By Robert Reek
The inside of the PFN cabinet of NLCTA (Photo by Keith
Modulator 1, where the fire took place. The coils are what remain of
the high voltage capacitors.
On July 9, a small fire occurred just after midnight in
the PFN cabinet of NLCTA Modulator 1. This fire highlighted both the
effectiveness of our emergency response systems and the ongoing need to
analyze and respond to events such as this.
Even a small fire can be destructive. In this case, the
fire destroyed the cabinet and its contents, melting nearby water-cooling
hoses. Water from the hoses then entered and overfilled the insulating oil
tank which, in turn, caused the release of about 100 gallons of oil into
Quick, safe response by the Palo Alto Fire Department
(PAFD) and SLAC personnel allowed the fire to be extinguished and the
spill to be contained within the building. Hence, there were no injuries
or environmental releases.
The staff that responded were very effective in making
correct and timely decisions to keep this emergency from being worse than
it could have been, and the fire was quickly contained. However, the
modulator will be unavailable for at least several weeks and possibly
Analyzing the Incident
Two reviews of this incident were conducted and lessons
learned were identified. These lessons include exploring the usefulness of
enhancing the fire suppression systems in this
equipment and possibly streamlining, coordinating and
enhancing SLAC emergency response plans.
DOE’s Integrated Safety Management System (ISMS) ‘circle
of improvement’ provides a road map for the SLAC response to any incident
such as this. Using ISMS, we analyzed the hazards highlighted by this
event, developed further controls and are in the process of implementing
them. In the future, we will perform the work with these additional safety
elements in place. Subsequent feedback on these fixes will ensure that
this improvement process is continuous.
Events like this teach all SLACers to "think fire safety
and be safe."