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Carpet Cleaning Truck Fires - Do's and Don'ts

rugslayer

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Hey Rob: With regard to the last :rolleyes::rolleyes:fire picture you posted: Why is it that rather than put the fire out the photographer took the time to capture the moment with a snapshot!!!!???
 

Dave Y

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Don't know where you get your information Rob.

I've been hearing for years that the main source of truckmount fires is gasoline.

(Just ask Bill Bane)

Gasoline is far more dangerous than propane for various reasons.
Such as propane is heavier than air not gasoline.

People are just more conditioned to using gasoline.

Even with propane the main problem would be getting flammables too close to the unit. The same as with a heat exchanger or fuel oil.

They don't flame up and propane has several shutoffs and a thermal switch.

Just as safe as the water heater in millions homes.


BTW: The pic Rob found was not a carpet cleaning van.
 

rob allen

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Hey Rob: With regard to the last :rolleyes::rolleyes:fire picture you posted: Why is it that rather than put the fire out the photographer took the time to capture the moment with a snapshot!!!!???
Maybe he was fed up with it and decided to throw on a few hot dogs.
 

rob allen

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Insurance companies hate propane in a truck for a reason;


Van Fire Sparks Blast; Three People Injured
Orange County | IN BRIEF / HUNTINGTON BEACH
April 01, 2003|From Times Staff Reports
A carpet-cleaning van caught fire in front of a Huntington Beach apartment building Monday, causing an explosion that injured three people.

Battalion Chief Frank Mead, a spokesman for the Huntington Beach Fire Department, said the explosion occurred about 2 p.m. when the fire ignited a propane tank inside the van as the carpet cleaners worked in the 5100 block of Heil Avenue.
One resident and two carpet cleaners were taken to hospitals with first- and second-degree burns to their faces, arms and legs, according to Mead. None of the injuries, he said, was life-threatening...
 

Bob Savage

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Rob Allen said:
Insurance companies hate propane in a truck for a reason;


Van Fire Sparks Blast; Three People Injured
Orange County | IN BRIEF / HUNTINGTON BEACH
April 01, 2003|From Times Staff Reports
A carpet-cleaning van caught fire in front of a Huntington Beach apartment building Monday, causing an explosion that injured three people.

Battalion Chief Frank Mead, a spokesman for the Huntington Beach Fire Department, said the explosion occurred about 2 p.m. when the fire ignited a propane tank inside the van as the carpet cleaners worked in the 5100 block of Heil Avenue.
One resident and two carpet cleaners were taken to hospitals with first- and second-degree burns to their faces, arms and legs, according to Mead. None of the injuries, he said, was life-threatening...
Did you read that Rob. It said a fire (something else started the fire) ignited the propane tank INSIDE the van. The propane tank is NOT supposed to be INSIDE the van. It is to be mounted under the van, OUTSIDE!

And where did you get this tidbit of information - Insurance companies hate propane in a truck for a reason

I have used propane exclusively for 26 years in my truckmounts, and have NEVER had an insurance company ask me whay type of heating system the truckmount uses, nor am I charged an extra premium for using propane heating systems by the insurance company.

Please, before you post something, make sure you can back it up with several reliable news sources. There are a lot of people on these boards referring to LP tanks as bombs. I can see why they would think that.

Don't add fuel to the fire, my friend.
 

Scott W

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I actually had a propane fire inside my van many years ago. As you can imagine, I was VERY cautious before deciding what truckmount heat system to continue with. My investigation agreed with Duane and Bob - Propane was the safest heat source at that time! (Not really any great HX units I found in the late 1980's.) So even having experienced a propane fire, I felt comfortable continuing to use propane. Gasoline fires from fuel line or fuel pump problems were much more common.
 
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Gasoline fires from fuel line or fuel pump problems were much more common.
They still are...

Having been making and installing truck mounts for about 14 years, I've seen a lot of accidents involving them. Fires are not limited to propane systems. And, the majority of the fires I've been aware of in recent years were HX systems, actually, that has gasoline leaks, or had someone leave something flammable up against an exchanger, etc.

The gasoline thing is why I've figured a way to build a system that does not use pressurized fuel from an external fuel pump. The only fuel pump used is the one on the Kohler engine, which seriously minimizes the potential of a gas leak, and eliminates the possibility of the fuel pump continuing to feed the fire, in the event that a fire is started.

I've seen propane systems in trucks that were in a major accident, T-boned by another vehicle at high impact, total the van, yet leave the tank intact. They're made to super- high standards, and are totally trustworthy, as long as they are not in the van and as long as fuel is shut off while in transit.

It really is all about common sense... Common sense in building and installing them in the first place... and common sense in owning and operating them.
 

idreadnought

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I agree that propane is safe if used safely. However not everyone uses it safely. Lighting the pilot on every job? Some do some don't . A leaking gas line won't always start a fire but a leaking propane line will almost always cause a flashover. My first truckmount was a propane heated unit. I had a fire one time and it was not caused by the propane. However my biggest fear was a propane line burning and causing a much larger fire. I was able to put the fire out and rebuild the van and machine but it gave me new respect for fire. I will not use an electric fuel pump for any reason. The mechanical one attacthed to the engine will quit feeding fuel when the engine stops running because of the fire. Oh to answer everyones burning question (lol no pun intended) the fire was most likely caused by debree touching the exhaust or muffler. Burned the seats, dash headliner and the wires, hoses on the machine. One weekend and I was back in business.
 

Lefty724

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Thanks for the tips guys! I have an electric fuel pump now and will make sure I keep up on maintenance now!
 

Bob Savage

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You can always mount the truckmount fuel pump UNDER THE VAN, and not inside the van. It will be much safer

Of course, when you get the truckmount, it is on the frame of the truckmount.
 

bonesheal

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So how do you attach a propane tank to the bottom of a van? I wouldn't have thought that there was room to do that. I'm assuming we're talking about the long skinny tanks, but I don't think my van has that kind of clearance.

Is it necessary to cut the propane off at the tank, or can it be done inside the TM?
 

Bob Savage

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Dan said:
So how do you attach a propane tank to the bottom of a van? I wouldn't have thought that there was room to do that. I'm assuming we're talking about the long skinny tanks, but I don't think my van has that kind of clearance.

Is it necessary to cut the propane off at the tank, or can it be done inside the TM?
Dan,

Depending on the van that you have, there is space behind the driver's door, under the van, between the outside skin of the van, and the frame member of the van. The tank mounts parallel to the van itself, using 2 -1/2" SS bolts, lock nuts, regular and fender washers.

On some vans you can get a 12" X 44" tank to fit in there. The LP tanks come in all different sizes, but I usually use either a 10" X 32" (holds about 9 gallons when full), or on smaller vans, a 10" X 23" tank (holds about 5.5 gallons when full).

If there isn't space there, then you can mount the LP tank in the rear of the van, perpendicular to the van itself, where many of the van spare tires go.

These are belly mount tanks, actually made for the RV industry. DOT (State Department Of Transportation) requires that the lowest part of the tank is NOT below the bottom of the rear differential case.

You cut the propane OFF at the tank, not inside. It comes with a valve to do this, along with a gauge to show when it is empty.
 

tcornine

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what would you suggest over a little giant ?
 

rob allen

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It seems to me that oil fired would be the best of both worlds. Is there a suitable oil fired heater that would work with our industry? One that runs off diesel or kero?
 

rob allen

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Just to show that I am not biased, here is a hx model fire

 

rob allen

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rob allen

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Hey Rob,

If you look closely at the inside picture of that van fire, you will see the square Little Giant heater.

I don't think LP was the cause of that particular fire, because as you look at the inside van picture, the LP heater looks untouched.

The majority of those van fires you see in print are caused by gasoline, a fuel pump inside the van leaking, or a loose or cracked gas line, or a loose clamp, or a leaking fuel filter, etc. — NOT PROPANE.

I have been using LP exclusively for 26 years of cleaning, and I can say that it is very safe, and HOT when you need it. It doesn't give off any odor when it is running, and it is very clean burning.

You're not related to Bill Bane, are you Rob? ...LOL

Hear's the deal - there is propane (LP) everywhere, and you do not read about constant problems and fires.

Do you have a backyard propane grill? If so, are you concerned about it's safety?

Do you have one of the thousands of RV's, or campers, that use propane?

Do you heat your house with NG (Natural Gas - Propane's cousin)?

Do you heat your house water with NG or LP?

See, LP and NG are everywhere. They are extremely clean burning, so clean that here in Ohio, vehicles that run on LP are exempt form state mandated emissions checks!

The sky is not falling on LP truckmounts, and with the advent of the more automatic LP heaters, technicians don't ever have to touch anything about the LP heaters, except to turn the temperature dial UP or DOWN.

Contrary to popular belief I have nothing against propane. I now sell propane and diesel fired units. I personally would not own a propane fired unit for several reasons addressed in this thread. Especially when it comes to employees because propane has a higher propensity to do catastrophic damage when accidents occur. Here is small sample list of why propane accidents happen;

  • Defective gas control valves or connectors
  • Negligent maintenance of tank, valves or connectors
  • Improper location and installation of equipment
  • Negligent employees
  • Over-pressurization of propane tanks
  • Failure to odorize propane
  • Defective equipment such as leaking tanks,hoses, valves and pipes
  • Poorly maintained vans used to store or transmit propane
  • Unlabeled or insufficiently labeled equipment



That being said check out this stat regarding backyard propane grills Bob;


Thousands of Americans are killed and injured each year in propane gas explosions and fires. The improper use of propane barbecue grills alone results in more than 6,000 accidental fires and explosions and approximately 20 deaths each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.


So if you choose propane just follow all safety instructions and use common sense. Propane is fine for some but it is not for me.

Rob Allen
 
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"Failure to odorize propane"...? Where did you get that one?

I've never heard of such a thing.

"Poorly maintained vans..."

Huih?
 

TA152H

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"Failure to odorize propane"...? Where did you get that one?

I've never heard of such a thing.

"Poorly maintained vans..."

Huih?
He probably is referring to the fact that propane has no odor, like gasoline, or natural gas, and therefore is undetectable. Therefore, as a precaution, these substances get an odorant added so humans can detect them. If you don't do this, you can't detect it by smell, so wouldn't necessarily be aware there is a problem until it's too late, and has become catastrophic.