|On December 27, 2018, at 1150 hours we received a call to a 10-70 vehicle (vehicle fire – Garbage Truck) at the intersection of Covington Ave and Covington Place. Eng. 2 responded to the call from one of our local restaurants where we trying to get lunch. Unit responded because to the call because we were the closet unit. While enroute our 911 dispatcher advised that this was a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueled unit and they have received several call of a possible explosion in the truck. As we started to get closer to the area it was noted that there was a lot of black smoke so we knew that we had a working fire. As unit turned onto Covington Ave. it was noted that the cab of the truck was fully involved with fire impinging on the CNG tanks that were mounting on the top of the unit between the cab and the hopper. It was noted that the Pressure Relief Valves (PRV) on several of the tanks had opened and was releasing CNG. The released gas ignited and was shooting flames about 20 feet from the left side of the vehicle. The fire had ignited the adjacent trees and shrubby. It was also noted that where the driver stopped was under the local utilities which all Cable TV, Telephone and Power lines feed two apartment complexes and about 50 homes. The fire started to melt the out insulation of the telephone and cable TV where it ran through the trees adjacent involved truck.
Upon arrival the decision was made to pull a charged hose line with a smooth bore nozzle to help cool the CNG tanks and start extinguishing the fire. The hose was pulled and charged and a water supply was established via a fire hydrant which happen to be about 20 feet from where the unit parked. Water was flowed at a safe distance (about 20 to 30 yards give or take). Water was applied to the truck to start cooling and extinguishing the fire. The fire was knocked down fairly quickly and the release of CNG had stopped. Once it was safe to get closer to the truck Eng. 1 personnel used a second charge hose to extinguish all the ground fire and was then was put as a safety line while Eng. 2 personnel continued to the apply water to the garbage truck until completely extinguished.
|Lesson learned from incident:
After sitting back and looking at the events that took place on this call we should have parked out unit a little further back and established the water supply and used the top-mounted deck gun on the engine first instead of pulling hose lines for several reasons. First the CNG was being released and it was unknown that if all PRVs on the CNG tanks had open and were working properly. The unknown as we all known is the scary part of our job. We were unfamiliar with the CNG system on the particular truck and we should have reared on the side of safety because of the unknown. If the CNG tanks had become more compromised and the relief valves failed it could have been a different outcome. So the use of the deck gun could have given us more of that safety factor in distance and the GPMs. We need to remember that if you get tunneled vision on the approach you will miss something that may be very valuable to the safety of you and your crew.
If you cannot learn something from every call that we respond to you are not a good steward of the fire service. We can learn from every incident.