IRECA: June conference expands competition

Smith Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station, TX is an internationally recognized emergency response training center.
Offering something a little different every year has been the guiding principle behind planning the International Rescue and Emergency Care Association conference. However, the 71st Annual Conference & Challenges being held June 17 through 21, 2019 in College Station, TX represents a more ambitious leap for IRECA. With Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s (TEEX) Brayton Fire Training Field and Disaster City® as its location, the conference is expanding the number of teams competing in its rescue challenges from six to 12, said past IRECA president and conference chairman Gary Leafblad.  “Doubling the number of teams in one year represents a big gamble for us,” Leafblad said. The last IRECA conference was conducted in Boise, ID using the Amalgamated Sugar refinery as the setting for the challenges involving seven-member technical rescue teams and four-member first response rescue teams. There was also a basic life support challenge open to three-member level teams. Moving...
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Class Act: Firefighters change training schedule to accommodate Bush funeral

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Former President George H.W. Bush, 94, was laid to rest Dec. 6 at his presidential library in College Station, TX. His death was a tragedy for the nation and played havoc with the planned schedule for the winter Hellfighter U fire training at the nearby Brayton Fire Training Field. “We’re forced into scrambling the agenda and rearranging the curriculum in a sequence we’ve never utilized before,” Hellfighter U director Frank Bateman said. The changes also meant sacrificing a portion of the open discussion time to discuss such hot button issues as prioritizing performance and firefighter safety in the controversy concerning firefighting foam and the environment. “What I say is if you’re going to put your life on the line using firefighting foam, make sure it performs,” Bateman said. “I want to incorporate that into the criteria for foam testing.” PHOS-CHEK ™ , the company behind Hellfighter U, offers a full range...
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Valero firefighters in Memphis train on their own fire field

  For most industrial emergency responders, live-fire training is a treat reserved for occasional visits to Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas or the state fire academies back home. But at Valero Energy’s 195,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Memphis, TN training with live fire is the norm, not the exception. Valero Memphis operates its own fire field on site, complete with live-fire training props, said Nick Fazzio, chief of the Valero Memphis emergency response team.  “We’re really lucky that we can do live fire training in our refinery Fazzio said. “We like to take advantage of it.” Once relatively common, refineries with on-site training for emergency responders are becoming harder to find. Most have long since been taken over by the necessities of expanding production with only limited property available. “We bring the Memphis municipal firefighters into our facility to train,” as well as bring them with us to TEEX to give...
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TEEX holds 56th annual industrial fire training

  Seven hundred and thirteen industrial emergency response brigades members and safety officers from some of the world’s largest energy and chemical companies attended the 56th annual Industrial Fire School at Brayton Fire Training Field last July in Texas. The students represent 17 countries and 32 U.S. states. Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) staffers and 267 specially recruited guest instructors conducted the training. Bill Burket of Shell has attended every summer school for the  last 19 years. Now a guest instructor he teaches NFPA 1080 exterior firefighting. “We get a lot of municipal firefighters,” he said. “We try to introduce them to the different approach needed for big fires.” As children, Burket brought his two children to witness the school. Today, his oldest holds a degree in industrial safety. His youngest, Michael, 19, now pursuing the same degree, returned to Brayton this year with his father. David Bartek of Charlotte,...
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Williams Fire & Hazard Control legendary industrial fire event returns to Brayton Fire Field

    One hundred and fifty participants from nine countries representing 63 different companies attended the 25th annual XTREME Fire and Hazard Training in June at Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station, TX. Chauncey Naylor, director of training and emergency response for Johnson Control’s Williams Fire & Hazard Control, celebrating a quarter century as one of the premier events on the industrial fire training calendar deserves recognition. “Just about everything that has gone into that 25-year history is something you’re going to witness today,” Naylor told the audience for the opening day general session. “Along with our sales and response team, sixteen guest instructors representing all aspects of industrial emergency response conducted the combination of classroom and live-fire training that makes the XTREME event unique,” said Naylor. “We had a star studded group of guest instructors from industry,” he said. “We need to acknowledge with deep graditude that industry really...
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Shell ERT plays host to autistic teen who yearns to fight fire someday

Leland Paniza is a teenager of few words, owing mainly to autism. What betrayed his excitement watching emergency responders from Shell work a live-fire training project at Brayton Fire Training Field was a shy smile that slowly spread across his face. “I want to be a firefighter,” Leland said. “I want to save people.” Leland, a student at A&M Consolidated High School in College Station, TX, has a friend who got word to the Shell responders training at Brayton about his fascination with firefighting.  The result was an invitation to come watch the big fire in person. He arrived at project 31 – the process complex prop – shortly after the flames were ignited. One of the Shell instructors took time to explain the training scenario underway as the firefighters labored to extinguish the propane fed chemical operations fire. Slowly the hose teams moved about, pushing back the various flames until...
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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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TEEX industrial fire school helps keep Texas summer hot

  Zach Slapak of the Painesville Township (OH) Fire Department was only a week away from attending the annual Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service Industrial Fire School in July when his town played host to an industrial fire that made national news. “The company involved makes metallic effect pigments and pearlescent pigments,” Slapak said. “There were all sorts of metal shavings involved.” It took Painesville and 15 other fire agencies nearly 4½ hours to bring the fire under control. Multiple explosions were heard inside the burning plant.   Aside from the pigments plant, Painesville’s industrial base includes a Lubrizol facility for manufacturing chemical additives used in lubricants. A Painesville responder is always included among Lubrizol firefighters attending the industrial school in Texas. “Lubrizol has been paying to send one of our firefighters here every summer for the last 20 years,” Slapak said. The industrial fire school, held July 16 through the...
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Chevron tests new Brayton fire prop

Pre-planning for a live-fire training exercise should be based on what the responder observes first hand, not on word-of-mouth from other firefighters who have trained using the same prop, said Robert Taylor, fire captain with Chevron’s El Segundo, CA, refinery. “We want you to read the fire,” he said. “See what is presented to you and react to that based on a combination of your knowledge and experience.” Taylor served as Chevron’s press liaison during its corporate fire school in April at Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station, TX. He also served as one of 15 fire instructors training the nearly 60 full-time and volunteer firefighters attending.     His comment about pre-planning came during a debriefing following a training scenario involving Brayton’s new 45-foot diameter storage tank project. “I want you to dissect this on what we think went well and where were the opportunities,” Taylor told the firefighters....
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