Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Battle of the Fire Tank - An exercise in Antarctic Hilarity, dates approximate

Day 1 - techs drain the 10,000 gal fire tank that covers the dorm and prepare to enter, inspect, scrape, and repain the inside (routine maintenance done every few years). Safety and firehouse are notified of the confined space entry as usual.
Day 2 - As operations begin, safety and firehouse decide this is all unsafe and call a halt. No sprinkler coverage of dorms. Planning.

Week 2 - JHAs submitted and reviewed. Management meetings. Firehouse discussions at meetings.

Week 3 - Confined space Awareness class given by Safety for all relevent parties. JHAs. Meetings.

Week 4 - Fall protection class given for all relevent parties. Meetings. Tank is entered several times to evaluate hazards. Still no sprinkler protection for dorms.

Week 5 - Training exercise extricating a live victim planned.

Week 6 - Training exercise extricating a live victim planned. Meetings.

Week 7 - Training exercise extricating a live victim planned. Rope system rigged. Meetings.

Week 8 - Training exercise extricating dummy performed. Rope system completely rerun and anchors reset so system is pullable. Temporary anchor extending out through a roof hatch becomes necessary. Rope system reaches workable state. JHAs, Meetings.

Week 9 - Workers are told they can finally go in and repaint the tank. They bring their equipment (ventilation, respirators, ..) to the pumphouse.

*** Work is stopped because someone mentions that there could be lead paint residue in the tank. Job cancelled and tank is refilled.

*** Shortly afterwards a frozen fitting bursts and 10,000 gallons of water are pumped out onto the transition, washing out the sewage plant road. No way to shut off pump until tank is dry. Water here is produced through an expensive heating-reverse osmosis process. No fire protection for dorms.

*** A few weeks later the same thing happens and another 10,000 gal are lost. No fire protection for dorms. E1 is run for 2 weeks with only 200 gals in the tank by the end of shift due to leaking packing. Most station hydrants OOS off and on due to heat trace plumbing work.

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