The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management recently gave a seminar to more than 50 firefighters regarding the danger of a certain type of big rig – or, rather, the danger of what these certain big rigs carry: ethanol. As Richard Irby reports for Area Wide News, ethanol fires are very dangerous. If a truck accident occurs and causes an ethanol fire, firefighters cannot fight it in the same way as other types of fires.
As one fire chief said regarding an ethanol seminar, “That was one of the most spooky things I ever sat through.” He also said that in the event of a truck wreck and resulting ethanol fire in his county, none of his firefighters would be able to put it out, and that ethanol is being shipped throughout the area.
In a traditional type of fire, like a gas fire in a motor vehicle accident, water can be sprayed on it and cause it to go out. As Irby explains, gasoline separates in water, and eventually enough water can be sprayed on that the fire goes out.
But ethanol is a gasoline additive – and it’s being shipped by trucks and tankers in pure form before it’s added to gasoline. Pure ethanol cannot be so easily extinguished. According to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, firefighters need to use special foam to put it out, and you cannot even tell that it’s burning. There’s no smoke or flame.
Source: Richard Irby, Area Wide News, Ethanol trucks a ‘hidden danger’, February 18, 2011