Dozens of Massachusetts Homes Exploded. A Gas Expert Weighs In. | Corona, CA

by RACHEL GUTMAN

SEP 14, 2018

WCVB / AP

Investigators still don’t know what happened, but there’s one likely explanation.

Late Thursday, dozens of explosions erupted in three towns in northern Massachusetts. As many as 70 fires, explosions, and suspected gas leaks were reported to state police, with at least 39 homes affected in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. One person was killed when a chimney collapsed on his car, and at least 25 more people were reportedly treated for injuries.

In a statement, Columbia Gas said a total of 8,600 customers will be without service until safety teams can ensure that their homes and businesses are leak-free.

A widespread series of explosions like the one in Massachusetts is “really rare,” says Robert Jackson, a professor of energy and environmental science at Stanford University. Jackson’s studies focus on the environmental impacts of natural gas, and he has mapped thousands of gas leaks in cities around the country, including Boston. He told me that such an event is “unprecedented in recent years,” since explosions are usually isolated to a single building.

Jackson is not involved in investigating the Massachusetts explosions, but he was able to offer some insight into what could have caused such a strange, dramatic incident. The most likely explanation, he says, is the one most reports have speculated: Pipelines in the towns became suddenly over-pressurized. In the same way that high-voltage power lines traverse hundreds of miles before breaking off into lower-voltage tributaries in neighborhoods, natural-gas delivery systems consist of both long-distance, high-pressure pipelines and local ones that are only nominally pressurized and deliver gas into homes. Neighborhood pipelines are usually designed to withstand two to three times their normal operating pressure, but any increase makes gas more likely to escape.

“I can’t imagine another explanation for this event than a flush of pressurized gas,” Jackson says.

If local lines indeed were suddenly inundated with high-pressure gas, Jackson says, that could result in an explosion in one of two ways. First, the pipes themselves could explode. Second—and more likely, according to Jackson—excess pressure could have caused gas to leak out of pipes and valves and into homes, where it could be ignited by a pilot light and send whole buildings up in flames.

In most cases, according to Jackson, such rapid pressurization would be caused by a failure at a valve that separates high- and low-pressure pipelines. As for what would lead to such a failure, Jackson says, it could be that “somebody made a mistake. To flip the wrong valve, leave a junction open. Human error is the most common source of natural-gas explosions.”

Columbia Gas’s website announced an improvement campaign just a few hours before the explosions began, though no evidence has yet linked the explosions to pipeline updates or botched repairs. (A spokesperson for Columbia Gas did not respond to a request for comment.)

A flush of gas could also occur if older valves leak or break. In 2015, Jackson and his colleagues found that cities like Cincinnati that replaced their aging pipelines had 90 percent fewer gas leaks a mile than older cities like Boston that relied on older, cast-iron pipes. Across the country, Jackson says, many local pipelines are more than a century old—including in Boston, the closest major city his team studied to Thursday’s explosions.

Even though natural-gas leaks are fairly common, serious consequences aren’t. From 1998 to 2017, 15 people a year, on average, died in incidents related to gas distribution in the U.S. “Significant incidents”—those that do things such as cause an injury or death, result in at least $50,000 of damage, or lead to a fire or explosion—happen about 286 times a year.

That might sound like a lot. But then again, the streets of Boston carry an average of four gas leaks a mile.

 

2017 Class of AFSA Sprinkler Fitter National Honor Society

The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) Fire Sprinkler Fitter National Honor Societyn was established in 2012 to recognize trainees, and their sponsoring employers, who have completed all four levels of the AFSA Correspondence Course for Fire Sprinkler Fitters with a cumulative grade point average of 95% or above. Inductees into the 2017 class represent approximately the top nine percent of the 172 four-level graduates for the year.

AFSA Director of Education Services Leslie Clounts gave her congratulations to the class and the companies that employed them, stating: “Congratulations are due to these accomplished companies whose dedication to training excellence is proven in these elite apprentices. I applaud each individual who made the effort ensuring these National Honor Society students not only succeed but excel in their training endeavors.”

Recognition plaques were provided to the sponsoring employers so that they can present the plaque to their fire sprinkler fitter graduate.

The following companies are the employers of the 2017 Fire Sprinkler Fitter National Honor Society inductees:

  • Aero Automatic Sprinkler, Phoenix, AZ (three inductees)
  • AFPG, Inc., Jackson, TN
  • Allied Fire Protection, Pearland, TX
  • Colby Fire Protection, Rochdale, MA
  • Fire Tech Services, Inc., Chesapeake, VA
  • Front-Line Fire Protection, LLC, North Andover, NH
  • Johnson Controls, South Bend, IN
  • Johnson Controls, Williamsville, NY
  • L&L Fire Protection, Torrington, CT
  • Meridian Fire Protection, Salem, NH
  • Metropolitan Fire Protection, Broomall, PA
  • Phoenix Fire Protection, Idaho Falls, ID (two inductees)
  • Platinum Fire Protection & Services, Marlborough, MA (two inductees)
  • Tri-State Fire Protection, Smithfield, RI
  • Western Automatic Sprinkler, Salt Lake City, UTAFSA

Source: https://sprinklerage.com/honoring-academic-excellence/

How to Protect a Datacenter from Fire | Corona, CA

Do you know what a datacenter is? Datacenters are built specifically to house millions of dollars of expensive electronics and contain custom-built solutions for everything from cooling to power continuity and generation. Due to the 24/7 nature of datacenters, most systems are designed for redundancy and fail-safe operation with cabinets of battery-powered, uninterruptible power supplies reside to complement generators.

But what if there’s a fire? Computers present a unique fire suppression challenge – they’re easily damaged by water, are typically contained in a metal box that will shelter a fire from overhead sprays, and they require significant amounts of electricity that presents an electrocution risk for standard suppression systems. Because of this, typical datacenter suppression systems come with two complementary systems – one wet, and one dry.

Modern alternatives tend to be either inert gas systems (where an inert gas is pumped into the datacenter to smother the fire by depriving it of oxygen) or clean agent systems, where halocarbon molecules are pumped in and absorb heat, extinguishing the fire.

While dry systems are often the first line of defense, due to their ability to extinguish fire without damaging equipment, a second water-based system is typically available. Best practices often dictate that the pipes above the datacenter itself be dry – that is, pipes are not filled with water until a fire is indicated, at which point the pipes are filled. Typical configuration allows the clean agent or inert gas system to attempt to put out the fire long before the heat allows a sprinkler to discharge.

For more information about datacenter fire protection, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona and all surrounding areas.

Home Fire Preparedness Campaign

On average, 7 people, mainly children and the elderly, die every day from a home fire; 36people suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day, and over $7 billion in property damages occur each year.

The Red Cross launched their Home Fire Campaign (http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/prevent-home-fire) in 2014 in an effort to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the US by 25%. Since the campaign launched in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has helped install over one million smoke alarms, in over 500,000 homes, saving over 400 lives.

A critical part of this campaign is Sound the Alarm (https://www.redcross.org/sound-the-alarm), which is a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events across the country. This spring, from April 28th to May 13th, the Red Cross will be installing 100,000 free smoke alarms in over 100 cities across the country as part of this campaign.

The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) joined forces with the Red Cross to support this campaign, with the goal of raising $10,000 to integrate fire sprinklers into their Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.

The AFSA is currently a quarter of the way to their goal and needs more help. Your tax-deductible donation will not only enable the Red Cross to provide critical support to those struck by home fires, but will also help get fire sprinklers included in the educational information shared by the Red Cross.

Make your donation here: https://www.redcross.org/donate/cm/afsa-pub

Get involved with the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign to help save lives across the country.

  • Teach home fire safety. Did you know that if a fire starts in your home, you may have as little as two minutes to escape? During a fire, early warning from a working smoke alarm and a regularly-practiced fire escape plan can save lives.
  • Become a volunteer with the Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer). Whether helping displaced families, providing care and comfort to the ill or injured, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies such as home fires, it’s important that we all do our part.
  • Join the Sound the Alarm campaign. Get involved in events near you by working in teams to install free smoke alarms across the country and spread fire prevention and safety education.
  • Make a donation to the Red Cross. (AFSA donation form: https://www.redcross.org/donate/cm/afsa-pub; Red Cross Home Fire Campaign donation form: https://www.redcross.org/donate/home-fire-campaign)

Sources:

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1102312387686&ca=798359b4-fbf6-40ad-ad0b-2124b6a8d9c1

https://www.redcross.org/sound-the-alarm

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/prevent-home-fire#Get-Involved

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire

Prepare for Anything: Evacuation Edition | Corona, CA

It seems everywhere we look, there is a wildfire threatening some part of California. Not only is it sweeping through forests and other wildlife, but residential areas are becoming affected, leaving many family’s without shelter due to evacuation. Being prepared for evacuation is not only going to make you feel better but will also help keep your family calm during these stressful times. Here is a checklist of things you should keep in mind during these summer dangers:

Inside the House

  • Shut all windows and doors, leaving them unlocked.
  • Remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters.
  • Remove lightweight curtains.
  • Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
  • Shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights.
  • Leave your lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions.
  • Shut off the air conditioning.

Outside

  • Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (patio furniture, children’s toys, door mats, trash cans, etc.) or place them in your pool.
  • Turn off propane tanks and move BBQ away from structures.
  • Connect garden hoses to outside water valves or spigots for use by firefighters. Fill water buckets and place them around the house.
  • Leave exterior lights on so your home is visible to firefighters in the smoke or darkness of night.
  • Put your emergency supply kit in your vehicle.
  • Have a ladder available for firefighters to quickly access your roof.
  • Seal attic and ground vents with pre-cut plywood or commercial seals.

Animals

  • Locate your pets and keep them nearby.
  • Prepare farm animals for transport and think about moving them to a safe location early.

For more information about evacuation tips, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona and all surrounding areas.

The West Is on Fire… Again | Corona, CA

By Umair Irfan 

Updated Jul 27, 2018, 11:36am EDT

Wildfires have almost become a year-round threat in some parts of the western United States. From Colorado to California, it feels like the blazes from last year never went out.

Flames ignited forests and chaparral virtually nonstop in 2017, and the year ended with record infernos in Southern California that burned well into 2018.

Officials don’t refer to “fire seasons anymore but rather to fire years,” Jennifer Jones, a spokesperson for the National Interagency Fire Center, told me in an email.

The NIFC reports that this year, wildfires have burned more than 3.9 million acres, about 11 percent above the average since 2008. At the moment, 13 states are reporting large fires, from Alaska to New Mexico.

On Thursday, the Carr Fire erupted in Redding, California, sending a 100-foot-high “wall of flame” through the town. The fire has already engulfed more than 44,000 acres, skipped over the Sacramento River, and is just 3 percent contained as of Friday morning. The blaze has killed two firefighters and prompted mandatory evacuations for many of the city’s 92,000 residents.

The Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park has meanwhile burned more than 45,000 acres, an area more than 51 times the size of Central Park in Manhattan, since igniting on July 13. More than 3,400 firefighters from as far away as Virginia are fighting the blaze. As of Friday, the fire was only 29 percent contained and had led to the death of one firefighter, Braden Varney.

Further south, in San Bernardino National Forest near Los Angeles, the Cranston Fire ignited Wednesday morning forcing more than 3,000 people to evacuate. Authorities believe an arsonist is behind the 11,500-acre blaze.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared states of emergency for Shasta County, where the Carr Fire is burning, and Riverside County, where the Cranston Fire continues to rage.

Meanwhile, the Substation Fire near Portland, Oregon, has torched 79,000 acres and forced 75 households to evacuate. It’s just one of 160 wildfires across Oregon, though most fires are currently in the southern part of the state. As of Thursday morning, the Substation Fire is 92 percent contained. And in Colorado, wildfires have already ripped through more than 175,000 acres, and the ensuing rains have brought mudslides along the freshly denuded landscape.

And it’s likely to get worse. Many parts of the US are facing a higher than normal fire risk this year.

It’s an alarming echo of last year’s devastating fire season, which charred more than 10 million acres, making it one of the worst years in more than three decades. California suffered its largest wildfire ever, the Thomas Fire, which engulfed an area 1.6 times the size of New York City.

As firefighters take on new blazes and homeowners rebuild in the ashes, here are some things worth knowing and what we can expect for the remainder of the fire season.

Some states are already seeing worse fires than last year, and the risks remain high

A key thing to remember is that wildfires are ordinarily a natural phenomenon. Many parts of the US are primed to burn, and fires are vital to the ecosystem, restoring nutrients to the soil and clearing out decaying brush. Trees like the Jack pine only release their seeds after a fire. Plants like buckthorn need fires to germinate.

But the destruction from the gargantuan blazes we’ve seen in recent years is hardly natural; human activity is clearly making it worse.

For one thing, humans start the vast majority of these fires, upward of 84 percent of them. California officials have blamed a dozen of last year’s fires on Pacific Gas and Electric’s power lines. Utilities were also blamed for fires in Nevada. Arson was suspected for fires in Northern California.

Another factor is how humans use the land. People are increasingly building closer to the wilderness, blurring the line between suburbs and shrubland. That means that when fires do burn, they threaten more lives and property. Meanwhile, active fire suppression in some areas has allowed dry vegetation to accumulate, so when embers ignite, it causes a massive conflagration.

And of course, the climate is changing, mostly due to human activity. Rising average temperatures have led to western forests drying out, increasing the risk of fires. There are 129 million dead trees in California alone. Across the state, the total number of fires is trending downward, but the size of fires is going up.

But in Southern California’s fires, like last year’s Thomas Fire, scientists don’t see a climate signal just yet. The region is hot and dry year-round. Drought can actually kill off the grasses and shrubs that would ordinarily burn. As a result, the fire risks haven’t demonstrated an association with rising temperatures so far. However, modeling shows that by 2050, climate change will increase the size of burned areas in Southern California.

Despite the significant swaths of the country that went up in flames last year, there is still plenty of fuel around, even in areas that ignited last year. “Although [2017] was the second highest number of acres burned since 1960, it is a fraction of the more than 1 billion acres of vegetated landscapes in the U.S., so there is a lot of land left to burn,” said NIFC’s Jones.

In fact, new vegetation has already sprung up. That’s because the winter brought much-needed moisture to the drought-stricken West, despite an unusually warm winter.

Scott McLean, a spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), explained that the precipitation spurred fast-growing grasses and shrubs. The searing, record-setting heat that followed this year dried out plants, leaving many parts of the West coated in tinder.

In California, fires have already burned more land and Cal Fire has initiated 200 more fire responses now than it did at the same point last year.

The NIFC reports that Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and California all face “above normal” fire risks throughout much of their territories, as this map shows:

There are still drought conditions in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona that will likely persist even after seasonal rains, and lightning from the storms threatens to ignite new wildfires. Fire risks are lower in northern Montana and Washington state due to a wet spring.

As with last year, the fire potential will increase in the early fall along coastal Oregon and California as fast-moving seasonal winds pick up.

Even as we get better at fighting wildfires, they’re becoming more costly and dangerous

Firefighters are trying to apply some of the lessons learned from last year’s blazes. Cal Fire says it has managed to contain the vast majority of fires in its jurisdiction to less than 10 acres. But with more development in fire-prone regions, it’s getting harder to balance the demands to protect property against the need for the land to burn.

Fire officials are working with communities to explain why controlled burns are a necessary step to prevent more dangerous fires, but it makes homeowners antsy. “When you put fire on the ground, people get a little concerned,” said Cal Fire’s McLean. “It’s still an education process.”

It would also help to have policies that discourage building in the highest-risk areas. That’s difficult when the population is growing in many parts of the West and some of the cheapest land for new housing is in those regions poised to burn.

So far, this year, it seems that many of the same mistakes that have put people at risk are being repeated. In California, some residents are rebuilding in the same fire zones where homes burned last year, spurred in part by insurance payouts.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said referred to the Substation Fire as being in Southern Oregon. The fire is in the northern part of the state.

For more information about fire season, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona and all surrounding areas.

Stay Safe this Summer with Fire Prevention | Corona, CA

Contrary to popular belief, we are not at high risk for fires in hotels or other public places. But, in fact, our biggest threats are at home, where we typically feel our safest. And since much of our summertime fun involves BBQs and fun with friends and family, it is important to be ready for any type of fire danger, from accidental fires at home to wildfires that pop up without warning. One way to do this is with fire sprinklers. You may not automatically think about fire sprinklers in our homes, but home fires can cause property damage, or far worse – take the lives of our loved ones.

Nearly, 2,500 people lose their lives each year in home fires in the United States. It can be nerve wracking to think about these statistics, however, this should be a reason to consider installing fire sprinklers in your home.

Because Hollywood makes an exaggerated image of everything, including fires, many people seem to think that when a fire occurs, the entire system goes off & soaks the place down. This is false. When one fire sprinkler is triggered, the rest do not activate. Nearly 85 percent of the time only one fire sprinkler activates during a fire, which as mentioned earlier, results in significantly less property damage when compared to a fire hose. And now that homes are burning more quickly than before due to having larger spaces and lightweight construction materials, having a fire suppression system is extremely important.

Summertime is a fun time for getting outside and enjoying the weather. Make sure you have one less worry by having fire sprinklers installed in your home.

For more information about fire extinguishers, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona and all surrounding areas.

Be Prepared for Accidental Fires | Corona, CA

fire extinguisher serviceIt’s vital to have a functional fire extinguisher readily available at all times as it is a very important tool to have to fight fires. If not kept in good working condition, it will most likely be useless when you need it most. Not only is proper fire extinguisher maintenance necessary to reduce the chances of tragedy, but it’s also useful to help keep you mind at peace knowing that you’ve done all you can to keep your family, property and yourself safe. To ensure that your fire extinguisher works in the event of a fire, you should follow these guidelines:

  • Make sure your fire extinguisher is easily accessible.
  • Be sure it is set up properly so it’s easy to handle, with nothing in its way.
  • Check that your fire extinguisher is adequately charged and ready to use in case of fire. Frequently check the pressure dial to see if it needs to be charged.
  • Make sure that the pull pin is properly secured in the handle and held in place by the tamper seal.
  • Inspect the extinguisher for any cracks, dents, or rust on its shaft which may hinder its performance.
  • Make sure that there are visible, legible operating instructions.
  • Be certain that no modifications have been made that may affect its performance.

A properly functioning fire extinguisher can help reduce the disaster and tragedy a small fire can cause in a home, restaurant, or office building. Now that we are smack dab in the midst of summer, prepare for any instance that could arise. No one wants their summer fun spoiled by an accidental fire.

For more information about fire extinguishers, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

Accepting patients from Chino, Ontario, Redlands, Moreno Valley, Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto, Fontana and all surrounding areas.

Trump Tower Fire in NYC

The Trump Tower fire in New York City on April 7th left 67-year-old ToddBrassner dead and six firefighters injured. The apartment where the fire broke out did not have sprinklers or a smoke alarm. On April 16th, the New York Fire Department confirmed that the cause of the fire was an accident caused by “electrical-sequenced power strips containing multiple components.”

This fire marks the second fire in the building this year. On January 8th, two civilians and one firefighter suffered injuries from a fire on the top of the building. Mr. Trump’s son, Eric Trump, stated that the January fire had been sparked by an electrical issue in a cooling tower.

The skyscraper opened in 1984 without sprinklers on its residential floors. This measure has been required in new buildings since 1999, when New York City because the last big city in the United States to require sprinklers. Mr. Trump, a private citizen and property developer at the time, had lobbied to try and prevent the mandate. The 1999 bill requiring sprinklers was spurred on by two fires in 1998, one of which occurred in an apartment block with no sprinklers, and the other of which occurred when hallway sprinklers failed.

Survivors of the fires had wanted all buildings to have sprinklers, but the legislation that was passed was not retroactive. This meant that the legislation passed stated that any buildings constructed before that time were only required to have sprinklers if they underwent gut renovations, essentially only requiring that new buildings install sprinklers.

After the legislation passed, Mr. Trump recanted his previous position, stating that he understood that sprinklers would make residents feel safer. As a result of the new bill, Mr. Trump’s new 72-story Trump World Tower, built between 1999 and 2001, incurred $3 million in costs for the installation of sprinklers. However, Mr. Trump, along with many other existing property owners, did not retrofit their existing buildings with sprinkler systems.

Neither Mr. Trump nor any of his family were in the building at the time of the fire. FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro has stated that there is extra fire protection at Trump Tower when Mr. Trump is present.

 

Sources:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-tower-fire-second-2018-blaze-in-sprinkler-free-residence/

https://ny.curbed.com/2018/4/17/17246426/trump-tower-fire-nyc-cause-april-2018

 

Why You Need Back Flow Testing | Corona, CA

Fire prevention is key to ensuring the safety of your property and loved ones. We protect ourselves by equipping our property with plenty of fire prevention tools. But with all of the fire alarms and sprinkler systems, we often fail to think about a very important aspect to our preventative measures – back flow prevention.

Back flow testing is incredibly important, not only in the world of fire, but in the aide of our water supply. Back flow preventers are installed in order to keep your pressurized fire sprinkler water line from flowing back into the municipal water line. This is possible if whenever there is a loss of pressure from the municipal line. Back flow preventers eliminated the possibility of polluting the water system through cross contamination.

In water supply systems, water is normally maintained at a significant pressure to enable water to flow from the tap, shower etc. When pressure fails or is reduced, as may happen if a water main bursts, pipes freeze or there is unexpectedly high demand on the water system, then such reduced pressure in the pipe may allow contaminated water from the ground, from storage or from other sources to be drawn up into the system.

Once you have installed an approved back flow preventer, it is important that it is tested out. This can only be done by a licensed backflow tester. Once tested and approved, you’re good to go!

CJ Suppression offers back flow testing, call today if you to schedule an appointment or if you have any questions!

For more information about back flow testing, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

Accepting patients from Chino, Ontario, Redlands, Moreno Valley, Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto, Fontana and all surrounding areas.