A few years ago, ISI was called on to perform tests and a forensic investigation on a device named “The Giant Destroyer.” This rodent control product was involved in the case of a fire that occurred at a banquet and conference hall in Ottawa, Canada. We were hired by the injured party’s law firm to determine whether Giant Destroyer was combustible, if it emitted a flame during its regular operation, and if it had the potential to cause the fire that damaged the building.
In order to answer these questions, ISI started with a chemical analysis of the contents of The Giant Destroyer. We discovered the cartridge contained high levels of sodium nitrate and sulphur, along with lower levels of carbon and inert materials. As we explained in our report, the concentration of these ingredients means that Giant Destroyer falls under the classification of Black Powder, which is well known for its vigorous flammability. ISI concluded that, even though Giant Destroyer describes itself as “The Effective Gas Killer,” without vigorous combustion would fail to be an effective rodent killer since it needs a high rate of burn to release the poisonous gas to kill the gophers and other animals.
ISI then performed two days of forensic testing to determine the rate of burn of Giant Destroyer and its potential to ignite surrounding combustible materials. Over the days of testing, we lit a total of fifty-one cartridges in several different conditions and observed their flame level, burn time, and the reaction of surrounding materials. We found that Giant Destroyer emitted a flame of 15 to 30 cm in length, had an average burn time of about two and a half minutes, and spit balls of molten sulphur that travelled as much as 30 cm. The flame reached a temperature of 1250°F. It was observed that The Giant Destroyer set fire to combustibles such as small pieces wood trim and significantly charred the larger piece of wood that it was attached to.
Upon ISI’s request, a forensic engineer and one of North America’s top fire investigation experts attended the testing and concluded that The Giant Destroyer’s flame temperature was well above the 410o F ignition temperature of wood. He further asserted that the use of the rodent killer to deal with an infestation under the building structure was an unsafe use of the product and that there was a high probability that the flame from the canister caused the fire. ISI’s report was submitted as a part of the injured party’s court case. This case was not ruled on due to a technicality. Unfortunately, the original owner and inventor of the flares passed away shortly before the case came to trail. Since he could not be cross-examined, his previous statements concerning the safety of his product were not admissible.
Giant Destroyer recently came up in the media, with CBC News in Manitoba reporting on Winnipeg’s use of the product to deal with gophers in the city’s parks and facilities. The concern of the CBC article is that the poisonous gas poses a threat to resident’s pets. The canister contents, high burning temperature, use and label warnings remain unchanged from the time of the time of ISI’s forensic work.