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Propane tank explosion results in the death of two volunteer fire fighters, hospitalization of six other volunteer fire fighters and deputy sheriff - Iowa.
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 98-F14, 1998 Sep; :1-6
On April 9, 1998, 20 fire fighters from a volunteer fire department responded to a propane tank fire located at a turkey farm about 2.5 miles from the fire department. Upon arrival at the fire scene a decision was made to water down the buildings adjacent to the propane tank and allow the tank to burn itself out since the tank was venting. Some of the fire fighters positioned themselves between the burning propane tank and the turkey sheds and were watering down the buildings as the remaining fire fighters performed other tasks, e.g., pulling hose and operating pumps. About 8 minutes after the fire fighters arrived on scene, the tank exploded. When the tank exploded it separated into four parts and traveled in four different directions. Two fire fighters about 105 feet from the tank were struck by one piece of the exploding tank and killed instantly. Six other fire fighters and a deputy sheriff, who had arrived on scene just before the explosion, were also injured. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to prevent similar incidents, fire departments should: follow guidelines as outlined in published literature and guidebooks for controlling fire involving tanks containing propane adhere to emergency response procedures contained in 29 CFR 1910.120(q) - Emergency response to hazardous substance release procedures educate fire fighters to the many dangers associated with a propane tank explosion, which is also known as a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE). Additionally, owners and users of propane tanks should: protect aboveground external piping against physical damage via fencing or some other means of protection equip propane tank piping with excess-flow valves and/or emergency shutoff valves, where applicable.
Firemen; Explosions; Accident-prevention; Accident-analysis; Explosion-protection; Region-7
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
NTIS Accession No.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division