Tuesday 22 September 2015


The Institute can be exciting if you make the effort.  My Human Physiology class meets of Tuesday lunchtime on the outer reaches of the campus in the stand of the GAA pitch which has a number of classrooms in the back over the t'ilets and changing rooms. They were complaining that their timetable didn't allow for lunch, I countered with the fact that you get two walks in the sunshine to get to class.  On the way back to base, I caught the tail-end of the visit of the local fire-brigade to Campus with two fire-trucks, the County Fire-Safety Officer FSO and a load of kit.  They have a little trailer than opens up at the back to demonstrate various fires and how to put them out. As I approached, there was a saucepan of oil burning away.  One of the fire-fighters dressed up with face-mask and fire-retardant hood approached the pan with a half-cupful of water on the end of a very long stick.  Tip it over and WHOOOMMPH! it's a BLEVE [boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion] as the water sinks to the bottom and vaporises to fling the over-burden of boiling oil up and out. It only lasted a fraction of a second but it would have filled half our modest kitchen . . . and the fire was not extinguished,  So they could give the demo another go round.  Until you've been there, you can't quite believe what happens.

Afterwards, I chatted for a while with the young FSO about whether I'd missed anything else interesting because they had examples of the jaws-of-life for forcing crushed cars apart to abstract the humanity within. They do those car-cutting demonstrations, but not today. I was glad that about 20 students had seen the BLEVE, and others had seen earlier examples during the day: they won't hold the chip-pan under the kitchen tap. I was on about BLEVEs in June with the SloMo guys filming it in its roaring detail.  It's not quite the same without feeling the heat at a distance of 6 m.

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