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Foam Extinguishers Upon The Old Miss

Aug 6, 2008
If Huck Finn and Jim had thought to carry foam extinguishers with them in their classic flight down the Mississippi, they might well have had an easier time of everything. That's what Disneyland employees learned one morning when a raft on their classic "Tom Sawyer Island" attraction burst into flames.

It's a well-known urban legend that no one has ever died at Disneyland. The legend is borne out by some degree of fact: according to Walt Disney's posthumous wishes, no one can legally be declared dead within the park's limits. The bodies of injured tourists need to be moved outside of the standard park boundaries before a doctor is allowed to issue a death certificate. It's an arcane policy, and one that has exposed the Disney empire to no small measure of ridicule. But it's one that suddenly became a major source of concern when fires threatened to claim the lives of waiting tourists one hot summer.

The Tom Sawyer fire wasn't the first problem the aging park had faced on that fateful weekend, either. On the day in question, the Haunted Mansion ride had been shut down due to a child becoming seriously injured on one of the "Doom Cars" that shuttle tourists through the ghoulish maze. The ride was closed until further notice, and the park's safety personnel were on high alert, keeping visitors from using any of the major attractions until their safety could be totally ascertained.

On the day in question, the Tom Sawyer Island ride had generated lines around the block, lines full of angry visitors waiting to get in. It was already eleven o'clock, well after the ride's nine o'clock opening time. But one of the rafts was refusing to start, and safety officials refused to let anyone in until everything checked out.

Which turned out to be an excellent decision when park workers noticed smoke pouring out of the engine compartment of the raft. Opening the latch, the simulated Mississippi river was suddenly stained red with raging flames.

While visitors gaped, quick-thinking park workers went into action. Extinguishers were gathered and emptied onto the ailing vehicle and over the surface of the river. White foam floated on past the bucolic scenes of Twain's masterpiece while the raft, which burst into flame additional times before the blaze could finally be contained, was slowly towed back to a maintenance bay at the Hungry Bear docks. According to some onlookers, the raft was leaking oil all the way--oil that was never contained.

The line of visitors had long since dispersed.

It's a surreal scene, as many scenes and legends involving Disney are. But it could have been more than surreal, were it not for the on-the-ball staff and their foam extinguishers. Disney's policy on death within park grounds could well have been put to an ultimate, tragic test.
About the Author
From car size to industrial use, foam fire extinguishers with specifications and details are available at www.FireProtectionOnline.co.uk
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