"Diesel" heater - safe fuel type?
We have been donated a Kaminx KFA-170TGDP heater unit (manual in German, google translate of manual but without pictures: portable heat cannon kaminx kfa-170t google translate.pdf).
Label on device:
This is a transit area ('bus stop') in Lesvos, where refugees who have just landed await transport by 4x4 up a steep hill before being picked up by an MSF bus. Two large tents, people currently spend up to 20minutes here but may be several hours (and in worst case overnight) if we're busier later in the year.
We remain unclear as to what fuel is appropriate. Kerosene seems to be difficult to acquire, with local petrol stations saying nearest source is 1hr drive away.
We don't know what "No. 1 Fuel Oil" is. The translate of the manual also refers to this as "diesel" but we are concerned about pollutants (sulfur?), CO, oxygen levels in the tent etc. We can ventilate the tents but still unsure if this would be adequate.
To be clear, it is the exhaust of the fuel combustion process that is blown directly in to our tents (ie the only exhaust of the device is hot air that people will breathe in).
Does anyone have experience with these units and is able advise on which fuel is required for safe operation?
Many thanks, Anton Zhyzhyn Coordination Korakas team
These ‘dragon’ type space heaters are very efficient in their combustion and very good at heating large volumes.
However, there are a couple of things that must be borne in mind when using them in semi-confined areas.
There must be adequate ventilation to allow complete combustion of the diesel fuel. Failure to allow enough ventilation could cause the unit to produce poisonous carbon monoxide.
The by-products of combustion of hydrocarbon fuels are carbon dioxide and water vapour. If using a ‘dragon’ space heater in a tent or other structure with cold walls and ceiling, especially if you have lots of wet people inside, you may well find large amounts of condensate on the inside of the tent dripping onto the occupants. Good ventilation will combat this but also allow warm air to escape.
The modern low-sulphur diesel fuel should not produce harmful emissions for the occupants of the tent, in the short term.
Be very careful in a crowded space to ensure children or flammable materials do not get too close to the space heater. The prospect of a fire in that confined space doesn’t bear thinking about.
I have been training volunteers on Lesvos to combat hypothermia. The most important things are to get people out of wet clothes and into dry ones at the first opportunity. Once dry, if you give people warm sweet drinks, unless they are severely hypothermic, they will recover without further warming input. If necessary use heat pads to gently warm the core of the body, not the hands and feet. Pads are best placed under the armpits or against the abdomen tucked under the belt.
In the end, I asked MSF (at Mantamados) about these heaters. They advised me that we should not use these heaters inside tents at all, noting that their 'proper' heaters exhaust the combustion byproducts to atmosphere and blow only clean air in to the tent.
Besides, the exhaust of the heater did smell strongly, I think of sulfur...
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