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 F2009-31, 2010 Jul; :1-22
In December 2009, a 33 year old male fire fighter died and eight fire fighters, including a lieutenant and a junior fire fighter, were injured in a dumpster explosion at a foundry in Wisconsin. At 1933 hours, dispatch reported a dumpster fire at a foundry in a rural area. Eight minutes later, the initial responding crews and the incident commander (IC) arrived on scene to find a dumpster emitting approximately two-foot high bluish green flames from the open top and having a ten-inch reddish-orange glow in the middle of the dumpster's south side near the bottom. The IC used an attic ladder to examine the contents of the dumpster: aluminum shavings, foundry floor sweepings, and a 55 gallon drum. Approximately 700 gallons of water was put on the fire with no affect. Approximately 100 gallons of foam solution, starting at 1 percent and increased to 3 percent, was then put on the fire, and again there was no noticeable effect. Just over twelve minutes on scene, the contents of the dumpster started sparking then exploded sending shrapnel and barrels into the air. The explosion killed one fire fighter and injured eight other fire fighters, all from the same volunteer department. Contributing Factors: 1. Wet extinguishing agent applied to a combustible metal fire. 2. Lack of hazardous materials awareness training. 3. No documented site pre-plan. 4. Insufficient scene size-up and risk assessment. 5. Inadequate disposal/storage of materials. Key Recommendations: 1. Ensure that high risk sites such as foundries, mills, processing plants, etc. are pre-planned by conducting a walk through by all possible responding fire departments and that the plan is updated annually. 2. Ensure that specialized training is acquired for high risk sites with unique hazards, such as combustible metals. 3. Ensure that standard operating guidelines are developed, implemented and enforced. 4. Ensure a proper scene size-up and risk assessment when responding to high risk occupancies such as foundries, mills, processing plants, etc. 5. Ensure a documented junior fire fighter program that addresses junior fire fighters being outside the hazard zone. Additionally, manufacturing facilities that use combustible metals should: 1. Implement measures such as a limited access disposal site and container labeling to control risks to emergency responders from waste fires. 2. Implement a bulk dry extinguishing agent storage and delivery system for the fire department. 3. Establish a specially trained fire brigade.