It was a routine Friday afternoon; braai fire ready for the first steaks, the ‘senior’ technician (let’s call him Idiom – short for being an idiot and moron) had already finished three double brandy and cokes as was quite busy with his fourth.

The ‘junior’ technicians had just applied developer to the inner surface of one of the inner compartments of an aviation fuel bowser tank which had been previously reported as having a leak. Penetrant had been applied internally the day before with the bleed through technique being utilised and the result was external bleedout on the top of one of the support straps.

The techs informed Idiom that they were unable to find the cracks in the bowser tank shell (they had selected the wrong compartment). Idiom decided to climb into the tank himself in order to correct the error of the techs by showing them where the actual indications were situated.

While spraying developer, Idiom noticed amongst the mist that the techs were wearing respirators. After berating the techs about not working properly and missing important indications, Idiom climbed out of the tank into fresh air. He soon realised that he was not well – the fumes had caused him to start flying albeit without any wings. He had to sit on top of the tank for more than half an hour until his bobble head cleared and being able to climb down.

Image 1 for fumes for fools 2 here

  • This was obviously quite hilarious for the other techs and Idiom learnt an important lesson that day:
  • Refrain from being ‘windgat’ especially when you’re supposed to be an example to other techs and are in a managerial position
  • Alcohol and NDT don’t mix
  • It is advisable to wear a good respirator while working with chemicals in confined spaces.

Keith Cain