If the dear departed was a fatty, you should stay well away from the crematorium

Dunno if Parekura Horomia or Gerry Brownlee are planning to be cremated, when they leave the land of the living and head for the Great Debating Chamber in the Sky.

If they do, Alf will politely excuse himself from any ceremony at the crematorium.

He is mindful that fat is extremely flammable and that Parekura and Gerry are – ahem – a tad chubby.

He appreciates that the human body normally doesn’t carry enough fat to be a problem during cremation but (according to a Herald-Sun report he found here)

A DEVASTATING fire which gutted a crematorium in southern Austria was caused by an obese woman’s excessive body fat blocking an air filter, Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported.

This news isn’t exactly fresh – the fire occurred at the facility in the city of Graz in mid-April.

It seems firefighters had trouble extinguishing the blaze due to a thick layer of insulation lining the crematorium’s walls.

Austrian officials investigating the fire found that it was caused by the burning body of the 200kg woman.

The obese corpse reportedly led to overheating in the crematorium’s filter system, triggering the blaze.

Other recent fires caused by the burning of obese bodies were reported in Germany and Switzerland.

The answer to this further complication, as more and more of us become obese, is to build bigger and better facilities.

Former Graz city fire chief Otto Widetschek said special crematoria for obese people should be set up in Austria to deal with the potential dangers of cremating obese bodies.

“In Switzerland, there is now a special crematorium for XXL-bodies,” he told ORF earlier this week.

A bit more detail from the Graz incident was reported by the Christian Post here.

According to reports, the unidentified woman’s body weighted 440 pounds, which meant that there was an abundance of body fat. The crematorium, which was not equipped to handle the large body, went up in flames after reaching 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Daily Mail tells us (here) that firefighters who responded to the fire in Graz had to wear special equipment to be able to work at the crematorium.

Firemen whose clothing was left covered with a layer of greasy black soot were snapped as they tackled the difficult to extinguish blaze in special breathing gear to avoid breathing in the fumes.

In the end they had to bring the fire under control by sending a blast of water in through the vents used to clear the filter. Repair work took several days during which time the crematorium was out of action.

Firemen said that after reports of similar problems at other cemeteries not only in Austria but also in Switzerland, officials were now are considering a ban on larger bodies.

Dunno what’s happening in this country.

But Alf recalls news of a crematorium in Britain building a super-sized incinerator to cater for obese people.

Taxpayers are funding a £145,000 furnace that can burn coffins up to 41in wide at Cambridge City Crematorium.

Staff have increasingly had to turn grieving families away because their deceased relatives were too large to fit in the current machines.

The incinerators were being widened to fit 43in coffins

So what exactly happens to the dear departed during cremation?

Mrs Grumble got the answer here.

The item quotes from a book, The Chemistry of Death, in which the author describes the cremation process “with the detached air of the true scientist”.

Alf will spare you the details.

It’s enough to note that 45 minutes to an hour is generally sufficient to consume a body, though obese corpses may take 90 minutes or more.

Once the ashes cool, they’re crushed by a machine into three to four pounds of coarse white powder (more for big folks).

The idea of being reduced to three to four pounds of coarse white powder doesn’t appeal to Alf.

There’s the obvious risk that some tosser might burgle the Grumble home, find the white powder on the mantelpiece and – who knows? – perhaps try snorting the stuff.

Alf doesn’t mind getting up people’s noses. But not like that.

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