OK SO NOW THAT I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION WITH THESE PICTURES. Please take few minutes to read this article as it could prevent future damage or loss of life.
I was recently going through my phone looking for some pics of a job I did last summer. When all of a sudden, there it was, a burned up tool pouch, a destroyed ladder, a melted cooler and cart.
These items were a result of an installer who was not only careless, but could have cost the lives of 4 four men. While this may come across as pretty dramatic everyone needs to understand the seriousness of not following safety guidelines. This fire was caused by an installer who didn’t follow safety procedures and take the 15 seconds to remove a torch head from the tank. It is one of the most commonly used torches we have in our industry. The smaller ones with the trigger.
So here’s what happened. Our crew and I were leaving for a job at about 5:30 a.m. We loaded the back of a pick-up with all our tools, ladders, cart, 20 lb. propane tank and torch and 3 cases of water. We knew it was going to be hot that day so it’s important to keep everyone hydrated. They closed the cap on the bed and the four of us piled into the truck and headed out. Now with good traffic it takes about 1.5 hours to reach downtown. Somewhere between the time when we left the shop and we entered the parking area, the installer’s torch clicked on. The first thing to catch fire was the tool pouch which in turn caught the plastic cart on fire causing the melting plastic to drip onto the flooring of the truck bed. Meanwhile, everyone is in the cab and totally unaware of what is going on in the back.
When we arrived at the job site we got out and went to unload the truck, the first thing I hear is “Hey! I think there is a fire in the back.” Before I could say don’t open it, he threw the door open. This caused the fire to flare up. I yelled for our fire extinguisher. When I got to the back the fire almost put itself out. What had happened was the bottles of water melted and were putting out the flames. I grabbed a couple more bottles of water and put the fire out. I knew immediately what had happened because the torch was right there in front. When
I asked why procedures were not followed to disconnect the torch, the response was “I forgot.”
By now everyone has calmed down and we begin to see what is good and what is junk. As we come to the end of unloading it all, I reach to pull out the 20 lb. tank of propane. It was so hot I couldn’t touch it. I poured several more bottles of water on it to get it cooled down. It was then that I realized how lucky we were.
I cannot emphasize enough that common sense and safety procedures need to be in place. This could have ended in a much different way. People could have died. All because someone forgot and did not follow the rules. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes at the beginning of a work day to check for these simple but potentially dangerous possibilities.
Have your crews remove these torch heads. Tie down your equipment and graphics. Make sure they understand safety procedures. These few minutes could make a huge difference on how their day could turn out.
Re-posted with permission – Original article written by Steve Reininger in the March 2017 UASG Newsletter.