Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service responded to a reported collapse of a crane at Falmouth Docks on the morning of Wednesday 10th May. The incident resulted in damage to acetylene cylinders causing a leak of their contents.
Due to the explosive nature of Acetylene, an exclusion area was established as a precaution resulting in the evacuation of the docks and surrounding residential accommodation. Police officers initiated the cordon and evacuation.
Fortunately, there were no injuries to any dock workers or the crane operator as a result of the collapse and the crane operator is credited with preventing a more serious outcome.
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service described the incident as a minor hazardous material incident.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus carried out a survey of the affected cylinders using thermal imaging cameras to assess whether there was any internal heating. In addition water spray from firefighting jets was used to disperse the acetylene gas that had leaked whilst Firefighters isolated each of the cylinders. Specialist advice was received from the company who supply the cylinders.
The Services Emergency Management team liaised with personnel on scene and with other authorities to ensure the needs of persons evacuated were being considered.
During the assessment of the cylinders, a Firefighter suffered minor injuries and was taken to the local minor injuries unit for a precautionary check.
Following isolation of the affected cylinders and a thorough assessment, the scene cordon was reduced to the immediate area around the crane to facilitate an accident investigation.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Phil Martin said “Incidents involving acetylene cylinders require a well-managed response and the cordon is put in place to ensure the safety of members of the public. I am pleased to report that the Firefighter who was injured suffered only minor injuries and was taken to hospital as a precaution, we do of course wish him a speedy recovery. I would like to thank our crews, management, and staff at the docks, the Police and members of the public for the swift evacuation and adherence to the cordon. Whilst we recognise that an evacuation causes disruption the safety of the public is always paramount in our decision making.”
Fire and Rescue crews were able to leave the site at lunchtime the same day.
Photo Courtesy of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, Falmouth