Home Hot Wash THMG146 – Hot Wash: Cylinders with Bob Coschignano

THMG146 – Hot Wash: Cylinders with Bob Coschignano


In this episode, Mike sits down with Bob Coschignano from Hazmat101 Consultants to discuss an interesting incident that happened recently. They explore the use of seemingly simple chemical and physical properties to reverse engineer a solution to the problem.



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Click here to learn more about the incident discussed in today’s hot wash!

Complete Show Notes

3:35 Introduction to Bob Coschignano

  • Hazmat lieutenant with the City of Orlando Fire Department
  • Worked in the fire service almost 29 years – over 20 of those years involved hazardous materials
  • Instructs around the country
  • Started Hazmat101 Consultants to provide training on hazmat from basic to advanced levels, site surveys, and whatever else you might need

5:00 Background on the Incident

  • Bob’s team is comprised of an engine company (4 people) and 3 hazmat truck companies
  • Bob was the hazmat shift lieutenant when the incident occured – it was his first shift back after being out for a month with a back injury
  • Got a call when they were eating lunch on a weekday about a building explosion in downtown Orlando
  • The building at the dispatch address was intact, but the entire back wall of the building to the rear was blown out
  • There was a parking lot between the two buildings, so it didn’t affect the dispatch address at all
  • Bob’s first thought was that it was a natural gas explosion – they’d tried to inspect it for years, but could never get in because it was always locked
  • Owner of the building told Bob’s team nobody was in the facility at the time of the explosion
  • Amtrak and CSX Rail Lines were close to the building (within 30 feet), and a major interstate was around 50 feet away

8:45 Arriving At the Scene

  • Occupant of the building had been working with/created an experimental gas called carbohydrillium – Bob’s team had never heard of it and didn’t know anything about it
  • Said the gas wasn’t flammable, but he was using it for cooking and to torch different metals, so Bob knew it definitely was flammable
  • Told Bob there were 13 other bottles of carbohydrillium in the building (half full and half empty) – nobody else was in the building, so there was no life hazard
  • Occupant informed Bob’s team he’d had 4 other “failures”, but that they were very small pinhole leaks from the cylinders or the valving

11:30 Mitigating the Threat

  • Bob’s team entered in SCBA and full turnout gear and used their meters as they moved through the warehouse
  • Two team members and a robot entered the warehouse and set up a fog line across the building – they’d crack open a cylinder and have the unmanned monitor meter the contents
  • Once the cylinder was opened, the team would listen on the monitor outside the building and enter once the gas had completely dissipated – took almost 7 hours to repeat this process for all 13 containers

20:40 Reflecting on the Incident

  • Bob’s team was at a huge disadvantage since they didn’t know anything about the chemical-physical properties of carbohydrillium
  • Ultimately, though, they were able to reverse-engineer a solution by testing the chemical-physical properties
  • When tested in the lab, carbohydrillium was found to contain 60% hydrogen, 35% carbon monoxide, 1-2% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of trace gasses
  • Had an extremely wide flammable range (7.6% to 63.4%), which added to the substance’s danger factor
  • There were suggestions that the cylinder was rusting from the inside out, but these suspicions haven’t been confirmed

27:35 Lessons Learned

  • Safety is always the number one priority when we’re dealing with the public – there was strong pressure not to shut down the rail line and the highway, but keeping the public safe was more important
  • Slow down when there’s no life hazard – gather as much information as you can (in a timely manner) before making decisions
  • Always use rotating crews when you can to maximize manpower and keep people fresh

31:55 How to Contact Bob

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