Recently the town of Seekonk, MA suffered from two uncontained fires within two months.
The first fire at the Old Grist Mill Tavern completely destroyed an historical landmark dating back from 1745. The external manual shutoff valve was too close to the fire and could not be accessed, and it took Columbia Gas of Massachusetts nearly two hours to turn off the gas.
The second fire occurred at the abandoned Attleboro Dye Works Mill which took nearly three hours to stop the gas leak.
Understandably, the community is outraged at the unnecessary severity of both fires, and the inability to get the gas shut off.
Fortunately an under-utilized, inexpensive solution is available to communities and gas utilities. Utilities can install inexpensive passive, thermal gas shutoffs to automatically shut the flow of gas when fire occurs.
Thermal activated gas shutoffs work like fuses for gas. When a fire occurs, the gas is shut down, preventing the gas from feeding the fire. For example, the FireBag® automatic shutoff contains a fusible link with a metal alloy that melts when the ambient temperature reaches 212° F. Once the alloy melts, a spring-armed plug is released to block the gas pipe and stop the flow of gas. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires these gas safety devices on gas “when the inlet piping to an exterior meter exceeds 4″ in nominal diameter.”
Given the severity of the Attleboro-Seekonk MA fires, utilities are discussing several more expensive, labor-intensive solutions – increasing staffing with access to records of backup valve locations during early morning, late-night and weekend hours. As well intentioned as these efforts may be, they do not provide the instant, automatic insurance that FireBag® thermal shutoffs can provide.
No matter how much staff is added and how well the piping and valve infrastructure is documented, a manual solution involves too many delays and opportunities for mishap.
Currently automatic thermal gas shutoffs are required for all gas applications throughout Europe, with over 30 years of proven experience in over 40 million installations.
Fortunately, utilities have a simple solution to prevent future fires from escalating so the community no longer needs to wait for someone to turn the gas off.
Massachusetts Approvals for FireBag Automatic Thermal Gas Shutoffs
- Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
- Massachusetts Plumbers and Gas Fitters’ code
International Standards for Automatic Gas Shutoffs
In addition to the Massachusetts’ approvals, the FireBag® is certified for international and thermal gas shutoff standards, including:
- DIN 3586 thermo activated safety device for gas applications
- European UNI EN 1775 Standard for indoor gas installations
- European Directive 90/396/CEE certification for durability in mechanical or thermal stress
- German DVGW TRGI 86/96 Standard for thermo activated locking systems on gas heaters, water heaters & domestic gas fittings
- German Standard Muster-Feuerverordnung (FeuVo v. 02/95 – edition 09/97) for thermo activated devices
- Italian UNI 7129 Ed 2001 Standard for fire protection and gas supply line components
More infomation on the FireBag thermal activated shutoff is available at: