• Region II

Water Heater Safety


Yesterday was the 39th anniversary of the January 19, 1982 explosion at the Star Elementary School in Spencer, Oklahoma. Shortly after noon that day, an 80-gallon water heater exploded and destroyed the concrete wall that separated the kitchen from the lunchroom. Six children and a teacher were killed by the blast. More than 30 students and adults were injured. Root causes of the explosion included improper maintenance practices and defective replacement parts.

Reference: https://oklahoman.com/article/2779122/star-elementary-20-years-later-heater-explosion-still-haunts-spencer

This video of the event was produced by the Arkansas Department of Labor Boiler Inspection Division: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKYx3ayvDME


Many of our VPP sites have residential-sized water heaters. The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors has posted residential water heater safety information online, even though residential water heaters are not typically part of their members’ jurisdictional responsibilities. Please consider sharing this information with your coworkers and contractors (link provided below). It may help prevent another tragedy.

https://www.nationalboard.org/index.aspx?pageID=164&ID=247


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VPPPA Region 2

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