Responding to Ethanol Incidents

by mobrian on September 25, 2008

Its 5am and a 10,000 gallon tanker of ethanol is off loading at the local gas station.  Suddenly a spark due to friction ignites the transfer hose creating a leak on the ground which is now on fire and impinging on the remaining 9,000 gallons.  What do you do?  Will your foam work?  Do you have enough Foam?

The United States Fire Administration and the International Fire Chief’s have developed course materials that can be utilized in your own community to educate first responders on the dangers associated with E85 fuel.

Ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels are in use in growing quantities in the United States, and volumes have become substantial. Consumers in the United States use more than 140 billion gallons of gasoline per year. Today, there are more than 8 billion gallons of fuel ethanol produced in the United States.

The addition of ethanol to gasoline presents some unique firefighting challenges. Traditional methods of fire fighting against hydrocarbon (gasoline) fires have been found to be ineffective against these polar solvent-type (ethanol-blended) fuels.

While gasoline will tend to float on top of water, ethanol fuels are water soluble and will tend to blend with the water. For this reason, the use of Alcohol-Resistant (AR) foam as a means of extinguishing an ethanol fire is recommended.

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