Flame Retardant Causes Warehouse Fire


A flame retardant stored in a California foam insulation, coatings and roofing company’s warehouse led to a hazardous materials scare for firefighters after it caught fire and then exploded.

The recent three-alarm fire at General Coatings Manufacturing Corp., in Fresno, led to several firefighters being decontaminated because of the chemical scare, according to the Fresno Bee. At least four fire crews had to be hosed down in 39-degree weather, the report says.

Another report on a local TV station indicated that as many as 16 to 20 firefighters were affected.

Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Todd Tuggle reportedly told the daily newspaper that the unnamed flame retardant usually is kept warm by a machine. Fire investigators believe the machine malfunctioned and caused the subsequent fire and explosion.

There were no reports of injuries, according to multiple media sources. Calls made to the fire department and the company for additional comments were not immediately returned.

“Fireball That Erupted”

According to Tuggle, the explosion happened as soon as firefighters began to hose down the flames.

“There was a fireball that erupted at them,” Tuggle told the Bee. “They described it as a concussion grenade.

“The sound was enormous,” Tuggle continued. “There was an extremely loud explosion that happened in front of them.”

General Coatings Manufacturing Corp.

In addition to spray polyurethane foam insulation, the company makes primers and protective coatings for a variety of applications, according to its website.

Firefighters who had been exposed to the chemical had to be stripped down and washed off outside as the temperature dropped, the daily newspaper said. About 12 engines, three trucks, two battalion chiefs, the hazmat team and emergency service personnel responded to the fire.

After it was out, crews dug up the area and used dirt as a barrier to ensure the toxic water that had been used to douse the flames did not spill into nearby storm drains and spread any possible contamination, reports indicate.

About the Company

According to its website, General Coatings Manufacturing has made spray polyurethane foams (SPFs), roof coatings and protective coatings for residential, commercial and industrial applications for the past 25 years. Its products are used in roofing, walls, cold storage, tanks, oil and gas, agriculture, equipment manufacturing, energy production, education facilities, the military and water systems, its website says.

In addition to SPF, the company also makes primers to adhere foam insulation to a variety of substrates, according to its website. The company has warehouse facilities in Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and Texas.


Tagged categories: Building enclosure system; Building Envelope; Coating chemistry; Coatings; Coatings under insulation; Cool roof coatings; Fire; Fireproofing; Fire-resistive coatings; hazardous materials; Insulation; North America; Passive Fire Protection; Protective Coatings; Roof coatings; Roof insulation; Spray foam; Spray polyurethane foam

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