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Oxygen Cylinder Catches Fire


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A mate of mine just flagged this up, looks like WMAS attended a job and put a patient onto oxygen and the cylinder ended up catching fire and then caught the house on fire.

Now in the NHS especially for community staff safety around cylinders is stressed upon so sure it is within the Ambulance.  Horrible situation to end up with but be an interesting one to see what if anything comes from it.

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Its an unusual one - assuming the newspaper have the facts right. Was this defective equipment (sparks??) or a leaking cylinder ignited by a local source?

The clue MIGHT be the suggestion that the paramedics were unable to rescue the victim, or maybe were forced to leave and then come back for her, which implies a very rapid development. I know one person on this site who will know all about it, but of course, will not be able to say anything on here.

Lets hope that with the amount of O2 therapy ongoing in the UK at present, if there are lessons learned, they are published as soon as possible for others to learn from this tragic death. The thought of this happening within a large open space ward in a Nightingale unit doesn't bear thinking about 

In addition to family and friends of the deceased, I can't help thinking about the poor ambulance crew. That must of been a hellish situation to be involved in :(

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mail online, well that says it all. there is no way an ambulance oxygen bottle of the type used for mobile oxygen therapy in the UK can produce a spark or spontaneously combust. All connecting parts and interactive parts are plastic and there is no power supply. I’d bet my house on the ignition source being present before smouldering cigarette or accidentally introduced during the administration of high flow oxygen, couple that with for example the patient is using a parafin based emollient cream and you have the recipe for the start of a regrettably fatal fire which would escalate extremely quickly as described. just my opinion obviously.

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I know its the Mail, I don't read it, in fact had to turn the ad blocker off to read the article.  One for an interesting discussion.

There is lots of unknowns and I know certain individuals cannot say anything.  Are  jobs of this common but obviously not as serious, certainly don't see reports of things like this very often.  I will be watching things at work and see if anything is published and what comes of it.

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Lets just hope that the legal complexities related to this awful job do not delay publishing the findings so others can learn.

Many years ago I was on a FI team and was often very frustrated by the time taken between discovery of a significant issue and being able to sing from the rooftops about it. The Inquest, the police investigation and all sort of insurance legal issues all got in the way. I often felt we needed to be a be braver and go sooner with interim advice on the 'supposed' cause, but the anxious LFB legal team would have non of it.

Back then, the Fire investigation Teams in the LFB were part of the Fire Safety Dept, and surely the longer team goal of FI is to make the community safer? It was probably the most enlightening and fascinating job I ever did in the Brigade, I felt that back then on Sub Officer's pay, I felt the renumeration for the role was insufficient for the responsibility, stress, workload and hours so I moved on. 

This particular job sounds particularly challenging.  If possible @Noddy, can you post any findings here as and when they are made public? Thanks

By the way @BurtMacklin, after that tip off from Noddy, I am happy to take up that bet with you :)

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And yes of course messy 👍

You also make a good point that often rears its head.  I’ve been a full time FI for 9 years this summer and have been to 67 fatal fires and over 350 fires in that time.  This includes numerous suicides accidents and murders.  I’ve been to court as the crowns expert over 25 times arguing with barristers being passed notes from forensic scientists trying to discredit me.  Is watch manager wages enough? No but then again I don’t do it for the dollars 😉

Anyway i digress.... back to O2 cylinders. 

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@Messyshaw i’ll speak to the ex wife and let her know I lost it in a conversation on a forum and that she needs to pack her bags pronto. 

@Noddy I’m also eager to understand the mechanism of the accident. Not least because I’m regularly over seeing crews administering medical oxygen in people’s homes as well as more dynamic environments. 

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  • 6 months later...

We've had some training come out as a result of this, apparently it was caused by a phenomenon called Adiabatic compression...in as simple terms as you can get them a gas stored at high pressure uncontrollably released into a confined environment causes the gas to rapidly increase in temperature  which can be enough to ignite internal combustibles like seals and washers. 

Standard practice now is to make sure the flow rate is turned to zero before opening the cylinder valve slowly. 

Hopefully it'll prevent another rare but tragic accident again. 

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