ICS/NIMS training mission to Africa

I recently had the opportunity to conduct some emergency training in Africa. I had conducted training with this group once before, instructing a collapse course in South Africa with a touch of firefighter rescue thrown in; although the main focus of their training is generally the management of major incidents.  The USDA Forest Service (USFS) along with USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has conducted this training in several African Countries since 2009.  Initially the program was primarily focused on fighting forest fires. However as the program has evolved it has expanded to an all-hazard approach and is focusing on All Hazard National Incident Management System (NIMS) rather than only the Incident Command Systems (ICS).    The FDNY and the USFS had worked extensively together during operations following the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), with the USFS assisting with incident management. This was to be the first...
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Handling ideas not invented here

This article was motivated by a recent Facebook post showing an elevated platform capable of reaching heights over 360 feet (110 meters). Most of the comments centered around the impracticality of it, including some downright negative opinions. Although I know of no US fire departments operating platforms anywhere near this height, taller platforms (not necessarily this tall) are common outside the United States. My thoughts about this are coupled with some personal experiences with fitness coaches where one would think the advice of another was the most ridiculous thing in the world. Being able to accept other ways of thinking can lead to better overall fire protection and unique solutions to unforeseen challenges. This was written a few days after Texas firefighters used the stream from a jet boat to extinguish a house fire that was inaccessible any other way due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Other examples I...
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Jack Frost nipping at your extremities

It began as a normal day except Hank’s alarm didn’t go off and he was running late. He layered himself for the storm conditions, picked up his hat and gloves and rushed out the door.  Working for the State Highway department, his focus for the day – moving pristine white snow from the roads.  When moving massive amounts of snow he hit something under the snow.  It stopped the truck which forced him out of the truck to inspect for damage and remove what was blocking his path.   Digging out the snow around the truck took longer than expected.  He thought to radio for help, but this truck was a backup and without a radio.  His cell phone would not dial out as he was located in a low spot that didn’t allow him to dial out.  So, he buckled down and began to dig again, but his hands became...
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Texas VFD confronts uncertain silo situation

Making a proper on-scene assessment of a silo fire that forced an evacuation around a Texas grain mill in September 2017 proved awkward, said Easterly Fire Chief Jim Redden. An auger opening at the base of a 120-foot-tall, 24-foot-diameter storage silo was the only access to the intense flames roaring inside. “Everybody thought the fire was in the very bottom,” Redden said. “But I could see smoke venting from the top of the silo. If the fire was buried under 35 feet of corn you shouldn’t be seeing that smoke.” All that corn encased within eight-inch concrete walls made it difficult for thermal imaging to detect where the bulk of the fire lay, he said. Despite feeding a continuous stream of water into the silo, Redden became increasingly worried about the potential for a grain dust explosion. Grain dust is a highly explosive substance that must be handled carefully. In 1977,...
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Seven ways to leverage relationships with local municipal fire responders

Industrial firefighting isn’t like municipal response; The environments, site-specific hazards, facilities, and access are unlike most municipal response.  There are different rules, personnel, business priorities, and equipment that are specific to industrial firefighting that can be challenging for local municipal responders should an incident occur. So regardless of whether your plant has its own fire brigade, planning ahead and establishing relationships with your local fire departments before an incident occurs may eliminate delays, and overcome challenges and barriers when responding to an industrial fire alarm.   Fire Brigade Standards Before getting into the specifics of creating alliances with local responders, it’s important to know and understand the standards and best practices governing employer-established fire brigades. Both the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and also the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) have specific standards. OSHA Standard 1910.156 establishes the requirements for policies, training, equipment, and personal protective...
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Apparatus makers participate in Hellfighter U foam training

A recently sold Sutphen SAI-110-foot aerial was only one of four industrial fire apparatus utilized in live-fire training scenarios in December during the Hellfighter U foam fire school at Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas. The original game plan was to use the aerial to rescue a fallen firefighter from one of the higher elevations of Brayton’s chemical complex, a full-scale, live-fire simulation of an emergency in a multi-level industrial structure, said Jim Kirvida, factory representative for Wisconsin-based Custom Fire. “We were going to rescue the little dummy made up from hose lines and old bunker gear,” he said. “ Making the situation even more dramatic, the training was done at night. Unfortunately, what Kirvida arrived with was a “straight stick” aerial with no platform at the end.  “You can do rescues using an aerial without a platform but it takes more equipment than was immediately available,” Kirvida said. Plans were...
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An extinguished flame

“Do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light” Dylan Thomas   It’s hard to believe that any facility as akin to fire and fury as the Beaumont Emergency Safety Training complex could fade away more gently. A cursory search of Beaumont news sites notes not one word about the death of this historic fire training school. Granted, the city suffered a stunning blow from a hurricane so nasty its name was an immediate candidate for official retirement, al la Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Sandy. But I image if a city landmark such as the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum remained closed so many months later it might grab somebody’s attention. Maybe it stands disregarded because the place was inundated rather than demolished. Squatting next to Interstate 10, the BEST complex is free of wreckage, almost pristine, with nothing visible from a distance to suggest it...
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US Fire Pump flow reaches 30,000 gpm

Had it not been for the mighty Mississippi nearby, the flow demonstration that highlighted the US Fire Pump’s Big Water Symposium in November might have qualified as the biggest movement of water in Baton Rouge history.   An array of pumps, hose and monitors surrounding the testing pond at the Louisiana State University’s Fire and Emergency Training Institute delivered a combined flow rate of 30,000 gallons per minute, said John Snyder, fire specialist with US Fire Pump.   “That was accomplished with only seven pieces of equipment, not counting the guns themselves,” Snyder said.   USFP equipment utilized included two mobile pump units, three hydraulic submersible units, an Emergency Response Aquatic Deployment System, a Remote-Control Track Monitor, a Deluge apparatus and multiple monitor units.   “We wanted to bring a combination of everything to show a variety of flow from different devices,” Snyder said.   Nearly 20,000 gallons per minute of...
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Joe Gross, 99, entrepreneur and friend, passes away in Massachusetts

  Joseph H. Gross, owner of The Roberts Company mail order catalog and longtime supporter of Industrial Fire World, died Saturday at age 99. Services are set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, at Stanetsky Memorial Chapel in Canton, MA.   Gross, 99, of Framingham, MA, specialized in selling gifts and memorabilia designed to appeal to firefighters and law enforcement personnel. In 1984 he became the first merchant to purchase exhibit space for the inaugural Industrial Fire World Conference and Exposition. He remained a fixture in the exhibit hall throughout much of the event’s 27-year history, with booth number one reserved in his honor.   In 2001, as a memorial to his late wife Constance Gross, he founded the Connie Award, given annually to whoever had done the most in the preceding year to promote industrial emergency response behind the scenes. Gross also sponsored the annual Joe Gross Award celebrating important...
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More grain dust explosions reported nationwide in 2017

West Lafayette, IN - There were seven reported grain dust explosions at U.S. food and agricultural facilities in 2017, two more than in 2016 but still below the 10-year average of 9.3 explosions per year, according to an annual report issued by Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
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With cancer as leading cause of death for firefighters, new hazmat procedures aim to save lives

LONE TREE, Colo. -- When you think of firefighters working on a fire, you probably picture ash-covered uniforms with black soot caked on their faces.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
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Washington state OSHA issues draft PSM rule for refineries on the heels of new California rules

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) recently released a new draft safety rule that would increase existing Process Safety Management (PSM) requirements for petrochemical refining facilities in the state of Washington. The draft rule, which was released on January 16, 2018, arrives on the heels of California’s “PSM for Refineries” standard issued last fall and several years after an explosion with multiple fatalities at a refinery in Anacortes, Washington.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
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Darley Safe Water Solutions goes to Puerto Rico

    Itasca, IL February 2, 2018 – Key Fire Hose and W.S Darley & Company, leaders in the fire industry, announced today that they have successfully donated 1,840 Darley Safe Water Boxes to Puerto Rico through the organization United for Puerto Rico. Each box contains 2.64 gallons of Premium Drinking Water and provides a person 2-3 days of fresh drinking water.  Since the hurricane, locals have not had access to clean water, causing a nationwide crisis.  Key Fire Hose and Darley are doing whatever they can to help.  With their donation, they have provided over 600 people with fresh water.   “The ongoing struggle to obtain safe drinking water in Puerto Rico is something we cannot ignore,” said Burke Genthner, President of Key Fire Hose. “We are honored to work with United for Puerto Rico to help those in need of the most basic resource: water.”   In addition to...
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Drilling company, VFD jostle over fire service fee

Wheeling, WV - Accidents at Marcellus and Utica shale drilling pads can put a strain on the small volunteer fire departments assigned to cover the countryside.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
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CSB Will Investigate Fatal Well Explosion in Oklahoma

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board announced today that it will be moving forward with a full investigation into the fatal gas well explosion near Quinton, Oklahoma. The explosion fatally injured five workers. Upon notification of the incident, the CSB deployed two investigators to gather additional facts  to assist the Board in making  a decision regarding the scope of the investigation. Investigators arrived on site Wednesday morning and met with the lease holder for the well and the drilling operator.  CSB investigators will continue to meet with well service providers and the well site consultant company that had employees on site at the time of the incident. Evidence preservation and collection is the initial focus of the investigation.   The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency whose mission is to drive chemical safety change through independent investigations to protect people and the environment. The agency’s board members are appointed by the...
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2 Canadians indicted in 2012 Montana oil plant explosion

Billings, MT. — A federal grand jury has indicted two Canadians and an oil recycling company on criminal charges including conspiracy and endangerment in an explosion that injured three workers at an eastern Montana oil plant.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE
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Lac-Mégantic verdict: Not guilty

A jury of 12 Quebec citizens, after several days of deliberations that came very close to impasse, declined Jan. 19 to accept prosecutors’ contention that three Montreal, Maine & Atlantic employees were criminally responsible for the July 2013 runaway oil train calamity in the lakeside resort town of Lac-Mégantic that claimed 47 lives and destroyed the historic town’s downtown core.   To read the complete article, CLICK HERE .
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A proposal to ban modified hydrofluoric acid might change – or close – 2 oil refineries in Southern California

A potentially lethal chemical used at two Southern California oil refineries could be banned by regulators, a policy that refinery operators say could shutter their plants, cost hundreds of jobs and cause a spike in local gas and airfare prices.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
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Auxquimia pushes forward on C6 fluorine fire foam chemistry

  When foam is discussed at fire conferences worldwide talk about tighter regulations owing to environmental concern dominates. At least as much attention should be given to performance, said fire foam executive Javier Castro Bigotes.  “I’m not saying that the environment is not important, but so is performance,” Castro said. “This business is not only about making foam. It’s about extinguishing fires.” Javier Castro, general manager of Auxquimia Fire Fighting Products, addressed attendees at one such firefighting conference – the U.S. Fire Pump “Big Water” Symposium in November in Baton Rouge, LA. While introducing Castro, leading innovator in industrial firefighting Dwight Williams announced that he would be teaming with Auxquimia to produce a “signature” fire foam that will bear his name. “We got together and talked,” Williams said. “We have a product that is extremely close to everything I wanted.  The new product is scheduled to hit the market in January,...
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Dwight Williams announces partnership with Spanish manufacturer of fire foam

  When an entrepreneur leaves a business he has built over a lifetime, many things change. The market can get better or worse, said Dwight Williams, one of the highly regarded innovators in industrial firefighting today.   “It’s apparent to me that there is room for a foam manufacturer who makes a premiere product,” Williams told the audience at the U.S. Fire Pump “Big Water” Symposium in November In Baton Rouge.   Williams, who retired in 2012, announced from the podium his new partnership with Auxquimia Fire Fighting Products of Spain to introduce a “signature” brand to the firefighting foam market that will bear his name.   “That’s been my motto since 1969,” Williams said. “If you can’t put your name on it, don’t build it.”   He said he expects Auxquimia to have the new brand ready by January 17, his birthday.   Among the few details about the new...
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