Knickers in a twist?

No, not really…

Debt Kauz writes (over several posts):

I use a HH with a bulk tank. Geeze…why do I feel like I’m at BTA (bulk tank annonymous)? LOL I check it frequently. I use it outside. And I’ll keep doing it. I realize that there are folks out there that get their knicks in a twist about those of us who do it but other than you I’ve never heard of any other issues. I check things frequently. Would I use it inside? Not a chance in hell!

Pam I totally agree with you. I’m willing to take the risk in the situation I’m working in right now. It’s that or no torch at all and I’m just not willing to have no torch at all at the moment. When it gets too cold for me to sit on my deck and torch then I’m through for a while. I would never even dream of taking it inside.

It’s a choice I’m making and it’s one I can live with. Somehow I doubt if it’s even close to a Darwin Award.

The thing that I really wonder is why we are making such a big deal of this being a HotHead? I would assume that the problem that happened could happen with ANY torch set up. It wasn’t the torch. It wasn’t the tank. It was the HOSE. That could happen to anyone, no matter what the torch set up they were using. I wonder if anyone would get their knicks in such a twist if it had been a Minor or a Bobcat or any other duel fuel torch.As was pointed out to me by someone I respect a lot, when it happened with another torch the answer was basically that these things happen and get a flashback arrestor. No sky is falling there..

I know Deb personally, and we have spoken on this issue several times. I respectfully disagree with her position, but it is HER decision. At the very least she recognizes the danger of keeping the tank inside and works only outside (which reduces her risk by a HUGE factor). There are a couple of points I would like to make about what she’s written.

Can a hose issue happen to anyone? Of course it can!! But the difference is the amount of pressure being pushed through the hose. On a minor or bobcat, the average line pressure is 5 PSI, plus or minus a bit. On a HotHead, the pressure is 120 PSI, 24 TIMES higher. The average 20# tank would empty itself out in the course of several minutes at 120 PSI, whereas it would take the better part of a day at 5 PSI.

The LEL (explosive level) for propane is 2.1%. Propane liquid converts to vapor at the rate of 1 to 36 – meaning that each gallon of liquid propane results in 36 cubic feet of vapor. A 20# propane tank contains approximately 170 cubic feet of propane vapor. If you are working in an 8′ by 8′ room with an 8′ ceiling, you have 512 cubic feet of air in that room. It would only take 10.752 cubic feet of propane vapor for the room to reach explosive limits. 10.75 cubic feet from a tank that contains 170 cubic feet — that’s only 6% of the tank!!!

And you gotta love Dennis Brady:

There’s a huge difference between telling somebody that a practice is prohibited and telling them it’s dangerous. Each person should be provided with the information and left to do their own risk assessment and to make their own decision as to whether or not they’ll accept the risk.

I would expect that for every person running a hot head with mini tanks there are a hundred running one with a hose to a bulk tank. If so many people are doing this dangerous deed, why aren’t we hearing more about “Darwin award nominees”? Could it be because the risk factor is no greater then running a hose from a bulk tank to a torch?

Maybe we should just tell folks that in order to really be safe, they should just sit and admire their torch but never light it?

The problem with this kind of attitude is the “it’s going to happen to someone else, not me.” Like the risks of getting hit by lightening, variously reported as 1:40,000 (and higher)…well, let me tell you, if you are that one person, those statistics are meaningless.

It comes down to whether or not you are willing to follow the NFPA rules which have been adopted by all 50 US States. Dennis Brady doesn’t give a damn if you follow the NFPA rules because he lives up in Canada where the rules are different. He can sit up there and make all his ivory tower pronouncements and nothing can be done about it EXCEPT call him on each and every one. People in the US are required to follow the NFPA rules just as they are required to follow the state laws on driving. They are exactly the same. Do you drive the speed you want to drive? Of course not. You drive the posted speed limit because if you don’t you know you will get a speeding ticket that could be quite expensive, and if you get enough of them, your insurance goes up and you could lose your license.

The NFPA rules are handled differently, but the end result is essentially the same: you violate the rules AT YOUR RISK. What is that risk? You won’t get a ticket, but if the worst happens, you will burn down your house, possibly injuring someone or even killing someone. Then, to add insult to injury, it is most likely that your insurance company will not cover your losses from the incident. You will have to pay the mortgage company for the house out of your own pocket, and pay for the injuries of those hurt, and face lawsuits if anyone was killed.

Yes, you can certainly ignore the NFPA rules. No one is going to stop you. But doing it because everyone else is doing it is absolutely the wrong reason. As part of your risk assessment, be sure you take into the account the amount of money you will be personally responsible for if the worst happens. Can you afford it? If the answer is no, then do not ignore the NFPA rules.


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