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Halon Dump Kills Bank Employee

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  • Halon Dump Kills Bank Employee

    A 35 year female bank employee was accidently locked in a basement records room in a New York City bank. Thinking the easiest way to get out would be to pull the fire alarm and have the FDNY resucer her, she pulled the alarm level. However, it was not the alarm the the Halon system activation level she pulled. The Halon was dispensed eating up all the oxygen and the employee dies of oxygen starvation.

  • #2
    Does anyone have an offsite link to this story?


    • #3
      I found the story, but I don't think that the New York Daily News keeps their archives that long. They ran the story on Saturday July 29th. It was CO2 that was released and not Halon. Here is a brief explanation of that from one of our Ex-Captains.


      Halon systems work by breaking the chain reaction of fire rather than by
      displacing O2. The concentration of halon required is usually around 5 to 12%
      and would not bring the level of O2 below a level adequate to sustain life.
      It should also be noted that halon 1301 and its modern replacement gases are
      the only total flooding systems permitted to be used in areas normally
      occupied. Given the stringent enforcement within NYC and the fact that the
      vault is not normally occupied, I think that it is a safe assumption that the
      vault was protected by CO2 rather than halon. CO2 works by displacing O2 and
      will in fact, kill anyone left in the space. With all the signs, bells and
      whistles that are required for either of these systems I have to wonder how
      this mental genius got a job in a bank in the first place.

      Thanks for the clarification Ted.

      Here is the story that ran:

      From: News and Views | City Beat |
      Saturday, July 29, 2000

      Tragedy in Bank's Vault
      Colleagues grieve for
      employee who suffocated

      Daily News Staff Writers

      olleagues of a Brooklyn woman killed in a freak accident in a Manhattan bank vault remembered her yesterday as loving and thoughtful.

      "If she was able to help you, she was there," a colleague said of Esther Penn, an administrator at Depositors Trust Clearing Corp.

      Another colleague said Penn was always organizing birthday parties. "She was always a big part of the celebrations," he said. The workers declined to be identified.

      Penn, 35, became trapped in a basement vault Thursday night and died after she pulled a fire alarm rigged to remove oxygen from the room, police said.

      She died of cardiac arrest on arrival at New York Downtown Hospital, shortly after firefighters found her, unconscious, in the vault at the company's offices at 55 Water St., officials said.

      Penn, the married mother of two teenagers, had worked for two years as a securities administrator for the bank, a clearinghouse for financial documents.

      She was working overtime and counting securities inside the vault when she became locked in, police and employees said.

      Co-workers apparently did not realize Penn was in the huge vault, which fills the basement, when they locked it for the night, said Sgt. Elias Nikas, a police spokesman.

      Penn called her boss from a phone inside the safe, leaving a voice mail message asking for help, a police source said.

      When no help arrived, she pulled the fire alarm eight minutes later, at 7:40 p.m., apparently unaware that the alarm would release carbon dioxide into the vault to extinguish a fire, the source said.

      Police do not know why she didn't call 911.

      "The [carbon dioxide] will remove oxygen from the room very rapidly," Nikas said.

      Penn was found at 9:11 p.m. and taken to the hospital, but it was too late. A bank spokesman said the company was cooperating with the police.

      Yesterday, Penn's grief-stricken colleagues were having a difficult time going back to work.

      "We're very devastated," a co-worker said. "It's a tragedy. We can't fathom how this can happen. We're all very confused."

      I think this woman should get nominated for a Darwin award due to the fact that she had a phone and called her boss, but didn't call 911

      [This message has been edited by iwood51 (edited August 01, 2000).]


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