Home Hot Wash THMG178 – Hot Wash: CO2 Incident & Acid Bath

THMG178 – Hot Wash: CO2 Incident & Acid Bath


In this episode, Bob and Mike discuss two different runs – one related to CO2 and one related to muriatic acid. After each run, they talk about lessons learned.

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Complete Show Notes

4:15 A Recent CO2 Run from Mike

  • Called for a CO2 leak in the basement at a Manhattan McDonald’s
  • Another unit was already on-scene but hadn’t done yet much
  • Mike was on the entry team and was working with another hazmat tech
  • Brought their CO2 meters and looked for the beverage room
  • Went from 0.06% (background level) to 0.5% when he started metering in the room
  • Room was probably 10’ x 15’ and had a giant rack of syrup boxes with lots of tubes
  • Regular, pressurized CO2 cylinder was off to the side – serves as a backup
  • Mike noticed that this setup didn’t look like anything he’d ever seen before, which seemed odd
  • Decided it was some new kind of tank designed for people who weren’t very familiar with CO2 cylinders
  • CO2 levels started to drop as soon as they disconnected the tanks
  • Sprayed the tanks down with soapy water and didn’t see bubbles, which is also a good sign
  • Mike’s partner noticed it said Coca-Cola syrup on the tanks right on the tanks – whoops!
  • Mike wondered why the levels were dropping – partner explained that the door was open, which meant CO2 was dispersing throughout the basement
  • Went upstairs and found the cryogenic cylinder – shut it down and saw the levels dropping to a safe level

13:25 Lessons Learned

  • If you’re a junior team member, never hesitate to speak up if something seems off
  • Don’t fall prey to confirmation bias
  • If you have to come up with a creative reason for why something is true, you’re probably wrong
  • The most simple answer is almost always the right answer
  • Mike saw syrup in the lines, but just assumed it was backed up – we should never make assumptions
  • Also didn’t notice the sanitation system connected to the lines – makes sense for syrup, but not CO2
  • Saw the syrup under the tanks, but didn’t think much of it and entirely missed the Coca-Cola label

20:00 Listener-Submitted Muriatic Acid Run

  • Run centered around a garbage worker who had been splashed with an unknown substance (turned out to be 31% muriatic acid)
  • Worker was burned, naked, and in pain – substance was reacting with the pavement
  • EMS wanted to do an emergency decon – incident commander told them no because there was no way to catch the runoff
  • When hazmat team arrived, the garbage worker was sitting in the truck with second- and third-degree burns
  • Hazmat techs insisted on cleaning him up – didn’t wait for a yes or no from the incident commander
  • Washed him down for 10 minutes right there in the street – pH levels were still coming up as 4
  • Assuming water from the hydrant was 55 degrees, hypothermia was also a concern on top of the burns
  • Lesson here is that victims should always be decontaminated immediately – life is always a priority
  • In this case, the garbage worker was covered with the unknown substance for 20 minutes
  • Keep in mind that chiefs in other departments often try to take their rules and apply them to hazmat, which is unacceptable – we need to always be aware of that

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