash-OSHA

OSHA is now citing and fining employers for failure to protect employees from the dangers of arc flash. For guidelines on best practices for protecting employees, OSHA refers employers to the 2012 edition of NFPA 70E standard, “Standard For Electrical Safety In the Workplace.”

The NFPA 70E 2012 edition instructs employers to conduct an arc flash analysis to determine the amount of thermal energy that could be generated in an arc flash incident. The information is then used to define a flash protection boundary around the potential source, and to determine the level of arc-rated apparel and other personal protection equipment required when employees cross the boundary while they work on or near exposed live parts.

In addition, the National Electric Code®(known as NFPA 70, which is different than NFPA 70E) added a requirement in 2002 mandating that potential arc flash hazards be labeled to warn of the hazard. The requirement, covered under Article 110.16, was updated and expanded in the 2005 version of the NEC. In the newly updated 2012 edition of NFPA 70E, these requirements from the NEC have been included to streamline industry best-practices. These requirements can now be found under article 130.5 (C) within the 2012 edition of NFPA 70E.

Source: Brady®



June & July Are Peak Months For Grilling Fires & Injuries

Video: Hannah Storm, NFPA team up to offer consumers home fire safety.

May 23, 2013 – As the Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the unofficial start of summer, grillers everywhere are dusting off their spatulas and are eager to let the grilling season commence. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is recommending that grillers be mindful of safety, especially as the peak months for grilling fires, June and July, approach. While gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires than their charcoal counterparts, all grills pose a risk for fires and burns.

Gas grills were involved in an annual average of 7,100 home fires in 2006-2010, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,200 home fires, according to a 2012 NFPA report on cooking fires. More than one-quarter (28 percent) of home structure grill fires started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 28 percent started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6 percent started in the kitchen.

Hannah Storm, ESPN SportsCenter anchor was severely burned in a grill fire. She worked with NFPA to record several videos to share her story and raise awareness for grilling safety in hopes that others will avoid similar incidents. Video PSA (:30) also available. (Above Video)

Grills should be placed well away from the home and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. If there is a fire involving grilling equipment, any fuel for the fire should not be near the home or any other structure.

Grilling season is a great time of year for friends and families to have cookouts and tailgate, but before starting the season, be sure your grill is working properly and review safety tips,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Communications for NFPA. “Leaks or breaks were the leading factors contributing to gas grill fires. It is good practice to check for damage before using it for the first time each year, and better practice to clean and check on the state of the grill regularly.”

Some other grilling safety tips from the NFPA are:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before igniting it.
  • Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
  • If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.

 Charcoal grills

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

For more information, visit www.nfpa.org/grilling

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at 


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