to avoid steam entry. Also consider
protecting occupants in place.
• Check buildings for anyone who is
unable to evacuate.
• Monitor the area and buildings for
• Check the subway and underground
railways and roadways for damage and
Pipe Rupture in a Building
An HP steam pipe rupture in a building can release scalding steam at high
pressures, quickly causing death and injury to nearby occupants. In an incident
in a New York City high-rise building,
seven people were scalded to death at
their desks when an HP steam pipe in
the wall ruptured. In another, firefighters
responding to an incident at a New York
City hospital were unable to enter a room
to vent it because of the extreme heat
caused by a burst HP steam pipe.
A utility may not supply the steam to
the building; many buildings use private
steam-generating plants. Even when
the utility supplies the steam, once the
steam enters the building, building personnel are typically responsible for the
maintenance and control of the system.
In such instances, consider calling the
steam utility for advice on how to handle
When responding to end-user emergencies in structures, you must again
consider asbestos, as it was once commonly used to insulate pipes. Consider
decontamination of exposed firefighters,
gear, tools, and civilians.
A building supplied with HP steam
will have a valve room that contains the
controls for the structure’s supply. It is
not usually a safe practice for firefighters
to shut an HP steam valve, and it is never
A response to an HP
steam incident is not one
that you want to attempt
without prior planning—
find out if such a response
might be in your future.