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  • Magnesium issues in a car/truck fire

    I have had a few car fires where a lump of Magnesium has become a pain in the butt. I usually identify it pretty early on but my crews have had a bit of trouble dealing with it. We have tried narrow fog, straight stream, and on the Chief's orders- foam....I'm apprehensive about a foam blanket after the container explosion that killed a FF north of the border. Does anyone know a trick to cooling the darn stuff down without starting a fourth of July show on the floor board?
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

  • #2
    Let it burn


    Lots of water , not a 1 3/4. Something bigger


    Class d extinguishing agent if it can be applied correctly
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZdEH...e_gdata_player

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    • #3
      I've done it with a 1 3/4... It took a while, but I did it... Once. lol

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      • #4
        Probably not possible to adequately flood the burning metal or alloy with enough water while in the vehicle. Refer to "Fireground Tactics" by Emmanuel Fried, PP 157 thru 162. As Chief Fried explains, the cause of the explosions may be steam explosions or Hydrogen explosions, but in either case quantities of molten burning metal are going to be thrown violently into the air. From examples cited concerning the Magnesium Products Inc. 1942 fire in L.A. involving large Magnesium castings, it is possible to extinguish magnesium by flooding the area and raising the water level above the material, thus lifting the hydrogen fire above the casting and cooling the metal below about 900 deg. F. and effectively extinguishing the fire. This was achieved only after a very large number of heavy explosions and subsequently burning the roof off the structure. Pretty interesting reading, now that I have gone back and re-read the section. If you have applied water to the mess, it is probably not possible to use Metal-X for extinguishment, as it needs to be kept dry, shoveled on thickly enough to exclude air from the metal, and allowed to stand for a very long time until the heat has dissapated. Fine Graphite with a flame inhibitor such as a Phosphate (Calgon water softener) might also be effective as a dry extinguishing agent.

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        • #5
          1-3/4" on flush - keep a little distance - be patient.
          ?

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          • #6
            From the fires I've been on, most mag nowadays is in the steering assembly like the shear plate. You should be able to recognize burning mag on the inside of a vehicle because the fire will look much brighter then the rest of the car. Extinguish the rest of the car first and flood the burning mag. Too many people will zone in on the mag and not pay attention to what else is happening. If your in a parking lot surrounded by other cars or a garage, knock down the rest of the fire and protect the exposures, most of the ones on the drivers side. Mag engine fires I've been on have usually burned through the hood before we got there and require a whole lot of water. Again, keep your distance, there is no reason to get hurt for a car fire.
            If your going to cry about doing the job you signed up for do us all a favor and quit, there are plenty of dedicated people standing in line for the best job in the world.

            Lieutenant

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            • #7
              Dirt.

              And why flush on the 1 3/4"?
              Career Firefighter
              Volunteer Captain

              -Professional in Either Role-

              Originally posted by Rescue101
              I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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              • #8
                We've had chunks off the steering plate and some electronics/radio packages in specialty vehicles have given us fits.

                Ok, what I take out of this is-If you use water, expect violent reacts as you try to submerse the item.

                Bury the item

                or, if you have not already soaked it, dry chem or homemade dry chem will work.

                And, distance (Mr Mason's version of best turnout gear in the world is distance) and patience.... Geez, I wish I could get some of that in a bottle.

                I did do some video study and read a couple articles on a golf club factory fire in Los Angeles...Titanium, I think....And I seem to remember a big one down in georgia or alabama a year or two ago..
                A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

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                • #9
                  Under some conditions, water applied to extinguish magnesium fires may be decomposed into its constituent elements, oxygen and hydrogen.

                  Magnesium combines readily with oxygen, and hydrogen is released, adding to the intensity of the fire.

                  CO2 extinguishers are not suitable for extinguishing magnesium fires.

                  Magnesium will burn in an atmosphere of carbon dioxide.

                  Magnesium may also burn in an atmosphere of nitrogen to form magnesium nitride.

                  Common extinguishing methods which depend on water, water solutions, or inert gas are not effective on magnesium fires.

                  Halogen (Halon) extinguishing agents react violently with burning magnesium since the chlorine or other halogen combines with the magnesium.

                  The extinguishing method for magnesium fires depends largely upon the form of the material.

                  Flooding with noble gases like helium or argon will extinguish burning magnesium.

                  Burning chips, shavings, and small parts must be smothered and cooled with a suitable dry extinguishing agent like graphite and dry sodium chloride.

                  If possible, remove surrounding material, leaving the small quantity of magnesium to burn itself out harmlessly.

                  An excess of water applied to fires in solid magnesium may cool the metal below the ignition temperature after some initial intensification, and the fire should go out rapidly.



                  Improper suppression using only a small, finely divided water spray (fog) will only intensify the fire which could result in the decomposition of oxygen and hydrogen.
                  HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL

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                  • #10
                    So...... If you only have water then whats the best way??

                    Maybe back a tanker up and open the dump?
                    Get the first line into operation.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by L-Webb View Post
                      So...... If you only have water then whats the best way??

                      Maybe back a tanker up and open the dump?

                      Doesn't everyone carry 50 pounds of graphite and dry sodium chloride?

                      If the tanker water will submerge the material... yes, you could do that. Or if you can remove the material to a tank or a creek that will submerge it, you can do that.

                      Sometimes a massive dump/flooding may only excite the chain reaction on a large amount of material and then things go boom.

                      Many times all you can do is protect the other exposures with water, and let it burn out.

                      The most important part of this situation is to not allow the oxygen, in the H2O, to bond with the material, thus releasing hydrogen and increasing the intensity of the fire, which in turn can lead to yet another reaction called Posterior-Plication.*












                      Sometimes, doing nothing is doing it right.




















                      (*Butt-pucker).
                      Last edited by PaladinKnight; 10-21-2010, 03:07 AM.
                      HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL

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                      • #12
                        We do have a few deadbeats around we could beat the fire out with.
                        Get the first line into operation.

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                        • #13
                          A combo on flush will produce larger droplets of water - a little less flashing to steam. We are talking about car fires right? Never buried a burning car (so far) Water from a distance has always worked for me , it will make it angry at first, but stay on it , it will cool off.
                          ?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
                            A combo on flush will produce larger droplets of water - a little less flashing to steam. We are talking about car fires right? Never buried a burning car (so far) Water from a distance has always worked for me , it will make it angry at first, but stay on it , it will cool off.
                            What??? You guys don't call in the backhoe?

                            I agree with your tactics sir. The whole point is you must flood it if water is used. Do not fog it. Usually there are not pieces that are considered large, so you should have limited risk of a massive hydrogen release.
                            HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL

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                            • #15
                              In 20 some odd years I have seen a handful, if that many, of auto fires that were not successfully put out with a booster. Yes, even the ones that shoot sparks everywhere when you hit the hot metal.
                              RK
                              cell #901-494-9437

                              Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

                              "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


                              Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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