Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

DC: Boeing Dreamliner Electrical Fire Problems

January 23, 2013 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, DC:  While Boeing maintains that an electrical fire in an electronics compartment of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner last week and another electrical fire on a test flight in 2010 are not related, the plane’s fire-suppression system does not protect the site where both fires occurred.

The incidents have some aviation experts questioning assurances by company officials, the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that the plane is safe.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating last week’s fire, and the FAA is reviewing the plane’s electrical system and the inspection process that led to the plane’s certification in 2011. The Dreamliner relies on its electrical components more than any similar aircraft, and much of that system is supplied by UTC Aerospace.

The Charlotte, N.C., company also furnishes the plane’s fire detection and suppression system, which uses Halon 1301 gas to extinguish fires in cargo compartments, but not the one that contains key electrical systems.

A spokesman for UTC Aerospace directed questions about the plane’s design to Boeing.

Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter said that fire-suppression systems are not typical in electronics compartments.

“That’s not unique to the 787,” she said. “It’s true of all Boeing airplanes.”

Though production of Halon 1301 has been banned for most uses for nearly two decades because it depletes ozone, it still is commonly used in fire-suppression systems on aircraft. Barry Chase, a fire protection engineer at the National Fire Prevention Association in Quincy, Mass., said that another common use in the past was to protect computer rooms.

“It’s not electrically conductive,” he said. “It was used that way for a very long time.”

Last week’s fire in Boston took 40 minutes to extinguish and damaged a lithium-ion battery that powers the plane’s auxiliary power unit, according to the NTSB. The plane was empty at the time, but one firefighter suffered minor injuries.

The 2010 fire occurred in mid-air and damaged one of the plane’s primary electrical-distribution panels. Backup systems allowed the crew to safely make an emergency landing in Laredo, Texas, and evacuate the 42 people on board. The problem was traced to a metal shaving that caused a short-circuit in the electrical panel, and Gunter said changes were made to the plane’s software to cut power quickly in case of a short.

Boeing grounded its test fleet after the fire, adding to delays that had plagued the program from its inception.

Lithium-ion batteries have caught fire in cellphones, laptops and electric cars. The FAA earlier pushed airlines to take special precautions with bulk shipments of such batteries in cargo holds.

Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general at the Department of Transportation, said the FAA might have overlooked the presence of the battery in the electronics compartment when it certified the aircraft.

“Without the fire suppression, and the use of the lithium battery, I imagine that this is one of the areas the FAA will look at,” she said. “They should have done it before.”

Schiavo was at the Transportation Department during the certification process for another large Boeing jet, the 777. She said that the company’s inspectors, rather than the FAA’s, performed about 95 percent of the certification of the plane.

“That’s how it works throughout the industry,” she said. “People are surprised, but that’s how it works.”

Going on the experience of the 777, Schiavo said that any design or manufacturing errors will appear in the first 18 months to two years of the aircraft’s service. The FAA review is coming right in the middle of that period.

“They will learn an awful lot, and it will be very important to track it,” she said.

Story via

WA: Electrical Fire Kills Man

October 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Seattle, WA: A pinched electrical cord sparked an electrical fire early Sunday that left one man dead in a North Seattle apartment early Sunday, investigators said. A second man suffered from smoke inhalation in the blaze.

Crews were called to the scene, a two-story apartment building in the 10500 block of Greenwood Avenue North, about 3:30 a.m., said Kyle Moore of the Seattle Fire Department.  When firefighters arrived, they found heavy black smoke pouring from the bottom floor unit of the building. Witnesses told crews that one man was believed to be still inside, and as firefighters entered the unit they found smoke and flames rolling through the apartment, which was piled shoulder-high with combustible  materials.

About 10 feet from the door, crews found a man dead on the floor. He was pulled from the unit, and firefighters continued to battle the blaze.  Another man in the unit above was also treated for smoke inhalation.

It took crews about half-an-hour to completely extinguish the flames, Moore said.  An investigation later found that the blaze was accidental, triggered by a pinched electrical cord in the unit.

Story via

Ferrellgas Fined for High Voltage Electrical Accident in WA

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

AUBURN, WASHINGTON – An Auburn propane company where two men were electrocuted earlier this year has been cited and fined by the state Department of Labor and Industries. According to the Nov. 12 citation, Ferrellgas failed to foresee the danger posed from a high-voltage power line over its property and failed to properly train employees on how to avoid it, the Labor and Industries investigation found.

Specifically, Ferrellgas did not ensure that employees maintained a minimum distance of 10 feet between high-voltage lines and any equipment they were using. Nor did it seek to deactivate the 7,200-volt power line or insulate, the investigation found.

The company was fined $8,400, according to the citation.

Mark Olson, 41, of Auburn, and Scott Pigg, 25, of University Place, Pierce County, were electrocuted May 26 when the tip of the boom truck they were using to move propane tanks around the company yard touched an overhead power line.

Olson had joined the company in January 2006 and worked as a field-installation specialist, setting up propane tanks for customers. Pigg, a material handler, had been working for Ferrellgas since July 2007.

The two men had been involved in the company’s annual inventory in the gas-tank storage yard when the fatal accident occurred, according to Labor and Industries spokesman Hector Castro.

Representatives of Ferrellgas could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

However, Castro said members of the company were “extremely traumatized” by the accident and already had taken measures to eliminate the chance of similar accidents by the time the citation was issued.

“It was very traumatic to them, and they got rid of the crane and moved all the propane tanks away from the power lines,” Castro said. “They just hadn’t realized the hazard the power line posed.”

Story Via Seattle Times

Two Ferralgas Workers Killed in Electrical Accident when Boom Touches Power Line

AUBURN, WASHINGTON – The Department of Labor and Industries said Thursday that it is investigating the deaths of two men who perished Wednesday when the boom truck they were operating apparently made contact with a live power line in south Auburn.

 The men worked for the propane distribution company Ferrellgas, located at 3611 A St. S., in Auburn. Ferrellgas corporate spokesman Scott Brockelmeyer identified the men Thursday as Mark Olson, 40 of Auburn, and Scott Pigg, 25 of University Place. Olson had worked for the company since since January 2006 and Pigg since July 2007.

“We’re devastated,” said Brockelmeyer. “It’s about as sobering a situation as you can imagine.”

According to Auburn police, Olson and Pigg were moving propane tanks for Ferrellgas at about 5:08 p.m. when their boom touched nearby power lines, igniting a fire in the truck and injuring the men operating the boom. The men, who sustained injuries consistent with electrical and fire burns, were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Several nearby tanks were charred during the fire, but firefighters from the Valley Regional Fire Authority quickly arrived on the scene, soaking a series of large propane tanks with water. Crews blocked off A Street for several blocks north and south of the location. No one else was injured.

L&I inspectors arrived at the propane store within a few hours of the incident and began their investigation.

“We’re at the start of the investigation, so there’s not a lot of information we have at this point,” said Hector Castro, a spokesman for L&I. “It could be some time before we complete our investigation. We have up to six months.”

L&I, which investigates all work-related fatalities to determine the causes leading up to the incidents, said in a press release that these are the 35th and 36th workplace deaths in Washington state this year. Between 1998 and 2010, 22 workers came too close to power lines and were electrocuted.

A spokesman for Puget Sound Energy said the power line belonged to Burlington Northern Railroad. A BNSF spokesman declined to confirm that information or to say how much power was actually flowing through the lines at the time.

“Just say BNSF is looking into this claim further,” said BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas

Story Via Seattle PI