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Old 08-25-2004, 06:21 PM   #1
prangled prop
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Gas engines and fire hazard

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I was at the Leamington fly-in a couple of weeks ago and they required that anyone who was flying gas powered engines had to have a fire extinguisher close at hand. This got me wondering just how much of a hazard gas engines are. In 40 plus years of being around all types of gas powered engines from the small ones in model a/c and weed wipers to lawn mowers to generators and pumps, I have never seen or heard of a fire caused by a gas engine (except maybe when some dough head did a hot fillup). I have an the other hand experience, years ago, a control line aircraft that started to spit out ignited glow fuel in flight and actually start a small fire in dried grass under its flight path.

There has to be thousands of gas a/c engines started every year yet there does not seem to be any stories floating about.

What do you think
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Old 08-25-2004, 07:04 PM   #2
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I've never seen a engine start a gas fire but have seen lots of people start gas fires while refueling.

Fire extinguishers at the field.........why not.

Mike Sebastien
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Old 08-25-2004, 07:41 PM   #3
Gary Maker
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We have three or four fire extinguisher stations at our club field in case of emergencies. They are checked on a regular basis to assure that they are in top notch shape if needed. I have only been there for one year now and have never even seen one taken from the station other than to move them to flight line for an event and then as far as I know, one has never had to be used.

We do have a number of gas engines and a couple of turbines now at the club and I personally feel that its a good idea to have fire extinguishers available any time gasoline or kerosene is being fueled into planes.

With gas powered engines and turbines being used more and more, perhaps this is the time, if not already being done, to start a program of education and safety on the use of these substanses.
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Old 08-25-2004, 07:57 PM   #4
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There was a pic in this months MAAC mag of a plane up in flames that used a gas engine and had something horribly go wrong.

Best to be safe than sorry.
Adam Woodhouse
MAAC# 27503
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Old 08-25-2004, 08:05 PM   #5
Ed Smith

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...............(except maybe when some dough head did a hot fillup)..............
That is exactly why we have fire extingiushers, for the Dough Heads!!

Ed S
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Old 08-25-2004, 08:30 PM   #6
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I carry a small "kitchen type" fire extinguisher in my regular flight box, with me each time I go flying gas or glow models.

I feel carrying a 2 lb mini that costs $25 or so is a small price to pay for the possibility, however slim, that I may lose a model to fire.

I have had a gasoline model engine blow (quite literally) flames out the exhaust on a wet backfire, and on two occasions had a glow engine (.29 size racing engine) backfire and set my test bench on fire! if it was in a model.... there you go.

The chance of a fire is not as unlikely as we may think. Like house fires, it seems as likely as winning the lottery. It happens only to the OTHER guy....

My point is, it is too easy to carry a small extinguisher not to.

And, anyone flying any turbine powered craft remember a fire extiguisher is NOT an option, its a requirement.
Andrew Coholic -MAAC #26287L

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if its got a wing or two and an engine - I like it!
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Old 08-25-2004, 09:20 PM   #7
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Having a fire extingusher handy when handling any
type of fuel just makes good sense.

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Old 08-25-2004, 09:28 PM   #8
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I agree Steve same as having a good first aid kit with lots and lots of bandaids and steri strips.

Dennis Pratt
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Old 08-26-2004, 07:51 AM   #9
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There was a pic in this months MAAC mag of a plane up in flames that used a gas engine and had something horribly go wrong
Yes but what went wrong, the picture tells nothing, I have seen the resulting fire from a shorted Nicad batter pack (not in an A/C but a commercial usage). Pictures do not tell the whole story.

Basicaly I do not think gas is any more dangerous than glow so to require an extinguisher for one and not the other seems peculiar.

Again, Has anyone experienced a gas fire with R/C A/C?
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Old 08-26-2004, 08:04 AM   #10
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Not gas, but glow .... see MAAC's web page which relates an incident from the AMA bretheren...
(here's a quote...):

November 17, 1998 Carl Layden, Atlantic Zone Director

MUNCIE, Indiana, Friday, November 13,1998 --- AMA SAFETY ALERT

An AMA member was recently severely burned when a model fuel can exploded as it was being opened. He received very severe burns, requiring extensive grafting, and is facing a long recovery period.

The metal can he was trying to open had been in storage for over 20 years. There is no evidence of an external spark or ignition source other than the container itself. Consultation with experts in the field indicates that materials, such as ether, propylene oxide and nitro methane, commonly used in model fuels may become destabilized and shock sensitive over a period of time. As best we can determine, this fuel, whose composition included two of these substances, was in a state of change. It is probable that this change in combination with the heat generated by the friction (metal to metal) in trying to open the container initiated the explosion.

AMA advises that it would be unwise to open fuel containing these products that have been stored for some period of time in metal containers. Such fuel should be taken to a Hazardous Waste disposal facility. (Any fuel stored for over 5 years would be suspect.

I know it is "freaky", but it demonstrates how the simple things we do can lead to accidents....

if only...
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