Author
Amanda Gläser-Bligh
Communications & Political Affairs

What’s orange & blue and likes to smoke?

It’s the flames from our gas pipeline in Sarstedt, Germany (near Hannover). There, we have a place for our own workers as welll as for firefighters to learn how to properly extinguish natural gas fires.

We visited the sight on a cool February night, together with the members of the fire department of Harsum - another town in Lower Saxony, in the area of Hildesheim. And it turns out that these exercises can only happen now, in the winter. Otherwise, the heat and smoke from the fire can be too much for the surrounding trees, when the buds start to bloom.

The fire fighters got an introduction from our man at Avacon, Mike Meyer, and learned a thing or two about what’s special about natural gas fires.

Stinky

In general two methods are used to determine if natural gas is leaking. The first is through use of a detection device, which can measure the ppm in the air. The rule of thumb given to the crew was, if there’s more than 2% natural gas in the air, then don’t enter a building. The explosion danger is too high.

Second the easier way to detect the natural gas, that has no smell, through it’s smell. Wait, didn’t we just say that it’s odorless? Well, to fix that problem, almost everyone adds in a scent to natural gas so that it’s easier to sniff out. It’s not a good smell, but it shouldn’t be. It’s important to be aware if there’s a leak.

Avacon
Avacon

Powder, but not for your nose

The best way to put out a gas fire is with special extinguishers that use powder. But never try to put out a gas fire with water. It’s not that effective and can cause injury, as the water itself can heat up and scald you back. However, water can be used for cooling.

All together now

When tackling the flames, it’s best to work in teams, if the flames are really large, and then to coordinate the stream of the extinguishers in the direction of the wind. During the first round of firefighting Sarstedt, the flame was straight and high. But after a while, our experts changed the pipe to create more of a fireball effect. The flames became much harder to extinguish and the fire fighters had to work together.

A virtual rainbow

The flame itself has many colors, with the blue part of the flame being the hottest part (around 1400 - 1600 °C) Moving away from the source of the flame, the fire fans out into white, orange and red themes.

Thank you for your service

It’s a great honor to host local firemen and women at our Sarstedt location and to share our knowledge with them about gas fires. It’s really a win-win. We help the community and give our brave firefighters a chance to put their knowledge into practice. And we keep all of our customers - and all people everywhere - safe in case of fire.