Undetected Battery Charger Fire

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Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby banjodog on Fri Oct 31, 2008 4:34 am

FE Warren's turn in the barrel - a battery charger fire at an LF went undetected for a few days.... Of course there aren't any smoke detectors at an LF.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jMhQ79mE-Kq4nNa8g83QOq8XmdfQD9454CQG0
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Charlie EMT on Fri Oct 31, 2008 12:12 pm

I'm showing my middle age brain-farts here - - - ; wasn't there some sort of alarm set-up (a VERSA-type) for low battery charge or something that would have cause the EMT types to be dispatched to the site? Or maybe there was a commercial power hit - and in the moments between that and the diesel starting up - when the MG would have gone to batterys - the site went down when the MG 'crashed'... Dunno...

Darn - I forget what replaced VERSA too - what's sad is that I and another guy from the TTB Branch were the responsible instructors who taught the modification procedures to 6 guys - who's post trainig life for months on end was only preforming the mod at the LF's...
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby SAC Killer on Fri Oct 31, 2008 4:02 pm

In 133-A/M there were indications of power failure, but I don't recall the details. I don't think the indication was that the site was on batteries; it was that either the commercial or the standby power was gone from which you inferred the site was on batteries if both were gone. These were VRSA faults. Indication that the batteries were gone was that the site would shut down. VRSA never had indications of fire, and as others have pointed out, there aren't any smoke detectors. But even overheats, much less fires, are extremely rare. In my time up north, I don't recall any fires occurring in the LFs.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Ducky on Sat Nov 01, 2008 12:46 am

The way I understand it, the new ECS doesnt replace air, it just recycles it. So when the batteries vent off hydrogen during charging (like any vented battery will), it just accumulates and concentrates. Power gets interrupted at site, the brushes drop on the MG, boom.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Lendys on Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:25 am

I don't like how they are trying to say this is some how the Air Force mishandling their nuclear missiles again. This strikes me more like what happened with the B-2. A mechanical error caused by a design flaw that no one (from the entire life of the system) forsaw happening or had any real way of detecting what was happening before it went wrong.

From what I've heard the crews didn't do anything wrong, MMOC didn't do anything wrong, somewhere an engineer/designer made a mistake that slowly compounded itself.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Ducky on Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:33 am

Lendys wrote:I don't like how they are trying to say this is some how the Air Force mishandling their nuclear missiles again. This strikes me more like what happened with the B-2. A mechanical error caused by a design flaw that no one (from the entire life of the system) forsaw happening or had any real way of detecting what was happening before it went wrong.

From what I've heard the crews didn't do anything wrong, MMOC didn't do anything wrong, somewhere an engineer/designer made a mistake that slowly compounded itself.


Exactly. Old ECS replaces air, so all that vented hydrogen goes away. New ECS just recycles the air. This really sucks for us because we now have to test the air before entering site. The day after this happened, the AF bought every electric air meter this company had and had them overnighted to all the bases hahaha. About 10/base at a cost of $6k each. And the media is talking about how it wasnt discovered for days, well of course not, some of these sites go weeks or months without being PENed.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby njh621 on Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:48 am

I think what they should do is install detectors at the LFs and connect them to low-voltage pairs of the HICS. Modify the control software to monitor LF temp, air quality (so that it could detect various gases like H2), etc. That way if something happened it could be resolved quickly. They could even go as far as to install a halon fire suppression system and modify it so it could be started or stopped from the LCC. Install the same detectors in the LCC (minus the fire suppression system) and install monitoring equipment at the WCP. I mean, an LF is no good if the support equipment is all totaled.

Expensive, yes. Worth it, I think so. Impossible, not at all.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Ducky on Sat Nov 01, 2008 4:04 am

Eh, the AF has taken a much simpler and probably cheaper approach. After this happened, we had to hit all 150 LF's up here for air quality checks. Some sites were determined to be at risk, and they have to be checked every 15 days. We are also going to be replacing all of the battery chargers over time, not sure how that will help (maybe slower charging = less heat = less hydrogen).
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby njh621 on Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:00 pm

I'm not sure what kind of chargers they have, but maybe they should install "smart" chargers, like the ones they have for RC Car batteries. They could rapidly charge the battery while monitoring amperage and voltage, and then once they are fully charged the charger automatically switches over to a tickle charge.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby banjodog on Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:58 pm

Ducky wrote:Old ECS replaces air, so all that vented hydrogen goes away. New ECS just recycles the air.


Not that I remember. Old and probably new ECS at the LF just recycle the air. If the site is closed up, there's no way clean air is getting in, at least on Malmstrom's ILCS sites back in my day.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Ducky on Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:17 pm

banjodog wrote:
Ducky wrote:Old ECS replaces air, so all that vented hydrogen goes away. New ECS just recycles the air.


Not that I remember. Old and probably new ECS at the LF just recycle the air. If the site is closed up, there's no way clean air is getting in, at least on Malmstrom's ILCS sites back in my day.


Remember PEN procedures? If the LO-MAKE UP AIRFLOW light has been on for more than 24 hours, you cant enter site for 30 minutes from the time the primary door opens. That light is telling you that there hasnt been enough fresh air getting into site, and you need to let it air out.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby J Davis on Sat Nov 01, 2008 8:42 pm

On the WS-133B/CDB system, there should have been an MSR 534 "Battery Charger Alarm" reporting. I am not familiar with the MOSR for the -/AM system, however, would believe that there is an alarm for battery charger failures. In any case, it should be a Priority 3 PMC fault which would require EMT'ers to show up rather soon.

Also, I wonder if any other system(s) showed faults due to the fire. On the B system, the Security System, MG, MF Radio RCV/XMIT, and UHF breakers were on the 6521 Battery Charger Group.

I am pretty sure there is more to the story than advertised.

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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby Ducky on Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:00 am

The battery chargers was not faulty, its a design thing. And from what I have heard, there was no "fire" in the typical sense (the shotgun shells didnt even go off), it was more of a flash fire that was localized around the MG and would have never had the time to make it through the tube and heat the missile.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby banjodog on Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:40 am

Ducky wrote:Remember PEN procedures? If the LO-MAKE UP AIRFLOW light has been on for more than 24 hours, you cant enter site for 30 minutes from the time the primary door opens. That light is telling you that there hasnt been enough fresh air getting into site, and you need to let it air out.


I kind of remember the pen procedures, but I don't remember that. Where's the air coming in from? The only air intake I remember is for the diesel in the (soft) LSBs at Malmstrom, and there were no airflow sensors on it. I still believe that the LER a/c unit just blows existing air around; it doesn't suck any in from outside - it can't.

When an M/G burned up, we had to go out with a BT-400 heater, not for the heat but for the air circulation they could (supposedly) provide when hooked up to one of those 20' long, 2' diameter yellow hoses. I say supposedly because the fan didn't seem to push much air. Towards the end of my time someone got the bright idea to use whatever fans the fire dep't uses to air out buildings; I don't know if the idea went anywhere.
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Re: Undetected Battery Charger Fire

Postby SAC_COP on Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:07 am

Lendys wrote:I don't like how they are trying to say this is some how the Air Force mishandling their nuclear missiles again. This strikes me more like what happened with the B-2. A mechanical error caused by a design flaw that no one (from the entire life of the system) forsaw happening or had any real way of detecting what was happening before it went wrong.

From what I've heard the crews didn't do anything wrong, MMOC didn't do anything wrong, somewhere an engineer/designer made a mistake that slowly compounded itself.


Again, a Titan guy here so don't bite my head off, but why aren't they venting the LF's instead of recycling the air? Seems like a recipe for disaster in my book.

Also, from reading elsewhere, I understand that when crews do go out to the LF's that they have to test the air before entering, and it seems to me that in the case of an emergency, where the crews would be needed downstaire NOW, that delaying the entry while venting could also be a "bad" thing.
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