Risk Assessment - Exterior insulation and finishing

Article originally published in the July-August 2009 issue of Industrial Fire World. Reposted in the wake of the Grenfell Towers disaster in London. To read part one of the series, CLICK HERE .   The first part of my article I went over some of the fires the systems were involved in, how the systems are fabricated, and the fire tests conducted on the systems. As discussed in previous articles, these systems may be used when industrial buildings need to blend in to the local community or when an attractive exterior is desired for freestanding office buildings at large industrial plants.     I would like to make an update in that article. I spoke with an investigator who visited the casino fire, who said that while the exact cause has not been determined, workers were welding a cat walk on the roof side of a parapet when the fire broke...
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CSB releases investigative update into catastrophic pressure vessel failure that killed 4

May 25, 2017, St. Louis, MO – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a “Factual Investigative Update” on the April 3, 2017, catastrophic rupture of a pressure vessel at the Loy Lange Box Company that killed four people and left another in critical condition.    The CSB’s ongoing examination of the incident has identified a history of leaks in the pressure vessel, which was part of a steam generation system. In 2012, the vessel was repaired when it was discovered that water was leaking from the bottom of its tank. In what was termed an “emergency repair,” a portion of the bottom of the tank was replaced with a custom made center section.    On Friday, March 31, 2017, employees again noticed a leak from the bottom of the vessel. Photos taken by the employees revealed leaks coming from at least two distinct sections of a 6-inch ring of original...
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Workplace safety and health regulation seeks to reduce risk of major incidents at California oil refineries

Oakland, CA - The  Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has approved new workplace safety and health regulations at oil refineries across the state intended to provide a framework for anticipating, preventing and responding to hazards at refineries. “This is the most protective regulation in the nation for the safety and health of refinery workers and surrounding communities,” said DIR Director Christine Baker. “This new regulation will ensure California’s oil refineries are operated with the highest levels of safety possible and with injury and illness prevention in mind.” The approved regulation introduces a new refinery safety order enforced by Cal/OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Unit, adding section 5189.1 to Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations. The elements outlined in the regulation require refinery employers to: • Conduct Damage Mechanism Reviews for processes that result in equipment or material degradation. Physical degradation, such as corrosion...
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CSB releases safety bulletin on 2015 chemical release and flash fire at Delaware factory

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its findings and a safety bulletin entitled "Key Lessons for Preventing Incidents when Preparing Process Equipment for Maintenance" resulting from a hydrocarbon release and fire that injured one worker at the Delaware City Refining Company in Delaware City, DE. CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, "More than a third of the incidents investigated by the CSB occurred during maintenance activities, ultimately resulting in 86 fatalities and 410 injuries." On November 29, 2015, alkylation unit operators at the Delaware City Refining Company, or DCRC, were preparing equipment for maintenance. Prior to performing the work, operators had to first drain and isolate a section of piping scheduled to be replaced by closing valves to block the flow of hydrocarbons into the piping. However, the operators learned that a valve on one side of the pipe isolation was leaking and therefore would not seal properly, which led...
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Shell fire school keeps Brayton training field busy

One fire training simulation at Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas in particular seemed to divide responders attending the Shell Oil Products and Motiva Enterprises corporate fire school held in February at the Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas. That simulation, designated as prop 50, is the structural burn complex fire, also known as the smokehouse. Hay bales are burned in a darkened metal building to simulate heat and reduced visibility. “They either love it or love to hate it,” said Shane Stuntz, emergency response coordinator for Motiva Enterprises in Convent, LA. “It seems like the group we have this time have had a lot of experience as interior firefighters in the past.” ​ ​ More than 150 industrial firefighters protecting Shell Oil Products and Motiva Enterprises oil and chemical production facilities gathered in College Station, TX, for the joint corporate fire training school. The Motiva Convent facility brought 20 students...
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E-One's factory keeps America stocked in fire apparatus

Sparks shoot as an aerial ladder is welded at E-ONE’s manufacturing facility in Ocala, FL. The welder is disguised beneath the sparks and the base which the ladder stands. The surrounding production floor booms with the sound of assembly as Terry Planck, Industrial Sales Specialist for E-One, leads us across the factory to the multiple production lines, custom pumpers, industrial rescues, commercial pumpers, and aerials all assembled in a systematic flow across the floor. The usual tour of E-ONE’s Florida industrial campus takes at least three hours. The E-ONE employs more than 800 people manufacturing everything from ARFF vehicles, to highly customized pumpers and aerials.   E- ONE was founded in 1974 by Bob Wormser, an engineer who believed that aluminum was the material of choice to stop corrosion in fire trucks. From that radical thought, the first modular all-aluminum body for fire apparatus was born. “When E-ONE introduced aluminum bodies...
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Mission Driven - Adaptability and resilience under pressure

This is part one of a three part series on mission driven culture, a leadership development program being tested by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. A tsunami of fire closes in on a casino resort in the foothills east of San Diego. A CalFire Battalion Chief, scouting as a field observer with a sheriff’s deputy, arrives on scene to unfolding catastrophe: people are panicking and attempting to evacuate on a narrow, winding road; scorched horses, still burning and smoking, are running loose inside the casino.  In the BC’s judgment, the 2500 people around the casino will face certain death in their struggle to escape the flames.  He orders everyone inside and directs management to lock the doors.  When the flame front passes, the BC asks the deputy to go door to door and evacuate to as many homes as possible in the fire’s path.   Post-event investigations all agree that...
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Risk Assessment - Sprinklers - The fastest way to get water

This article is inspired by two recent books. “Fastest Water” is a term cited in Billy Goldfeder’s new book Pass It On, The 2nd Alarm. The term itself comes from the National Fire Sprinkler Association’s work toward providing sprinklers in private dwellings. The idea is that the fastest way to get water on dwelling fires is residential sprinklers. And of course making sure sprinklers are properly designed, maintained, and are not defeated by the fire service is the overall objective of this column.    The second is Sun Tzu and the Art of Fire Service Leadership by Arron Johnson, an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) trained firefighter. It’s all about preplanning, knowing the enemy, and knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.    This two-part article will address five topics: 1) Boil-Over Prevention, 2) Attacking airport tank fires with ARFF apparatus, 3) Fastest sprinklers for warehouse fires, 4) Structural blitz attack, and...
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Training Day - Conducting an emergency scene size-up

This column is the second in a two part series discussing the importance of the scene size-up and how to train to perform this vital function. The first column offered an overview of the13-point size-up and specifics on some of the points. This column will finish discussing the individual points of the COAL WAS WEALTH size-up (so far the COAL points have been covered leaving us with WAS WEALTH) and finish with some ideas on how to utilize and conduct training on it.   WEATHER There are numerous weather conditions to consider. Temperature extremes of both hot and cold can be debilitating to operating personnel as well as victims. In addition, snow and ice can hinder both response and operations, possibly freezing potential water supplies. Temperature can have a major impact on the effects of a chemical release (e.g. a chemical may have a low volatility at low temperatures but develop...
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Focus on Hazmat - The evolution in personal protective equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is equipment intended to be worn or carried by personnel working in proximity to a perceived hazard. It is designed to mitigate or prevent injury in the event of contact. In the days of horse drawn steam pumps, PPE was intended to protect fire fighters and their draft animals from severe cold, water spray in freezing weather and, to some extent, radiant heat. In large cities this was no small matter. It is still common to find photographs of fire apparatus in use at major winter conflagrations while completely shrouded in ice. The common practice before motorized fire gear was to unhitch the teams and remove them from harm’s way. This left the apparatus without means of movement. The only alternative was to cover the animals with blankets to protect against the cold and flying embers. The PPE for the firefighters usually took the form of a...
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IRECA - Improvising a rescue by ground ladder

I was preparing a lesson plan for my technical rescue students when I came across the rules for a rescue competition event they were going to attend. I looked at the various skills they would need to be proficient at performing. There were ropes and rigging, lowering, belaying and hauling skills. Patient packaging and patient care were also being evaluated. But then I came to a section on ground ladder rescues, and it made me stop to ask myself, “When would I ever need to perform a rescue like that?” During my career as a firefighter/EMT I attended many training events and rescue schools. As far back as the mid-1970’s, when I took my first Civil Defense Heavy Rescue course, I remember being shown the various ways in which a rescue squad could improvise rescues by the use of fire service ground ladders. These were always challenging activities that required a...
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EMS Corner - Bromine emergency medical response

My back injury required physical therapy.  My doctor prescribed pool therapy which included doing specific exercises to build the strength of back muscles. When entering the indoor pool area, I noticed a pungent bleach-like odor. The therapist told me the pool had just been cleaned and everything was fine.  I entered, exercised and departed as instructed. Getting out of the pool, I suddenly seemed to lack coordination and had to be assisted. Within a few hours, I began having shortness of breath and a rash appeared on my skin. Within days it spread to a large part of my body. Submitted by a reader According to the Center for Disease Control, Bromine is a naturally occurring element that is liquid at room temperature. It has a brownish-red color and a bleach-like odor and dissolves in water. History of Bromine Bromide is a chemical used for many applications - flame retardant, industrial...
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Flat extinguisher keeps construction costs low

Bill Gough installs and inspects fire extinguishers for a living in Bryan, TX. He ranks the Oval Brand Fire Products extinguisher as comparable to any other 10-pound ABC or dry chemical extinguisher on the market. “I think it performs very well,” Gough said. “It performs like it’s a fast flow and fast flows are very expensive extinguishers that are not normal in everyday use. This one really gets out there a good 12 to 15 feet I’d say. It gives you an opportunity to put the fire out without getting so close to it.” For video of the test, check the IFW YouTube channel -- IFWfireworld. The big difference between Oval and traditional fire extinguishers is the shape. Traditional extinguishers are cylindrical, measuring roughly five inches in diameter. The Oval design is flat, measuring from three to 3½-inches deep and 9 to 11 inches wide.   Gough, owner of Shield Fire...
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The next generation in SCBA

In the world of personal protective equipment (PPE), all things being equal, there’d be just one type of helmet, respirator, eye protection, gloves, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), and so on. And, presumably, none of it would ever become outdated. The truth is, though, that from those donning the equipment, to increasingly hazardous environments, to the availability of emerging technologies, all things are not created equal. Far from it, in fact. For one thing, ever-changing standards have a huge impact on PPE design and manufacture, especially when it comes to SCBA. For another, emerging technologies are helping to advance personal protection at extraordinary speed and unprecedented levels. Tomorrow’s SCBA -- Today “As soon as a new computer is released, it’s virtually obsolete the minute it is unboxed. While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s not unlike SCBA,” says Dennis Capizzi, Fire Service Marketing Manager for MSA, The Safety Company. “With every...
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February fire school keeps Brayton busy

One fire training simulation at Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas in particular seemed to divide responders attending the Shell Oil Products and Motiva Enterprises corporate fire school held in February at the Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas. That simulation, designated as prop 50, is the structural burn complex fire, also known as the smokehouse. Hay bales are burned in a darkened metal building to simulate heat and reduced visibility. “They either love it or love to hate it,” said Shane Stuntz, emergency response coordinator for Motiva Enterprises in Convent, LA. “It seems like the group we have this time have had a lot of experience as interior firefighters in the past.” More than 150 industrial firefighters protecting Shell Oil Products and Motiva Enterprises oil and chemical production facilities gathered in College Station, TX, for the joint corporate fire training school. The Motiva Convent facility brought 20 students for the...
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A new generation of "snake oil" fire foam products

When I joined the fire service in 1966, it was easy to tell the difference between ‘pretenders’ and ‘performers.’ Pretenders, because they knew they would fail a real performance test, would use what I call ‘snake oil sales’ tactics to move their product. Popular among the ‘pretender’ testing tactics include small test pits with thin-skinned fuel loads (just enough fuel to last until the start of foam application), or overwhelming application rates for the liquid surface of the test area. I learned early on in my career to stay away from these so called tests. The worst thing a supplier of products that need to perform could do was let his customers believe that these results really meant something. The pretender foam supplier would claim his product worked as well as real perfromers. At the end of such a test, victory would be proclaimed with ‘high fives for all, free hot...
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E-One's factory keeps America stocked in fire apparatus

Sparks shoot as an aerial ladder is welded at E-ONE’s manufacturing facility in Ocala, FL. The welder is disguised beneath the sparks and the base which the ladder stands. The surrounding production floor booms with the sound of assembly as Terry Planck, Industrial Sales Specialist for E-One, leads us across the factory to the multiple production lines, custom pumpers, industrial rescues, commercial pumpers, and aerials all assembled in a systematic flow across the floor. The usual tour of E-ONE’s Florida industrial campus takes at least three hours. The E-ONE employs more than 800 people manufacturing everything from ARFF vehicles, to highly customized pumpers and aerials.   E- ONE was founded in 1974 by Bob Wormser, an engineer who believed that aluminum was the material of choice to stop corrosion in fire trucks. From that radical thought, the first modular all-aluminum body for fire apparatus was born. “When E-ONE introduced aluminum bodies...
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CSB issues final report on Feb. 2015 refinery explosion in Torrance, CA

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final report into the February 18, 2015, explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California. The blast caused serious property damage to the refinery and scattered catalyst dust up to a mile away from the facility into the nearby community. The incident caused the refinery to be run at limited capacity for over a year, raising gas prices in California and costing drivers in the state an estimated $2.4 billion.   The explosion occurred in the refinery’s fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, where a variety of products, mainly gasoline, are produced. A reaction between hydrocarbons and catalyst takes place in what is known as the “hydrocarbon side” of the FCC unit. The remainder of the FCC unit is comprised of a portion of the reaction process and a series of pollution control equipment that uses air and is known as the “air side”...
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CSB releases final report into 2016 Nitrous Oxide explosion in Florida

April 20, 2017, Pensacola, FL, -- Today, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final report into the August 28, 2016, nitrous oxide explosion at the Airgas manufacturing facility in Cantonment, Florida. The blast killed the only Airgas employee working at the facility that day and heavily damaged the plant, halting its manufacturing of nitrous oxide indefinitely. The CSB investigation found that federal regulations require some chemical facilities that manufacture hazardous substances to have process safety management systems in place to protect their workforce and the public.  The CSB discovered, however, that a majority of these specialized rules are not required for nitrous oxide facilities.   Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “Nitrous oxide is a hazardous substance – facilities should have good safety management systems to mitigate the risks that exist.  Safety management systems standards are critical to identify, evaluate, and control process safety hazards. This tragedy in Cantonment should...
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Series of mistakes led to fatal Kansas plant explosion in October

Preliminary findings from its ongoing investigation of the toxic chemical release that occurred at the MGPI Processing plant in Atchison, Kansas, on October 21, 2016 have been released by the Chemical Safety Board. The CSB’s investigation into the release has identified several shortcomings in the design and labeling of loading stations, as well as adherence to chemical unloading procedures. The MGPI facility produces distilled spirits and specialty wheat proteins and starches. The chemical release occurred when sulfuric acid was inadvertently unloaded from a tanker truck into a fixed sodium hypochlorite tank at the plant. The two materials combined to produce chlorine gas that sent over 140 individuals, both workers and members of the public, to area hospitals and resulted in shelter-in-place and evacuation orders for thousands of local residents.     Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, “This type of accident is preventable. Our investigation demonstrates all too clearly that complacency with...
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