Interesting calls - November 2012

Fire at a recycling plant                                   

NCEC recently received a call from a fire and rescue service station commander who was dealing with a fire at a recycling plant. The plant dealt with recycled car parts and the materials involved in the fire were described as rubber, metal and contaminants.

Our Emergency Responder advised the caller that there was a potential for chemicals to be included in the contaminants such as antifreeze, power steering oils and lubricants. From the waste code provided by the caller, the Emergency Responder advised that the products in the fire were likely to be hazardous and suggested that crews used breathing apparatus. The Emergency Responder also provided advice on the hazards of the substances present in the waste and methods of decontamination.

Immediate access to specialist knowledge means that hazards can be quickly identified allowing the incident to be resolved thoroughly and efficiently.

Air-raid precautions kit from World War 2

NCEC recently received a call from a hazardous materials and environmental protection officer (HMEPO) regarding an incident where a member of the public had come across a small case containing labelled tubes in a warehouse. The tubes were labelled Mustard Gas, B.B.C., Phosgene and Lewisite. One of the tubes had an unsecured cap and the person that had discovered the tube had subsequently gone to hospital.

Our Emergency Responder had received a similar call earlier this year and advised the caller that from the description given, the item was likely to be a kit originating from World War 2. These kits would have been issued to air raid precautions (ARP) personnel or HM Forces to help them identify the gases should a release occur. The Emergency Responder provided advice on the hazards associated with each of the substances and risks presented to medical staff treating the casualty. The Emergency Responder also advised on decontaminating the casualty and the personal protective equipment required for the fire and rescue crews to enter the site. After the incident had been resolved, the Health Protection Agency confirmed that the item involved was an ARP stimulant test kit, as the Emergency Responder had suspected.

Immediate access to qualified chemists ensures that the most appropriate actions and suitable precautions are taken. Our Emergency Responders draw on their academic knowledge, industrial experience and specialist training at NCEC, as well as knowledge from previous incidents, to help protect people, property and the environment.

Explosion in a beer storage area

NCEC recently received a call from a fire officer who was attending an incident where an explosion had occurred in an above-ground beer storage area. The doors of the storage area on both sides had been blown off and a corner part of the wall had been blown out. The area contained a number of carbon dioxide cylinders. One of the cylinders was embedded in rubble and was venting gas. There did not appear to have been any fire or ignition-type explosion in the storage area and the fire officer wanted to ascertain the cause of the explosion.

Our Emergency Responder suggested possible causes of the explosion and explained that if no flammable vapours were present in the area then the likely cause was the rupture of a gas cylinder. After a further search of the storage area, the fire officer found a gas cylinder that had ruptured. The Emergency Responder provided information regarding the legislation for gas cylinders and the potential reason for the cylinder rupture.

Immediate access to expert advice means that incidents can be resolved quickly without compromising safety.