NFPA Journal - September/October 2012 - (Page 96)

>> LOOKING BACK a gas leak, followed by an explosion and fire, resulted in $1.5 million in damage to the Woburn Nursing Center and injured 21 civilians and two firefighters. Explosion, Fire & Success A 20-year look at the Woburn Nursing Center fire the dazed plumber walking down the street, according to an artiIt’s not often you can call a $1.5 million fire a success story, but cle in the Boston Herald. “He was in shock and didn’t know where the explosion and fire at the Woburn Nursing Center in Woburn, he was and had second- and third-degree burns,” Doherty said. Massachusetts, was just that. Doherty ordered a fourth alarm at 4:12 p.m., and the fire was On October 31, 1992, the facility housed 101 residents. extinguished at 5:15 p.m. That afternoon, a plumber charged a natural gas branch line Despite the violence of the explosion, and the ensuing fire, he had been working on, unaware that another plumber who no one died that day—21 civilians and two firefighters were had installed the line earlier had left an opening in a tee fitinjured—and NFPA’s Isner says four factors contributed to the ting unplugged. When the gas pressure failed to stabilize, the successful outcome. The facility had a functioning sprinkler man went looking for a leak in the system. Meanwhile, the gas system that operated as designed; the administration had devel“flowed freely for 15 to 20 minutes,” until 300 to 500 cubic feet (8.5 to 14 cubic meters) of it filled the building, according to NFPA Fire Investigator Michael Isner, who reported on the incident. Nursing home staffers smelled The gas exploded at around 3:45 p.m., blowing the gas and alerted maintenance personnel, who part of the three-story building’s roof into a nearby searched for the source, and began opening windows. cemetery and starting a fire in the area of the blast. The gas exploded at around 3:45 p.m., blowing part of the three-story building’s roof into a nearby oped programs and procedures for staff emergency response; cemetery and starting a fire in the area of the blast. The staff the staff followed those procedures immediately; and the fire reacted immediately, and began closing resident room doors and department responded quickly. Everything worked as it should evacuating patients from rooms nearest the fire, with the help and, as Chief Doherty said later, “everyone worked together.” of neighbors and construction workers. Twenty-one sprinklers operated, confining the blaze mostly to the area of the explosion. “It only took us seven or eight minutes to get everyone out,” he noted. “The EMTs, nursing home staff, police, and firemen The fire department received an automatic alarm at 4:07 were fantastic.” p.m., and responding firefighters soon called in a second and third alarm. Fire Chief Robert Doherty also arrived, and found —Kathleen Robinson 96 NFPA JOURNAL SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2012 Photographs: NFPA

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - September/October 2012

NFPA Journal - September/October 2012
First Word
Mail Call
In a Flash
Heads Up
Structural Ops
In Compliance
Electrical Safety
Wildfire Watch
Lessons of Comayagua
After Waldo Canyon
Catastrophic Multiple-Death Fires in 2011
Fire Loss in the United States in 2011
Section Spotlight
Research + Analysis
What’s Hot
Looking Back

NFPA Journal - September/October 2012