We recently had a tractor trailer fire. Here is my question: After an hour of battling the blaze the truck driver admits that the trailer is full of auto parts and other stuff, and by the way, a 55 gallon barrel of phosphoric acid. By the time the Hazmat team arrived the levels were not high enough to raise any concern. If command was notified immediatly of the contents in the trailer would the levels initially been a concern? What would you do?
The fact that it was a tractor trailer fire should preclude any real concern for a 55 gallon drum of acid. You should treat all fires as if there is potentially hazardous materials present. In this type of call my min concern would be run-off of the water used to extinguish it. Where is it running to and is it a problem. The acid would just be another potential issue to deal with whether known before or after.
This would be an IC screw-up, contents should be of the utmost concern, unless the truck driver lied about the contents. We have had several of these and are usually asking dispatch to confirm contents in-route. With whats being hauled over the road today, you just don't know and can not take a chance, this is common to haul small amounts of hazardous materials so proper placarding does not apply.
First off before we start throwing blame around, and it is pretty easy to do on FFN without all the facts, how does anyone not know that command didn't ask what he was hauling in the first place.
The way the thread is written I would assume the driver was asked but didn't devulge the information. Many questions here, like was the unit placarded? You could also call the shipping company (most tt units are marked with name and state on the door) if the driver was incapacitated. You have a right to know and they have a right to inform.
Now if the incident commander didn't ask the non-injured driver for his shipping manifest papers, then that would be something to say was missed. Those papers are vitally important to keeping our brothers safe at an incident like this.
From there we could use that information to calculate an IAP that was type specific. I would also like to point out that the US DOT - ERG manual has a guide specifically for unknown products, that would be what I would have used for PPE, isolation distances and run off.
If the question as to what was in the trailer wasn't asked or known BEFORE you started putting water on it, then how did you know that he might not be hauling something that violently reacted to water?
In addition, if run-off is a pollutant and you are near a ditch that runs to a creek, guess who gets socked with a bill for EPA clean up?
Can you say "the fire department does"?
I knew you could.
Generally, tractor trailers hauling auto parts are hazmat carriers of some type. Batteries that offgas hydrogen and leak acid are one type. Solvents and lubricants that are flammable/combustible and toxic are another.
My general rule is that any box trailer pulled by a tractor that requires an hour or more of "battle" to extinguish is probably better off being purified by fire.
My next question is "What extinguishment media did you use?" Class B foam can be very effective on auto parts fires, especially given the amount of solvents and lubricants typically on board the truck.
most, I've seen, but certainly not all. Funny you mention that, a coworker the other day (I work EMS, 2/3 of us are jolly vollies) showed me a pic of a vehicle fire in his town. The backup on the hand line (which was within 10-15 ft. of the fully involved car) was in sneakers, gym shorts, and a wife beater. Nice.