Aluminum regulators catching fire

  • Friday, September 16, 2022 1:14 PM
    Message # 12921804

    Does anyone recall there being a problem with aluminum regulators that may have caught fire. I somehow recall there was something about aluminum regulators years ago.

    “When the paramedic connected the CPAP to the portable oxygen cylinder, there was a sound described as a ‘pop’ followed by a bright flash of light, with the back of the ambulance immediately filling with smoke and fire,” Ireland said.

    Ireland said the preliminary findings do not suggest that any of the actions taken by the paramedic contributed to the incident. He also said that the investigation is centering on the portable oxygen cylinder and the regulator mechanism as the possible source of the fire.

    The precise cause of the fire within the regulator tank mechanism is not known.

    Wilkinson continues to recover at the hospital and was recently transferred out of the intensive care unit. His health is continuing to improve, Ireland said.

    Two investigations, a fire investigation and an unattended death investigation, have been launched and are still ongoing.

  • Friday, September 16, 2022 2:40 PM
    Reply # 12921924 on 12921804

    Thank The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is warning fire departments and other emergency care and health care employers and workers about an occupational risk from aluminum attachments or regulators that controls the flow of oxygen from pressurized oxygen tanks or cylinders often used by fire departments and emergency medical services, and in health care settings. A number of factors can contribute to the generation of a fire flash from these aluminum devices during equipment checks or routine use when the valve on the attached cylinder is opened, releasing a flow of oxygen to the regulator.

    NIOSH investigated an incident in Florida in which a firefighter suffered first-, second-, and third-degree burns over 36 percent of his body when a flash from an aluminum oxygen regulator released two 4-foot flames during a routine equipment check. NIOSH is disseminating a report based on this investigation that discusses risk factors and suggests precautionary measures for fire departments, emergency medical services, and others who use high-pressure oxygen systems.

    The report is posted on NIOSH’s World Wide Web page at A printed copy will be disseminated soon to 37,000 fire departments and emergency medical services in the U.S. The incident in Florida was one of two cases involving firefighter injury that NIOSH has investigated. A report on the second incident, which occurred in South Carolina, is being finalized.

    While comprehensive data are not available, NIOSH is aware of at least 14 incidents involving occupational injuries to 15 firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and health care workers from fire flashes related to aluminum oxygen regulators. For this reason, NIOSH collaborated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a joint public health advisory that FDA is distributing to an additional 29,000 users of oxygen resuscitation systems, including hospitals, nursing homes, and home health care agencies. The public health advisory is available on FDA’s Web page at icon.

    From tests conducted during the Florida investigation, NIOSH determined that a particle of aluminum from the oxygen cylinder entered the oxygen regulator when the cylinder valve was opened during an equipment check. The particle struck a filter component and ignited with the impact during the oxygen flow. In turn, a fire flash was triggered when aluminum in the regulator’s high-pressure section ignited; this is the part of the regulator that high-pressure oxygen enters from the cylinder. A similar hazard can be created from the impact of other types of particles in the oxygen flow, such as dirt or other contaminants.

    Using a regulator constructed of bronze, brass, or other materials with comparable heat-resistant properties is a key safety step because these materials, unlike aluminum, are not likely to promote burning from particle ignition during oxygen flow. NIOSH suggested that users consult with the manufacturer to determine if a regulator is made of aluminum.

  • Sunday, September 18, 2022 11:10 AM
    Reply # 12923257 on 12921804


    I think you recall the Allied Healthcare problems from around 1990.  They had some of these go up on ambulances just like your description. 

    They went to an aluminum body but all brass wetted parts as I recall.

    Around the same time these were made illegal in Europe as I understand. Draeger also experienced problems. 

  • Monday, September 19, 2022 9:16 AM
    Reply # 12924101 on 12921804
    Al Moon (Administrator)

    So, all most 30 years ago a problem was identified, for the risk of fire and explosion (i.e. aluminum regulators).

    ? Was this truly the case in this matter ?

  • Monday, September 19, 2022 11:14 AM
    Reply # 12924309 on 12921804

    We currently had a fire in an ambulance that lost the life of one person severely burned another and the third with minor injury. The ambulance in the hospital loading zone was completely gutted.

    The source of the fire was the regulator, and the regulator was aluminum.

    Last modified: Monday, September 19, 2022 12:43 PM | Don Holden

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