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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-91-099
Details
Synopsis: ABOUT 0915 MOUNTAIN STANDARD TIME, ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1990, A FIRE ERUPTED AT A FUEL STORAGE AND DISPENSING FACILITY ABOUT 1.8 MILES FROM THE MAIN TERMINAL OF STAPLETON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AT DENVER, COLORADO. THE FACILITY, REFERRED TO AS A FUEL FARM, WAS OWNED BY UNITED AIRLINES AND CONTINENTAL AIRLINES. UNITED AIRLINES' PORTION OF THE FUEL FARM WAS OPERATED AND MAINTAINED BY AMR COMBS. FROM THE TIME FIREFIGHTING EFFORTS WERE INITIATED IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE FIRE ERUPTED UNTIL THE FIRE WAS EXTINGUISHED, A TOTAL OF 634 FIREFIGHTERS, 47 FIRE UNITS, AND 4 CONTRACT PERSONNEL EXPENDED 56 MILLION GALLONS OF WATER AND 28,000 GALLONS OF WATER AND 28,000 GALLONS OF FOAM CONCENTRATE. THE FIRE BURNED FOR ABOUT 48 HOURS. OF THE 5,185,000 GALLONS OF FUEL STORED IN TANKS AT THE FARM BEFORE THE FIRE, ABOUT 3 MILLION GALLONS WERE EITHER CONSUMED BY THE FIRE OR LOST AS A RESULT OF LEAKAGE FROM THE TANKS. TOTAL DAMAGE WAS ESTIMATED BY UNITED AIRLINES TO HAVE BEEN BETWEEN $15 AND $20 MILLION. NO INJURIES OR FATALITIES OCCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE FIRE.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: EXAMINE THE FEASIBILITY OF MANDATING THE USE OF TEMPERATURE AND VIBRATION MONITORING AND SHUTDOWN EQUIPMENT ON ALL FUEL PUMPING SYSTEMS LOCATED ON THE PROPERTY OF CERTIFICATED AIRPORTS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: Denver, CO, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA91FZ001
Accident Reports: Fuel Farm at Stapleton International Airport
Report #: AAR-91-07
Accident Date: 11/25/1990
Issue Date: 10/9/1991
Date Closed: 1/26/1993
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 1/26/1993
Response: BECAUSE THE FAA HAS CONTACTED ALL PART 139 CERTIFICATE HOLDERS REGARDING THE SUBJECT OF THESE RECOMMENDATIONS, THE BOARD IS PLACING RECOMMENDATIONS A-91-97 THROUGH -99 IN A "CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION" STATUS. ALTHOUGH WE HAVE CLOSED THESE RECOMMENDATIONS, WE WOULD APPRECIATE BEING INFORMED OF ANY RESPONSE YOU RECEIVE FROM YOUR MAY 6, 1992, LETTER TO ALL PART 139 CERTIFICATE HOLDERS.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/18/1992
Response: As previously stated, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not agree with these safety recommendations. Fuel farm facilities built on airports are constructed in accordance with the applicable state and local codes. These codes are usually based upon or incorporate by reference the design standards developed by the American Petroleum Institute and the fire safety standards promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association in addition to any other requirements that the governing jurisdiction may impose. The FAA believes that the public is best served by allowing the design of fuel storage facilities to be governed by state and local codes which reflect industry standards. On May 6, 1992, the FAA sent a letter to all 14 CFR Part 139 certificate holders encouraging them to inspect on-airport fuel facilities with appropriate engineer and fire inspection staffs to determine what additional fuel storage and dispensing safety devices should be installed and to make necessary procedural changes. However, the FAA does not plan to track the changes made by the individual airports as requested by the Safety Board. I have enclosed a copy of the FAA's letter to the certificate holders for the Board's information. I consider the FAA's action to be completed on these safety recommendations, and I plan no further action.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 2/4/1992
Response: Safety Recommendation A-91-97 urged the FAA to require the installation of fail-safe valves and fire valves on above-ground storage tanks. Safety Recommendation A-91-98 asked the FAA to require placing an emergency shutoff switch and recording equipment outside of fuel spill containment areas. In Safety Recommendation A-91-99, the Board urged the FAA to examine the feasibility of mandating the use of temperature and vibration monitoring and shutdown equipment on all fuel pumping systems on property of certificated airports. In response to these three recommendations, the FAA stated that fuel storage facility design and safety issues are best left up to the experts that design fuel storage facilities and to the State and local codes that reflect industry standards. Further, the FAA stated that this "historical policy" has resulted in the safe and efficient design and operation of fuel farm facilities. The Safety Board concluded from its investigation that if these safety features had been in place at the time of the equipment failure, this major fire and loss of fuel and equipment would have been very minor. Further, the design experts to whom you have referred have totally redesigned the new fuel farm at Denver's new airport subsequent to the fire because they did not foresee the consequences of this type of equipment failure. The safety devices suggested in these recommendations are state-of-the-art and their incorporation in all above ground fuel storage facilities on certificated airport property would enhance the safety of these facilities. However, the Safety Board agrees that decisions to incorporate such devices may be made more appropriately by qualified personnel after an analysis of each facility. Therefore, your response that the safety devices identified in the recommendations should be brought to the attention of the airport operators, and that each operator should be required to inspect on-airport fuel facilities with the appropriate engineer and fire inspector to determine what additional safety devices need to be installed, is an acceptable alternative to our requested action. Based on this action, Safety Recommendations A-91-97, -98, and - 99 are being held in an "Open--Acceptable Alternate Response" status. The Board requests that you keep us informed of the progress on this alternate action and that the response of the certificate holder to the required safety review be transmitted to the Safety Board.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/23/1991
Response: Fuel farm facilities built on airports are constructed in accordance with the applicable state and local codes. These codes are usually based upon or incorporate by reference the design standards developed by the American Petroleum Institute and the fire safety standards promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in addition to any other requirements that the governing jurisdiction may impose. The design of fuel farms is a highly specialized discipline. For example, only four or five companies are involved in the design of aviation fuel farms. These companies incorporate state-of-the-art safety devices in their designs of fuel facilities and need to be given the latitude to change safety devices based upon the most current practices and in consideration of any unique features that would pertain to the individual facility being designed. To impose a requirement for airport operators to install internal valves with fusible links or vibration monitoring equipment fails to consider the fuel farm as a system. Requiring a particular device to be installed may preclude other devices that are more effective from being included in the system. The FAA believes that the public is best served by allowing the design of fuel storage facilities to be governed by state and local codes which reflect industry standards. Historically, this policy has resulted in the safe and efficient design and operation of fuel farm facilities and places the responsibility for adopting codes on state and local entities which, in turn, rely on organizations such as the NFPA that have the demonstrated capability and experience in these areas. For this reason, the FAA has never developed the specialized expertise that is required in this area. This is analogous to the FAA position on the design of airfield terminal buildings. In the design of terminal electrical systems, fire systems, heating and air conditioning systems, and mechanical systems, the airport operator must comply with state and local codes--not FAA standards. In turn, these codes rely on national codes which have developed by agencies such as the NFPA through a process involving a consensus of the nation's leading experts. The FAA does not believe that airport operators should be required to make the modifications referenced in these safety recommendations. While the modifications may be justified on a case-bycase basis, it is more appropriate that the decision be made by qualified personnel after an analysis of each system design. Therefore, the FAA will contact each certificated airport and provide a copy of Safety Recommendations A-91-95 through -99. Each airport authority will be asked to inspect on-airport fuel facilities with the appropriate engineer and fire inspection staffs to determine what additional safety devices or procedures should be installed. It will be recommended that the airport authority seek outside expertise if there is any doubt about the safety of the facility. I plan no further action on these safety recommendations.