I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. Tonight, can you please show
up to the shop at 645pm? Representatives from the Burlington Fire
Department will be coming at 7pm to discuss the "gas incident" that
took place a few weeks ago. The message below is a summary of the
incident. I realize it is long, but it reads quick and if you could
please read it before attending tonight's meeting, it will help.
Thank you for your understanding and for showing up tonight.
A BURLINGTON FIRE DEPT (BFD) representative will be here on Monday,
April 27th from 7:00-7:30pm to speak to both Aero and Mini-Baja
student groups regarding a response they provided to an April 4th
Votey incident involving a gasoline and water mixture that was poured
down the sink drain in the Wind Tunnel room.
Location: Wind Tunnel Lab
All Members from both groups are expected to attend.
Below is a short description of the event. BFD would like you to
understand the severity of these actions and help to educate everyone
so that we can prevent this type of incident in the future.
At 7PM, a group of debate students using a classroom on the third
floor of the Votey building called in a strong sulphur or gasoline
odor to UVM Police. UVM Police dispatched Burlington Fire Dept to the
scene. Votey building and Kalkin, due to the basement interconnection,
was evacuated without using the building fire alarm due to concern
about the possibility of an explosive atmosphere in the building.
At 7:55, a text page notified secondary emergency responders at UVM
about this situation and Francis Churchill, ES Compliance Manager, was
called for assistance. Francis called Ralph Stuart to respond since
Ralph lives closer to town and is able to arrive more quickly.
Ralph arrived about 8:15. BFD had set up a command post and was
exploring Votey to find the source of the odor. (FIVE (5) Fire Dept
trucks responded. BFD discovered odors in 2 locations in the basement
and their instruments showed 15% LEL (lower explosive limit) in the
building's sump in the basement. Just after Ralph arrived, BFD
discovered that a sink in 122 Votey (wind tunnel sink) had a similar
odor and reading in its drain.
The laboratory supervisor, Floyd Vilmont responded to the scene. Floyd
discovered that the gasoline tank was missing from the Aero/Mini-Baja
club workroom. The best supposition was that someone associated with
one of these clubs had disposed of petroleum product down the drain.
This sink appears to drain into the building's storm drainage system
rather than the sanitary sewer, so the product accumulated in the
building's sump, from whence it was captured and distributed by the
building's ventilation system.
BFD ran the sump manually to further disperse the odors. Ralph and BFD
inspected the rest of the building for odors, which had effectively
dissipated. The scene was closed at about 9:30 PM. (See Incident
Follow-Up on reverse side)
The Mini Baja student says he removed the small Mini-Baja vehicle tank
from the Baja vehicle because he did not want to take it all the way
to Centennial Field to store it in the Baja trailer. He also did not
think he was allowed to leave the tank on the Mini-Baja vehicle
itself, in the lab, with gasoline in it.
He said he saw an empty waste container, that at one time held
?glycol? waste but he was not sure this waste gas could be collected
in this same container. Instead, he put the Baja gas tank in the sink
in the wind tunnel room, turned on the water to dilute the gas with
water. He says there was approx 1 liter of gasoline left in the small
tank. As he walked away to grab a roll of paper towels from across the
room, the solution began overflowing out of the gas tank in the sink,
releasing this mixture directly to the storm water drain.
Lee Diamond, lab safety coordinator for Votey, spoke with Dan Harvey
and John Marcus, UVM Fire Marshal, about this incident, suggesting
that the Fire Dept send someone over to discuss the severity of this
incident with Aero and Mini-Baja groups.
Floyd has asked for the contact names and phone numbers of all of the
primary group members in charge of AERO and Mini-Baja to be placed on
the first page of the Lab Safety Notebook.
Floyd and Dan would like to see a log created for whomever uses the
room off hours.
Dan Harvey e-mailed to say he will be making some new requirements for
Baja and AERO members. He says safety training will soon become a
requirement for all Baja and AERO club members. Floyd will also
immediately be ramping up some other protocol, including an
after-hours sign in sheet and buddy system.
Michael C. Murray
University of Vermont
College of Engineering
Email: [log in to unmask]
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UVM SAE Mini Baja 2008-2009
nothin' mini about it