water heater fire, gas hot water heater fires,  water heater lawsuit, water heater burns ,gas hot water,gas explosion fires, water heater explosion,cpsc,government, personal injury lawyer, personal injury attorney, recall, gas hot water heater lawsuit, children ,burn, gasoline fumes, paint thinnner, vapors,  explodes, attorney, abogado, law firm, rheem,gas,bradford, american, a.o. smith, ao smith, a o smith, reliance, on demand, richmond, atwood, rudd, sears, surburban, aquastar, ariston,  john wood, ge,  state, propane, butane, natural gas, white, bradford white,Hot Water Heater Fires Overview:

Every single day in American, someone is seriously burned or is killed as a result of ignition and explosion of flammable vapors by the flame or pilot light of a gas-fired water heater. This shocking statistic is also well known by the water heater manufacturers and the natural gas suppliers, but to date the problem still exists.

Gas Hot Water Heater Explosions- The Problem

The problem is that flammable liquids (gasoline, paint thinner, adhesives, contact cement and other petroleum products) give off flammable vapors and many times, these are found in the close proximity of a gas-fired water heater. This type of gas hot water heater works on the principle that it draws its air from a location only (2) inches from the floor (see exhibit A). The air is then drawn into the base of the heater where it passes directly over a pilot light flame, and since the vapors from flammable liquids are heavier than air, they sink or collect or puddle within several inches of the floor too. As a result, a flammable liquid either spilled on the floor or emitting vapors even 10 or more feet away can ignite and explode. The problem is enhanced when the water heater’s gas burner has been ignited and it’s heating the water. This in and effect sucks or draws air vapors from a much greater distance. 

Unfortunately, the location of most gas fired hot water heaters is the same rooms where many flammable liquids also are stored or used. These include utility rooms, basements, shops, garages, pantry, kitchens and bathrooms.

Water Heater Industry Knowledge of Fires & Burns

Since the early 1970’s the problems with ignition of flammable vapors by a gas hot water heater has been a well known and studied industry and government researchers. In fact, in 1971 the secretary of HEW in their annual report noted that a significant number of accidental burns resulted from ignition of vapor by a water heater. Then in July 1975 the Calspan report prepared for the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) stated:

"In terms of frequency and severity of injury, the accidental ignition of vapors hazard associated with the mere presence of the appliances considered in this study. The activity involved at the time of the injurywas nearly always unrelated to the use of the appliance itself. Adult victims generally realized that the liquid they were working with was flammable, but were totally unappreciative of the distance the vaporsc could travel and ignite. Child victims were usually imitating, their adult behavior. e.g., a toy. Gasoline was by far the most common liquid involved. This would be expected both from availability and its hazardous properties."

The Calspan study also involved the investigation of other flame-fired including clothes dryers and gas ranges, but of these appliances, the gas water heater because of its design is the culprit in most of the burn cases. The physically lower the location of the flame, the greater the anticipated hazard with respect to ignition of flammable vapors. The Calspan report clearly points out that the gas-water heater industry had knowledge of this danger and failed to take reasonable steps to solving the problem

How to Prevent Gas Hot Water Fires, Burns & Explosions

The cure is not only as easy but it is inexpensive. as discussed earlier, the problem results from the heave flammable vapor being puddled or sinking to the floor within the first several inches off the floor. Therefore, the cure is easy, raise the flame. Take the air from a location well above the heavy flammable vapors on the floor.

With this simple solution to this dangerous problem, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopted a requirement that gas-fired water heaters be installed at least eighteen (18) inches above the floor. Whether in garages, or residencies. Another solution to this problem is setting the water heater on a stand (18+ inches tall)

These stands have been available for sale by manufacturers for years, but the sales are hampered as most water heater distributors DO NOT STOCK them and many sales persons do not even know the stands existed, much less their purpose.

Effectiveness of Raising the Gas Fired Water Heater

After a water heater is put on top a wate
r heater stand or installed 18" inches above the floor, most causes of ignition of flammable vapors are quickly eliminated all for the cost of less than $20.00.

Products Liability Lawsuit- Water Heater Fires & Burns

A) Potential Water Heater Defendants

1) Gas-fired Water Heater Manufacturers
2) Local Natural Gas, Butane or Propane Supplier
3) Installer of the Gas-Water Heater
4) Owner of house, apartment or garage 
5) Others as Facts Required

B) Potential Areas of Litigation

1) Defective Design of Water Heater
2) Failure to Warn of Hazards (see warning)
3) Failure to Eliminate Hazard
4) Failure to sell or install each Water Heater without a stand kit

C) Damages (past & future)

1) Pain & Suffering to Burn Victim
2) Disfigurement
3) Impairment
4) Medical Bills
5) Loss of Enjoyment of Life
6) Loss of Income or Earning Capacity
7) Punitive Damages against the appropriate defendants for intentionally and recklessly ignoring the damages of water heaters and NOT FIXING THE PROBLEM!!

D) Potential Causes of Action

1) Defective/Dangerous Design of Water Heater against manufacturer
2) Failure to Warn of Dangers of Ignition of Flammable Vapors
3) Failure to Eliminate Hazard of Ignition
4) Failure to raise the Flame Level of the Pilot Light or Burner

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