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Firefighters Pump Jet Fuel On Fire Instead Of Water, By Mistake

Facepalm

How in the world does something like this happen:

The Washington State Patrol is investigating a serious mishap that occurred Oct. 25th at its fire training academy in North Bend.

During a training exercise, firefighters mistakenly pumped jet fuel instead of water onto a flaming mock-up of an airplane crash.

KING 5 obtained video that shows an enormous fireball erupted when the fuel hit the flames at the training site.

“When the firefighters put water on a fire that had been deliberately developed for training the fire got bigger instead of smaller,” said Bob Calkins of the State Patrol, which is investigating the incident.

Well, yes, that’s what tends to happen when you pour jet fuel onto a burning fire.

As for how this might have happened:

Calkins said investigators believe that the academy’s oil/water separator – which recycles the water used for fire training exercises – did not correctly filter the jet fuel used for the exercise from the reclaimed water.

So crews filled their tanks with water tainted with jet fuel — a combustible combination.

Unlike chocolate and Peanut Butter, these are not two great things that work great together.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tillman says:

    Wait, wait, hold on, why the hell was there a nozzle for jet fuel there in the first place?!

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  2. Franklin says:

    Calkins said investigators believe that the academy’s oil/water separator – which recycles the water used for fire training exercises – did not correctly filter the jet fuel used for the exercise from the reclaimed water.

    Interesting. Unfortunately the recycling effort went awry in a major way.

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  3. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Tillman: That had me confused, too, and I re-read it carefully. The place re-uses water, and runs it through a filtering process. A bunch of jet fuel from the simulated crash got mixed in with the water and was NOT filtered out, so the re-used water had a very high percentage of boom juice.

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  4. grumpy realist says:

    That last paragraph makes no sense whatsoever. Notwithstanding whatever the filter did, how did water and jet fuel get mixed together in the first place?!

    And if you say:”well, they put water into a tank that used to use jet fuel”, who was the bozo who failed to make certain that the tank was fully cleaned?

    I’m interested, however–it would seem to me that the jet fuel must have been a sizable percentage of whatever was dumped onto the flames. I can’t imagine water with trace amounts would have acted that way.

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  5. BIll says:

    International Chess Grandmaster Edmar Mednis writing about Bobby Fischer using the Ragozin variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined(QGD) which is a cross between the Nimzo-Indian and QGD. It is like taking too excellent recipes and combining them. What did Mednis say you get when that happens? Indigestion.

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  6. Franklin says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Notwithstanding whatever the filter did, how did water and jet fuel get mixed together in the first place?!

    I presumed, perhaps incorrectly, that they got mixed together during previous exercises (they douse burning jet fuel with water, putting out the fire, which leaves some unburnt fuel).

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  7. grumpy realist says:

    @Franklin: Isn’t that only if they slurp up the jet fuel/water again?

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  8. Franklin says:

    Yes. That quote specifically says, “recycles the water used for fire training exercises”, so I’m assuming they slurp it up for the purpose of recycling.

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