Carbon Dioxide

CO2 incidents
according to fire extinguishing systems

in Aug 2008
Dr. Jürgen Langenberg CTIF-Hazardous Materials Committee Commanding officer / Head of Department Fire Prevention at Münster Fire Brigade

Langenberg 04/2009

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Carbon Dioxide: Physics
Heavier than air (density of 1.5 times of fresh air)
Settles to the bottom with highest concentrations at the lowest areas (without circulation) Commonly stored in bottles under pressure (liquefied at 20 °C / 57 bar or at < -53 °C / 20 bar) Oxygen displacing and toxic gas

Used e.g. in automatically fire extinguishing systems
Langenberg 04/2009

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unconcsiousness. and stagnant. death Langenberg 5. coma resulting in permanent brain damage.000 to 5. convulsions Absence. Poor concentration.000 ppm (> 4 % in volume) 04/2009 3 .000 ppm 2. sleepiness.000 ppm > 40. loss of attention. stuffy air.000 to 2.Carbon Dioxide: Physiological Effects Concentration 250 to 350 ppm 350 to 1.000 ppm Symptoms Normal background concentration in outdoor ambient air Concentrations typical of occupied indoor spaces with good air exchange 1.000 ppm Complaints of poor air Headaches. Increased heart and breathing rate Workplace exposure limit (as 8-hour TWA) in most jurisdictions Serious oxygen deprivation.

000 ppm Symptoms Normal background concentration in outdoor ambient air Concentrations typical of occupied indoor spaces with good air exchange 1. loss of attention.000 ppm > 40. Poor concentration.000 ppm 2. stuffy air.000 to 2.000 ppm Complaints of poor air Headaches. coma resulting in permanent brain damage. and stagnant.000 to 5. sleepiness. death Langenberg 5. Increased heart and breathing rate Workplace exposure limit (as 8-hour TWA) in most jurisdictions Serious oxygen deprivation. unconcsiousness.Carbon Dioxide: Physiological Effects Concentration 250 to 350 ppm 350 to 1.000 ppm (> 4 % in volume) 04/2009 4 . convulsions Absence.

sleepiness. convulsions Absence.000 ppm Complaints of poor air Headaches. Increased heart and breathing rate Workplace exposure limit (as 8-hour TWA) in most jurisdictions Serious oxygen deprivation.000 to 2.000 to 5.000 ppm > 40. Poor concentration. stuffy air. and stagnant. coma resulting in permanent brain damage.000 ppm 2.Carbon Dioxide: Physiological Effects Concentration 250 to 350 ppm 350 to 1. loss of attention. death Langenberg 5.000 ppm (> 4 % in volume) 04/2009 5 . unconcsiousness.000 ppm Symptoms Normal background concentration in outdoor ambient air Concentrations typical of occupied indoor spaces with good air exchange 1.

Carbon Dioxide Incident in Wuppertal. Langenberg area. 21 Aug 2008 PPG Industries Coating Company Wuppertal. 20 t CO2 in fire extinguishing system. 04/2009 6 Depot within a residental . Germany Building 35: Coatings storage depot.

First investigation: Release of 15 t CO2 from extinguishing system -> Closing all doors (This did NOT work automatically at all doors) -> Turning off the main CO2 valve -> Investigating the inner building: NO fire -> Measuring: First results show 1.Carbon Dioxide Incident in Wuppertal.5 % -> Later information: Cause was a control system repair.5 to > 6 % CO2 at the doors.32 h Automatic fire detection system -> Alarm for 2 first attendances and HazMat vehicles 8.04/2009 Langenberg 7 .37 h Arrival 1st fire engine. 21 Aug 2008 Operation Minutes 8. in the environment < 0.

Germany Building 35: Coatings storage depot 20 t CO2 in fire extinguishing system 04/2009 area 8 Depot in centre of Langenberg a residental .Carbon Dioxide Incident in Wuppertal. 21 Aug 2008 Slope PPG Industries Coating Company Wuppertal.

. 2) Controlled CO2 removal from inside the depot: .opening of suitable doors.6 pressure ventilators lower CO2 by mixing it with fresh air .continuous CO2-screening around the depot Langenberg 04/2009 9 .Carbon Dioxide Incident in Wuppertal. 21 Aug 2008 Further Tasks 1) Closing of roads and a railway station (due to slope). Warning of adjacent residents: „Keep your windows closed“.

towards resident houses… Langenberg 04/2009 10 .Carbon Dioxide Incident in Wuppertal. 21 Aug 2008 … what the fire fighters on scene did not know (but saw on TV later on): Resident video shows the release phase with great amounts of CO2 flowing over the yard.

Employees closed it before fire service arrived.Carbon Dioxide Incident in Wuppertal. but after CO2-release through the gate.. Langenberg 04/2009 11 .. 21 Aug 2008 … A plastic curtain prevented closing of a gate.

Carbon Dioxide Incident in Wuppertal. 21 Aug 2008 This pictures led to further tasks in a very late phase .Further measurements in resident buildings. cellers . -> No indication of enlarged CO2-concentration or affected persons!! Good luck: No injured person on scene ! Langenberg 04/2009 12 .Control of all adjoining buildings for casualties.

16 Aug 2008 Langenberg 04/2009 13 .Carbon Dioxide Incident in Mönchengladbach.

Inverted atmospheric conditions.Carbon Dioxide Incident in Mönchengladbach. 16 Aug 2008 Location and weather .People: difficulties in breathing. near houses . convulsions . no wind On scene impressions .motor biker Langenberg 04/2009 14 . unconsciuos.At the bottom of a vallye. 13 transported to hospitals.Coating storage depot . 1prolonged stay:surgical injury.Birds fell from the sky Injured persons 107 totally.CO2-fire extinction system release .Cars stopped due to oxygen lack .

Some did not close automatically / opened by pressure . Possible reasons: . to environment: .Automatic CO2-supply after concentration decay Langenberg 04/2009 15 .Carbon Dioxide Incident in Mönchengladbach.2nd triggering of automatic fire extinguishing system . wooden chips Automatic CO2-release in 1 extinction area (34 t. 16 Aug 2008 Incident minutes Fire of a pallet with coatings. 2000 m²) Doors to neighbouring extinction area.Possible: Others were opened by fire fighters 2nd release (rest of total 50 t CO2!).

120 Police staffs on scene Langenberg 04/2009 16 .Carbon Dioxide Incident in Mönchengladbach. 16 Aug 2008 Fire service tasks Rescuing / Paramedic support Evacuation (150 houses) Warning of residents: „Close windows. stay at upper floors“ Fire fighting Measuring 360 Fire men and members of relieve organizations.

Carbon Dioxide Incident in Mönchengladbach. 16 Aug 2008 But: How to get off the CO2 ?? -> Helicopters of the federal police dilute the gas: Langenberg 04/2009 17 .

78 °C due to JouleThomson-Effect Danger: Massive CO2 lack due to 1 open door („flows like water“). Langenberg 04/2009 18 . 1800 m3. Germany.Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishing Systems: Additional Hazards Release Test at BASF Coatings AG. 2 t CO2 Danger: . Münster. Storage depot.

CO2. Operation Start Keep distance without breathing apparatus.20%O2 10%CO2 ! Langenberg 04/2009 Aereas seeming to be clear may have been flooded before! 19 . look after persons and fire ! 2. Danger to first forces! Do not enter extinction area at first ! Control all doors to extinction area and close them ! Check for injured persons outside extinction area ! Enter extinction area. Area Control Use CO2-measurement devices ! Danger of O2-measuring: 19...Releases from Extinguishing Systems: Lessons learnt 1.

Fire Prevention / Applied for building permissions are: a) Guidelines of the property insurance industry (germany) e.CO2.Releases from Extinguishing Systems: Lessons learnt 3. requirement of CO2-shelter for on-scene fire alarm centre."VdS 2093: Guidelines for CO2 Fire Extinguishing Systems" plus b) additional requirements pursuant to Northrhine-Westfalian Fire Services e.g.g. requirement of automatical fire service alarm Langenberg 04/2009 20 .

nrw.g.kohlhammer. VdS 2093) www.de/ download/Brandschutzartikel/PDF/heft/inhvz01_09.de/download/praesentationen/20081104_co2_loeschanlagen.de/brandschutz-zeitschrift.vds.pdf b) Operations www.Thank you for listening ! Further information: a) Fire Prevention / Building Permissions www.idf.pdf Langenberg 04/2009 21 .de (e.