Natural Gas & Propane Explosion Expert
Propane is a hydrocarbon that is typically stored under pressure as a liquid and used as a gas. Its properties allow it to be transported in a concentrated liquid form, and then easily converted for use in a gaseous form. Since commercial propane is not pure 100% propane (C3H8), it is more accurately referred to as liquefied petroleum gas (LP gas). Propane can be used for residential, commercial or industrial purposes.
Because of its favorable qualities, propane is sometimes transported in steel cylinders. The cylinders are filled to the proper level and transported to customers’ facilities for use, or small cylinders are brought to a propane dealer’s site for refill. Customers who use greater quantities sometimes have large, permanent tanks at their sites, which are filled with propane by bulk delivery trucks.
Safety Considerations with Natural Gas and Propane
Propane gas is odorized with a sulphur compound called ethyl mercaptan, which is added according to federal and industry safety requirements. Ethyl mercaptan gives the propane its recognizable gaseous smell, and its concentration can be measured and easily quantified by specialized laboratories to determine if the propane meets federal standards.
Bison Engineering routinely obtains gas & propane samples for laboratory evaluation. While this process is relatively simple, it can be dangerous, as well. DOT requires specialized training to take and ship propane samples. Few companies are equipped to properly obtain gas samples to determine odorant concentrations. Bison also works with leading chemists throughout the United States to determine additional qualities of the odorant if necessary.
Propane is transported by pipeline or truck to local storage facilities. The National Fire Protection Association writes guidelines for the transportation and use of propane gas in NFPA 58 (also known as the LP Gas Code).
Once the gas enters a home or facility, another code—NFPA 54—provides specifications for the installation of gas lines and appliances. NFPA 54 is also known as the National Fuel Gas Code. Bison personnel work with these codes regularly and are familiar with their historical use and development. A number of other codes and standards apply to the use and handling of propane, and Bison experts are familiar with their content and applicability, as well.
Forensic Excellence in Natural Gas & Propane Explosions
Bison Engineering’s qualifications are among the finest in North America, with a staff that includes Certified Fire Investigators and engineers with more than twenty five years of experience in the examination and evaluation of propane fires and explosions. All investigations are approached with complete objectivity and awareness that any number things may have happened. If the cause is not immediately identifiable, Bison experts sift through all available materials to determine the smallest clues.
With methodical precision they view a number of scenarios and, when possible, interview all available witnesses or service personnel familiar with the site or circumstances surrounding the propane explosion. Bison engineers base their findings only on scientifically provable information and do not speculate on any cause that cannot be substantiated.
Bison has conducted many successful testing programs to duplicate the scenarios of incidents they have investigated. Fire and explosion tests are conducted at a remote facility maintained for that purpose, with results recorded by specialized computer monitoring equipment. As needed, results are illustrated for juror review using the highest quality computer graphics. Bison engineers are also available as expert witnesses who present facts clearly and with authority during courtroom testimony and cross examination. This combination of experience and expertise continues to be an invaluable resource for the company’s clients, and has resulted in many favorable judgments when findings have been presented to juries.