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Stern Oil Fire – Case Study F-500 Encapsulator Agent vs. Mil-spec Foam

F-500 Encapsulator Agent Extinguished the Fire After Foam Was Applied Unsuccessfully for 4 Hours

In October, 2006, firefighters were called to extinguish a fire at the Stern Oil page1image3016Company in Council Bluffs, Iowa. When they arrived, flames were coming out of the windows and roof. They began an interior attack. A number of explosions occurred and the floor was very slippery, so the firefighters withdrew.

The Stern Oil warehouse had 21 tanks containing motor oil, cleaning solvents and hydraulic fluids. In total, there were about 125,000 to 150,000 gallons of flammable liquids. Most of the tanks were still intact.

Sixty-five firefighters from twelve fire departments were called to the scene and eventually airport crash trucks from nearby Bellevue, Omaha Airport and Offutt Air Force Base arrived to assist. The three crash trucks all carried top quality, mil-spec foam.

page1image26472The initial explosion occurred at 4:30 a.m. with firefighters arriving a short time later. By 9:00 a.m., the fire was an inferno extending 100 feet in the air. The local fire departments and crash trucks exhausted all of their foam and were just trying to keep the fire from spreading.

The president of Entire Recycling in Rockport, MO, Jim Gerking, heard about the fire on the radio and called the fire chief at Lewis Township Fire Department. He told the chief he had a product called “F-500 that forms a micelle around hydrocarbons and also cools rapidly.” Chief Blackburn replied, “Bring it.” Jim arrived at 9:00 a.m. with 96 five-gallon pails of F-500 Encapsulator Agent. Jim had learned about F-500 EA after a tire fire in Nebraska City, NE in 2002, where F-500 EA saved the day.

At 9:30 a.m. the three crash trucks applied 3% F-500 EA from three directions in a technique called “surround and drown.” The fire was under control by 11:30 a.m., thanks to F-500 EA.

Conclusion

Pails of F-500 Encapsulator Agent at the scene
Pails of F-500 Encapsulator Agent at the scene

Time and again, F-500 Encapsulator Agent is called in when everything else has failed. If F-500 EA extinguished this fire when it was fully involved it could have easily extinguished this fire when firefighters first arrived. Rapid cooling would have quickly curtailed the explosions and as a bonus, encapsulation would have made the floor non-slippery.

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