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Dead Men Tales: Heating's Explosive History

HeatingHelp Administrator Posts: 654
edited January 2021 in THE MAIN WALL

Heating's Explosive History

In the early days of hydronic heating, boilers were exploding left and right. In this episode, Dan Holohan tells how seemingly insignificant mistakes often led to disaster.

Listen and subscribe here.


  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,833
    This sounds like it could be a movie. I can see Bruce Willis on top of tbat boiler now.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,391
    I've no doubt that many regulars here have saved lives by paying attention to the equipment and being vigilant.

    Yours, Larry
  • philsego
    philsego Member Posts: 23
    Halifax authorities were able to send a telegraph signal before all communications were cut off. Based on this signal, and not hearing anything more, Boston authorities immediately organized a relief train, which left that same night. The train arrived on Dec 8, and the relief workers immediately began distributing food and medical supplies, and relieved local medical workers who had been attending the wounded for two days straight without rest. To this very day, the government of Nova Scotia sends a Christmas tree every year to the people of Boston as a gift of appreciation.

    VoyagerErin Holohan Haskell
  • scott w.
    scott w. Member Posts: 209
    Wow! One has no idea of the power of a pressure vessel that goes boom. I am a history buff and had never heard this story of the largest man made blast before the atomic bomb. Those poor folks watching had no idea of what was going to take place. Another great story by Dan. As an aside the largest natural explosion in recorded history was the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in the Sundra Strait August 26, 1883 and lasted till August 27. Thirty six thousand four hundred deaths were attributed to the blast and tsunamis it created which was as high as hundred twenty feet. The sound wave was estimated to have travelled around the world 4 times. The sound was loud enough to break the eardrums of crewmen on ships many miles away. People in Australia and on an outpost on Diego Garcia both more than two thousand miles away heard the blast. It affected the weather in the US and the Uk for several years after that. My great grandmother wrote about a killing frost in August in the 1880's in western Pennsylvania that ruined her fathers wheat crop.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,391
    Hi @scottW , I remember being intrigued by the volcano Thera, which blew up around 1600 BC in the Mediterranean. Seems it was a biggie also. Here's a link: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/greekhistory/santorini-aegean-eruption-far-worse-than-krakatoa-t369.html#:~:text=New findings, they say, show that Thera's upheaval,across the eastern Mediterranean for decades, even centuries.

    I'm rather glad I wasn't there! And I just worry about little things, like water heaters blowing up...

    Yours, Larry
    FDNYRETIRED Member Posts: 25
    So when I was on the job I have been to some scary calls to the14th St. Con Edison steam plant. In what they call alphabet city. Usually related to steam release situations. If you were standing by Belleview Hospital, and there was a serious release. You would think the world was coming to an end. But the most tragic explosion was from a steam pipe back in 1989 in Gramercy Park. I was doing a double tour that day, and headed out getting food. 15 blocks away uptown, and I think on 3rd Ave. When this thing exploded it was like a sonic boom, and then a deafening sound. All you saw was a cloud of white/Grey smoke. Which actually was steam and mud. My partner and I dropped everything and headed towards the plume. On the way the call came in, and the exact location. Not one of us realized what actually was contained in that cloud of steam. All we knew people needed help. I have not thought about that situation until I just read this article.


    Never forget 09-11-01 FDNY/EMS/NYPD/PAPD/PENTAGON and those still dying.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,568
    To make things worse, a terrible blizzard immediately followed the Halifax explosion. 
    Retired and loving it.