The incident

During a trial of fire-fighting equipment, a hose expansion joint or bellows failed, releasing pressurized water. The water hit a crewman who was  nearby, slamming him backward and knocking him unconscious. The fire pump was shut down and CPR was administered. The injured person was medevaced.

Credit: IMCA

As ICMA said, this incident could have been a potential fatality, as the injured person was in hospital for some weeks.

Probable cause

IMCA identified the following issues as contributors to the accident:

  • Inadequate management of significant risk;
  • No understanding of the life time of the expansion joint or bellows;
  • No installation procedure provided for this bellows by the manufacturer;
  • No preventive maintenance or inspection/testing of the failed equipment.

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Lessons learned

A similar rupture of a bellows took place some years previously, but it was not investigated. If it been investigated, it might have helped in preventing the same incident from happening.

In addition, engineering and design of critical equipment during new building should consider personnel safety as well as equipment protection. What is also important is the need for  a better design review of pressurised equipment, particularly where different components are in use.

Credit: IMCA