I am a firefighter as many of you know and recently we had several training classes on car fires, wrecks, extrication issues. The topics ranged from large heavy duty vehicles (tractor trailers, school buses), Hybrid vehicle issues, alternative fuel cars. As such there are MANY issues that we have to deal with on a daily basis when responding to calls involving motor vehicles.
Below I have posted some photos of the CNG presentation I saw. I think you will find the photos extremely eye opening as to the dangers presented when a CNG/Propane/Hydrogen powered vehicle is involved in fire.
Just a quick heads up on terminology:
BLEVE: Boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion.
This involves a pressurized vessel containing a liquid or pressurized gas, when subjected to high heat or fire, can explode VIOLENTLY sending extremely large amounts of fire and heat into the surrounding area. The tank is often broken into several small fragments causing shrapnel to fly about in the surrounding area. If you are anywhere near the vessel when this occurs you have an extremely high probability of serious life treating injuries or death.
A little bit about the call before the pictures. This call happened in seattle, washington and as a result I obviously do not have first hand experience with this call. The group of cars were set of fire by an arsonist. Only one CNG car was involved in this incident.
On to the photos!
This is a view of all the cars involved
Another view from the rear
A view of the left side of the CNG civic. Notice the lack of roof, truck lid, and how the doors are extended completely at their extreme points. This was a result of the explosion, not fire suppression efforts.
Another view of the left side. In this picture you can see how the roof rails are bowed considerably from the force exerted on the car from the explosion. Also you can see clearly how far the front door was forced open.
This is a picture of the rear of the car. The CNG tank was mounted towards the front of the trunk. For an idea of where that would be look at the spare tire, just a bit more forward than that.
Another picture from the rear. Look at the metal bracket thats roughly sitting on top of the spare tire. Notice the U-bend clamps... those are the clamps that held down the CNG tank in the car.
A picture from the right rear
A picture of the right front. Notice the buckling of the hood from the pressure wave of the tank exploding. Its also pretty easy to see how much the roof pillars were blew out.
A view from the front of the car. I think the fact that windshield washer fluid resivor was undamaged so exactly how much blast damage and flash fire there was to the car. The fluid in the container kept it from melting/burning.
A closer view from the front.
A picture of the trunk lid. This was blown approximately 75 feet from the car. That little blue CNG sticker on the back is the only warning that fire fighters have to tell that the car is powered by NCG.
A picture of the roof of the civic. This was blow ~100 feet from the car. The screwdriver is there just for scale.
A part of the rear of the car/bumper assembly.
The actual rear bumper. Its sitting to the left and closer to the camera than the backhoe.
Where the CNG tank landed. ~110-120 feet away.
Another angle of where the tank landed.
A view of the CNG tank fitting. It separated a small amount from the tank when the explosion occured. This is not where the failure of the vessel happend....
A picture of the CNG tank. Notice the delamination of the carbon fiber wrapping around the tank. These tanks are designed almost identical to the SCBA bottles we firefighters wear on our back.
Another view of the extreme delamination due to fire involvement and explosion.
A third view of the tank.
A final fourth view of the tank. The hammer is there for scale.
I think its quite obvious the extreme danger these vehicle types are when involved in fire. It is extremely dangerous to fire fighters as we are the ones that have to put out the fire when we are called to it, and often times it is impossible or very difficult to tell wether or not the car has such a tank in it.
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