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Harsh Reminder

JellisJellis Member Posts: 202
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  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,142
    Very sad.
    Little before and after.

    steve
  • IronmanIronman Member Posts: 5,632
    edited September 2019
    Sad.

    We had a station/convenience store blow up a couple months ago near us. It killed four people.

    A close friend of ours was delivering produce there and he told the owner he needed to do something right away. The owner said he had called the propane company. Ten minutes later, the place was leveled. My friend got out, but not the owner and his family.

    It turns out, the propane driver over-filled the tanks and they started dumping gas.
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • JakeCKJakeCK Member Posts: 138
    Someone f'ed up big time.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,819
    JakeCK said:

    Someone f'ed up big time.

    And whoever it was needs to be held accountable.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
    luketheplumber
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,315
    Same for natural gas, all fuels can be extremely dangerous.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,178
    I’ve found a half dozen leaking unions or fittings just while doing AC repairs unrelated to the furnace burner system. I fortunately have a pretty good built in sniffer.

    Wonder how this occurred. I thought standard procedure was to shut off all fuel sources, ventilate, then go back in with a detector, then pinpoint the leak. Wonder if for safety, it would be safer in these situation to use nitrogen with a little 410a refrigerant in it to find the leak instead?

    2 guesses on this tragedy. 1) drywaller put nail through a propane line on this new addition they just opened. 2) new heating equipment or gas lines weren’t properly leak checked after propane service was connected. Probably a fitting in a “vented” attic or worse in a wall (not allowed to be there). 3) they used CSST or counter strike type product and kinked it causing a pinhole leak somewhere in a wall.

    Will be interesting to see what comes out of hte investigation.
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    Apparently the on-site investigation is done, more investigating to happen off-site.

    https://bangordailynews.com/2019/09/20/news/mid-maine/family-requests-private-funeral-for-farmington-fire-capt-michael-bell/
    "State and federal investigators are continuing to probe the cause of Monday’s explosion, which happened after firefighters responded to the building on Farmington Falls Road for a propane leak.
    "The state fire marshal’s office on Friday said it plans to continue investigating next week and that the on-scene portion of the investigation finished Thursday. Investigators have turned the property over to its owners and their insurance company, according to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland.
    "The investigation, including additional interviews and analysis of items gathered from the scene, will continue next week off-site, according to McCausland."

    (Re-quoting because that newspaper's website is limited geographical accessibility, and the info is minor.)
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    edited September 2019
    400 gallons (3/4 ton!) of propane delivered on Friday, tank empty on Monday. (That was probably supposed to be a month supply in February; demand in September would be much less than 1/10th. So like 150X the gas that should have been consumed.)

    "Investigators located the leak in a propane line buried under LEAP’s paved parking lot..."
    "...investigators believe the propane permeated the soil under the parking lot in addition to leaking into the basement."

    https://bangordailynews.com/2019/09/27/news/mid-maine/tank-had-leaked-400-gallons-of-propane-before-farmington-explosion-investigators-say/

    Sand/gravel permeated with 400 gallons of propane might explain the unusual damage. Speculating: there was no proper leak-test before that tank was filled. Scary; because I have 300 gal of propane 10 feet from where I sit, and we had a leak last month, on plumbing that was carefully set 7 years ago. (Not carefully enough maybe.)
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 1,978
    Yes, I heard the same thing. But it was not released yet and not confirmed that was accurate info at the time.

    I wonder if it was poly pipe in the ground. And how long it was there. Scary stuff for sure! If the underground pipe had been in a conduit (sealed at one end and open at the tank end) it seems as though the leak would have been detected and not saturated the ground.

    Just thinking aloud here.

    A stark reminder that our work can be deadly for us or others.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • JellisJellis Member Posts: 202
    I hope they release more info about this, how deep was the underground pipe? when was the last pressure test? What was the buried pipe material? Were new appliances recently installed?
    This is a very important lesson for Our gas installers.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,916
    One wonders if the LP line entered thru the basement wall without breaking ground?
    Here we come up above grade at the building and then enter.
    If concrete is poured around the riser then a sleeve must be around the pipe for escaping gas. Works for NG but maybe not for heavier LP.
  • JellisJellis Member Posts: 202
    Its the same common practice here, enter above ground whenever possible. Entering below ground is permit-table but must be sleeved for protection and sealed against gas or water entering.
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 1,978
    Up in northern Maine, our accepted frost line is 6 feet deep (although it can go deeper under plowed areas) so any penetration must be at least 6 feet deep. I've never seen any LP line not rise above ground at the building with a 13" WC or low PSI region at te building.

    Not sure about Farmington though. I really want to learn from this as well, so we all can avoid something like this in the future.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Member Posts: 3,357
    Oil heats best.
    SuperTechSolid_Fuel_Man
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    > how long it was there.

    LEAP had *just* finished a major expansion. Look at the "before/after" pictures. The Before is actually before much work was done. It shows two small structures and much lawn/weeds, and no tank. If you look at other pictures, they demolished the sheds, dug a foundation, built a building, paved the whole corner of the lot, and put a tank at the back of the lot into the trees. This seems to have been done since Spring.

    In my ignorant opinion, everything new, and this may have been the first load of Propane.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 4,142
    HVACNUT said:

    Oil heats best.

    Add to that...
    Oil wipes up, gas blows up.
    And
    Go gas, go boom!
    steve
    SuperTech
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,055
    edited October 2019
    with fuel problems with oil you remodel, with gas you rebuild.

    Sad, this is the reason I hate anything for gas except black pipe and copper.

    To me, Gas Tight ain't worth the risk

    No reason for loss of life. Oil and gas have to be respected. Codes should not be watered down.
    B_Sloane
  • retiredguyretiredguy Member Posts: 221
    Years ago, when the gas companies started using plastic pipe the pipe was colored orange. A few years later, the color changed to yellow like what they use today. I asked the guys from the gas companies I dealt with, why the color change. I was told that the orange plastic pipe had some kind of a defect and that all of it was being removed and replaced with the yellow pipe. The company I worked for would never use plastic pipe and always used schedule 40 black pipe. I do not know if the orange pipe was actually defective, but that was what I was told
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 1,978
    I have some information that the tank(s) were filled on Monday, then AGAIN on Friday. It was the following Monday when the boom happened.

    A leak check should have been performed that Friday. It wasn't. The tank was just refilled. There were no leaks found inside the building.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    > I have some information that the tank(s) were filled on Monday, then AGAIN on Friday. It was the following Monday when the boom happened.

    If so (citation?), that should have been a Huge Red Flag.

    IMHO, that tank is marginal for 30 days of building-heat around February, so the needle should not have moved in a week in September. And the gas supplier should have raised questions before putting in 100s of gallons of propane a second time. (There could be miscommunication: Abe tops the tank, next week Bob goes out not knowing Abe was there already, and thinks there was just the token fill of a new tank....)

    It's a real news item here. Saturday's memorial for the fallen firefighter drew a large crowd. Not quite a scandal, until all the facts come in. But I bet the investigators have this as top priority, and if something could be done better the word will go around. Even informal 'suggestions' will be obeyed by both gasmen and firefighters who don't want to see anything like this again.
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 1,978
    That information is from a large competing propane supply manager, as well as a manager of a large HVAC company in Maine. So it may or may not be reliable. He is trained in what to do in these type of situations.

    Two separate conversations on different days, so I felt it at least noteworthy.

    Both questioned why anyone would go into a building full of propane, the power company should have turned off the power at the pole, as far and high as possible form the building.

    I hope it all comes out, so we all can learn from this terrible tragedy.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 1,978
    I've had to deal with many scared people, especially in commercial kitchens with propane. So there is much talk about leak checks and overall safety. Not a bad thing, just a lot of talk here in Maine.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    The Maine legislature will consider a bill requiring gas detectors in 'certain buildings'.

    On one hand, I'm all for this, in all indoor gas use. OTOH, until gas detectors become as common as smoke detectors, the price is a problem for residential users.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,055
    Are you talking about CO detectors or natural gas/propane detectors?
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    "A bill that would require natural gas and propane leak detectors in certain buildings following last month’s fatal explosion in Farmington will be on the Legislature’s agenda when it reconvenes this winter."
    https://bangordailynews.com/2019/10/23/politics/lawmakers-will-consider-propane-safety-measure-after-farmington-explosion/
    No further details.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,055
    Their was a story a few years back about a Massachusetts Plumber, licensed, insured, had been an inspector as well I think, a little town in north central Mass. forgot the name. he was a great guy and very experenced and well liked.

    Was venting propane in a house basement from a boiler and the water heater pilot lit it off and caused an explosion. House lifted off it's foundation and he passed away. Very sad.

    You can NEVER let you guard down or get too cocky in this business Dosen't matte how long you have been doing this or how smart you think you are.
    Solid_Fuel_ManSuperTech
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    edited November 2019
    The family of deceased Capt. Bell has hired an attorney to investigate the incident.

    We now have more details of parties involved and pending investigations. Newspaper article

    They will wait for the state fire marshal final report, some months away. This may wait on investigations from OSHA, and the state department of labor. The names of the propane supplier and the plumbing & heating contractor are mentioned. Also Techno Metal Post, makers of foundation posts.

    That last bit is new news. I wonder if all DigSafe requirements were met, to mark underground lines before dropping a shovel or a post-driller. While my town has "no" underground lines (shallow rock), utilities respond to DigSafe notices here. You'd think a non-utility line would have to have similar markings?

    Also the National Institute for Occupational Safety, a research and recommendation agency, is investigating.

    The attorney hired does Personal Injury work, so claims for damages seem likely (probably inevitable).
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    "Local businesses donate new gas meters to Maine fire departments"
    "Madison Fire Department received three Gas Alert Quattro meters. Two of them were donated by Backyard Farms, valued at a little over $1,000. The other meter was purchased by Bob Shipley of Bob’s Cash Fuel.
    Shipley said ...“We got the idea from Waterville’s fire department and were concerned that many stations in central Maine were not equipped with these.”
    Solid_Fuel_ManJellis
  • JellisJellis Member Posts: 202
    PRR said:

    "Local businesses donate new gas meters to Maine fire departments"
    "Madison Fire Department received three Gas Alert Quattro meters. Two of them were donated by Backyard Farms, valued at a little over $1,000. The other meter was purchased by Bob Shipley of Bob’s Cash Fuel.
    Shipley said ...“We got the idea from Waterville’s fire department and were concerned that many stations in central Maine were not equipped with these.”

    Bobs cash fuel donated 10 at $1000 each the article says! Big donation for a small local company! I think i'll start buying my fuel from Bobs because of this.
    B_Sloane
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    edited July 9
    We seem to know what happened. The assignment of blame is likely to go on and on.
    Tank installed away from building, line run underground. Ground then paved for parking lot. Bollard posts drilled-in to protect air conditioning equipment, apparently hit underground line. Propane company re-filled empty "near empty" tank.
    Maine Fire Marshal confirms Farmington blast was caused by bollard severing gas linehole
    Larry Lord is still in the hospital. Capt. Bell is of course still dead. I think everybody else got home and to light duties.
    I was interested to see the claim that a propane tech is supposed to know "why" the tank is low before filling. I guess my guy knows how much I typically use and if I'm close to his estimate he assumes I burned it. But this was a new installation, no history, eating 400 gallons in a weekend.
    There is also some DigSafe question. Apparently propane lines were not in the DigSafe law. OTOH a guy with a power dirt-drill standing in a field with a 1000 gallon fuel tank ought to ask where the line runs (and not take anybody's word for it-- I keep finding my underground electric in odd places).
    kcoppSolid_Fuel_ManCanucker
  • JellisJellis Member Posts: 202
    @PRR "I was interested to see the claim that a propane tech is supposed to know "why" the tank is low before filling"


    when i was installing propane tanks we had to record how many BTU's each appliance used and what type of appliance it was and record them to the customers file. A computer program then calculated expected usage and recommended a date for auto refill, it even compensated for temperature with heating appliances.
    if a delivery was scheduled before the "recommended auto refill date" a alert would come up on the computer prompting dispatch to send a technician and do a leak check BEFORE the drive would fill the tank.
    This was all required by our insurance company.






    Solid_Fuel_ManSuperTech
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    Larry Lord, maintenance worker for the LEAP building, was transferred from hospital to rehabilitation the other day.

    Can you imagine? 162 days in a top-notch hospital for burns and bone breaks? And not steady healing, his condition was up and down at least once.

    Captain Bell was killed on the spot. Six other fire fighters spent long terms in hospital but released.


    Bangor Daily News 2020/02/25
  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    OSHA fines LEAP and Techno Metal Post for ‘serious’ safety violations
    'The fine against LEAP, in the amount of $12,145, is for violations of health and safety regulations. Specifically, LEAP “failed to ensure that a competent person inspected the job site......
    'The fine against Techno Metal Post, in the amount of $4,038, was issued for the same violation.'
    Lewiston Sun Journal 12 March 2020
  • JellisJellis Member Posts: 202
    Latest update, propane tech disciplined for not completing a leak test.

    I'm rather blown away at the lightness of the punishment.
    $1,300 Fine and loss of trade license for 15 days.
    Thoughts?

    https://www.wabi.tv/content/news/Propane-technician-disciplined-in-connection-with-fatal-Farmington-explosion-571461421.html
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • ratioratio Member Posts: 2,440
    He's not likely to make that mistake again.
    EdTheHeaterManCanuckerluketheplumber
  • EdTheHeaterManEdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 572
    @Jellis
    Is that the best phrase for this post?

    @PRR
    Thanks for Go-Fund-Me link

  • PRRPRR Member Posts: 39
    edited June 30
    The $1300 seems similar to such administrative fines in Texas and Wisconsin.

    This is not the end of the story. In fact more "facts" seem to be coming out, not verified. Was the tank actually empty (forcing a re-test) or just so low the water heater wouldn't heat? There's no suggestion of malice or gross recklessness. There does seem to be plenty of carelessness to go around. There are real and emotional costs to the family, and the organizations. In this litigious society we can expect a law-suit and more evidence presented. Questions asked of the driver, the fuel company, LEAP, TechnoPost, and the surviving firemen. To apportion monetary damages; but also for the Court and the Fuel Board to figure out how good men doing their jobs resulted in a disaster.

    http://www.dailybulldog.com/db/features/technician-who-filled-propane-tank-prior-to-leap-explosion-fined-suspended/
    (Read comments; do not trust all you read.)

    I do think the $1300 makes a great headline and reminds ALL involved of the dangers of gas fuel. I'm sure all the gasmen are now leak-testing like someone's life depended on it.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,055
    Stories like this make me wish CSST was never invented not that this was an issue there as far as I know.

    Gas and oil are both dangerous under the right conditions fatal. So is electricity.

    But because these thing are in common use they get taken for granted
    luketheplumber
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 13,819
    Jellis said:

    Latest update, propane tech disciplined for not completing a leak test.

    I'm rather blown away at the lightness of the punishment.
    $1,300 Fine and loss of trade license for 15 days.
    Thoughts?

    https://www.wabi.tv/content/news/Propane-technician-disciplined-in-connection-with-fatal-Farmington-explosion-571461421.html

    Way too lenient IMHO.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
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