Industrial Fire World - Blog

IFW publisher named to National Fire Heritage Center's Hall of Legends

HallOFlegends National Fire Heritage Center's Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders inductees.
Industrial Fire World publisher David White was among six new members of the National Fire Heritage Center’s Hall of Legends, Legacies and Leaders to be inducted during April ceremonies at FDIC International 2019 in Indianapolis, IN. The NFHCF includes the National Fire Heritage Archives, the National Fire Museum System, and the National Fire Heritage Foundation. Established in 2010, the HLLL includes prominent fire service leaders who have made significant contributions to fire protection who have been a member of the fire service or fire protection disciplines for at least 25 years and who are known/recognized in the national/international fire service arena. This year’s inductees include: David White is widely respected for his influence on municipal and industrial fire protection education, training, and standards and for bringing industrial fire and emergency response into the forefront with the municipal and volunteer fire service. He has impacted the knowledge and leadership development of thousands of...
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Dwight Williams comes out of retirement to take a key role in the ITC extinguishment

Dwight Dwight Williams
By ANTON RIECHER/IFW EDITOR Rumors regarding the retirement of Dwight Williams, one of the leading figures in large-volume flammable liquid storage firefighting, have been greatly exaggerated if the March 20 th extinguishment of the massive Intercontinental Terminals Co. fire in Deer Park, TX is any indication. “Well, I guess I lied,” Williams said. Williams, who stepped down as head of Williams Fire and Hazard Control in September 2011, took a major role in the joint effort to put out the stubborn 64-hour blaze that spread through petrochemical products in and around 15 storage tanks and unleashed black smoke visible in satellite photographs stretching as far west as Austin. US FIRE PUMP ESTABLISHES ITSELF AS MAJOR INDUSTRIAL RESPONDER - CHECK OUT THE SPRING ISSUE OF IFW MAGAZINE He ranked the Deer Park emergency as among the worst in a career that includes the M/V Jupiter tanker fire in 1990 in Michigan, the...
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Dave's Notes: Grasping the slippery truth

                                On Jan. 1, 1994, provisions of the M ontreal Protocol, an international agreement intended to protect the ozone layer, banned the domestic production of halons. One of the most effective firefighting agents known to humanity found itself condemned to death with no chance of a reprieve. Well, kinda. Halon continues to play an important role in fire protection today. We nurse stockpiles of it to keep our automatic systems in aircraft and electronic centers fully pressurized. Why? Because halon extinguishes in minimal time, is non-corrosive and relatively non-toxic to humans. Nothing better has been found to replace it. Fast forward to the present. Long range environmental concerns threaten to torpedo the use of fluorinated surfactants in Class B firefighting foam. However, testing to date still finds fluorinated foams vastly superior to non-fluorinated substitutes. Unlike halon,...
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Dave's Notes: A captain named obvious

Working any kind of firefighting magic at an industrial conflagration requires one basic component – water. And, yet, as incontrovertible as that fact is, it is amazing how often responders have to scrape together major moisture on short notice at facilities where the need for water is as obvious as oranges are called oranges because they are orange. No, I am not referring to the 1989 Pasadena, TX, chemical plant explosion and fire. As much as I enjoy dwelling on that high point in my firefighting career the fire water system at Pasadena would have been up to the challenge had not the initial blast sheared off every available hydrant at ground level. I mean companies who do not even bother installing the hydrants. In 2002 a fire at a petroleum blending and packaging plant in Pearland, TX threatened nearly 1.2 million gallons of motor oil, hydraulic fluids and lubricants. Yet,...
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Self-contained fixed foam system smothers tank fires with precision

  Any diagram of the typical fixed fire protection system soon turns elaborate with pumps, proportioners and valves. By comparison, the Swiss Fire Protection Research & Development AG (SFPRD) Pi Foam Firefighting System for large volume flammable liquid storage tanks thrives on simplicity. The system is basic and effective, said Andras Peller, SFPRD’s director. He compared it to popping the top on an extremely agitated can of carbonated beverage. “Despite being less expensive than most traditional systems, Pi Foam offers a quality of performance that can exceed any standard,” he said. Essentially, the Pi (Pressurized Instant) Foam system consists of a single moving part – a remote controlled valve that caps a high pressure vessel. If the sensors on the tank detect flames, the valve pops open and ready-to-use foam is pushed through a pipe network traveling up the tank and around the rim. Within moments, a symmetrical coat of foam...
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Superior, WI fire chief presented Red Adair Award for April 2018 refinery fire response

    Industrial Fire World magazine honored Superior, WI Fire Chief Steve Panger with its 2018 Red Adair Award Friday (Aug. 10) in recognition of his department’s response to the April 26 fire and explosion that rocked the Husky Energy refinery in Superior.   For YouTube footage of the presentation, CLICK HERE or see below.     "Thank you to Industrial Fire World magazine for keeping the legacy of Red Adair alive," Panger said. "It's people like Red who have made advancements in the world of industrial fire fighting that definitely make our job safer today."   A preliminary report by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board states that an initial explosion in a catalytic cracking unit at Husky Energy triggered a 15,000 barrel spill of hot asphalt that spread nearly two hours before ignition.   The award, presented during the International Association of Fire Chiefs Fire-Rescue International Conference and Expo in Dallas, TX,...
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Buenos Aires refinery responders battle training fires in Texas

  Argentine emergency responders training in the United States expect to encounter language problems. What surprises Pablo Martin Fritz Oliver, fire chief at Shell’s 8,000-barrels-a-day refinery in Buenos Aires, is how easily firefighters overcome those stumbling blocks. “It’s not really anything debilitating,” the bilingual Oliver said. ”Firefighters all speak the same language, really. The objectives are the same, no matter what language you’re speaking.” Oliver and two other responders from the Buenos Aires ERT attended the Shell corporate fire school at Brayton Fire Training Field in April. The school is held three times a year in Texas to accommodate Shell emergency responders worldwide. Oliver’s ERT is essentially a volunteer organization supplemented by five fulltime professional firefighters, including himself. Per shift, the ERT typically has about 25 volunteer responders on site to draw from in an emergency. Parked at the refinery’s single fire station is an inventory of rolling stock that includes...
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CSB releases factual update on April explosion and fire at Wisconsin refinery

  Superior, Wisconsin, August 2, 2018: Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a factual update into its ongoing investigation of the April 26, 2018, explosion and subsequent fires at the Husky Superior Refinery in Superior, Wisconsin. The initial explosion occurred in the refinery’s Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) at approximately 10:00 am while the refinery was shutting down the FCCU for periodic maintenance and inspection. To date the CSB has determined the following: The explosion took place during a planned maintenance shutdown of the refinery FCCU. The incident occurred during a scheduled break time and many workers previously in the unit before the explosion had moved either into blast resistant buildings or away from the process unit. One piece of debris from the explosion flew about 200 feet, and struck a large, nearby, aboveground storage tank containing about 50,000 barrels of asphalt. The side of the tank was punctured,...
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Refinery firefighter tackles any new challenge 'single handed'

  Industrial firefighter Cory Campbell says he wishes he had a good story about how he lost his left hand in the line of duty. The truth is he was missing that appendage long before his 12-year career in the fire service began.  “I was born without it,” Campbell said. “Nobody knows why it happened.” Some might claim that being born missing a hand and part of his forearm halfway to the elbow is an unfair adversity. Campbell is not one of them. “In my opinion it was good luck,” Campbell said. “It’s made me who I am today. I think it’s what gives me a positive outlook.” He was among 130 attendees at the annual Xtreme Industrial Fire and Hazard Training held in June at Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas. Campbell, 43, serves as a fire brigade battalion chief at a refinery in Blaine, WA. The 234,000 barrels-per-day refinery...
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Chevron firefighters greet the dawn battling a live-fire training prop

  Scheduling nighttime live-burns at Brayton Fire Training Field becomes a challenge during the summer. Texas twilight lingers long past 8 p.m., making it hard to get an early start the next day, said Tonnie R. Hopson, operations chief for Chevron’s three-times-a-year corporate fire school. Instead, the Chevron firefighters hit the field at 5:30 a.m. on the last day of the four-day school. “The responders look forward to getting up and getting it knocked out,” Hopson said. “It means an early finish for them at around 2 p.m. and the rest of the day to do what they want.” An hour before dawn nearly 80 responders took up positions on three live-fire projects at the southeast end of the fire field – the chemical complex, rail car loading rack and tank and dike project.  When all three are ignited, it provided the first serious light to break the darkness. Slowly, the...
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Fire system maintenance starts at tank

      Keeping fire protection tanks in tip-top shape is crucial to maintaining a functional fire protection system. Fire protection is needed year-round without any interruptions in service. Tanks must have an adequate water supply and be properly maintained so that they are working during emergencies.   Tanks can be made of steel, wood, fiberglass or concrete. Steel is the material of choice for most fire protection tanks. It can be used to erect elevated tanks that are fed by gravity or for ground storage tanks. Both elevated and ground storage require similar maintenance, though elevated tanks are more expensive to upkeep.They are also harder to heat, but they don’t require a pump system like ground storage tanks since they are pressured-based. Pump systems are necessary on ground storage tanks to boost water pressure.     TANK CLEANOUTS The National Fire Protection Association recommends that tanks be cleaned and disinfected...
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Simpliest solution often the best

  This column is based on a collapse I responded to back on February 27th. As a disclaimer I will state that this account of events is based on the operations conducted by myself and the other members of Squad 1 (SQ-1). There were numerous units operating at this collapse and any particular operation, such as the placement of a ladder for shoring, probably involved the actions of individual members of many of those units.   I was the officer on duty working the day tour in SQ-1 and we were conducting a collapse drill constructing collapse shoring. We were finishing up a second type of shoring when the alarm went off and we received a ticket to respond to 467 Rutland Road in Brooklyn, NY, for reports of a building collapse with a worker trapped in the basement. During our response we received confirmation that we had units on scene...
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Psychological trauma ending in suicide

Our driver engineer Jim was an accomplished Paramedic.  Recently he seemed agitated after an incident where we responded to an major vehicle accident involving a mother and infant. The infant daughter died in Jim’s arms just as we extricated her from the vehicle. Jim feverishly did CPR while riding in the ambulance to the hospital.  After the incident he seemed withdrawn but we had responded to many incidences that were critical and we all bounced back with a little time. The thoughts were that Jim would bounce back too.    Jim had always been the life of the party at the fire station and was a picture of health.  Over the last few months since this incident Jim seemed irritable and short tempered.  He complained of palpitations and didn’t pitch in with station work, whereas before, he led with a dynamic personality that made work fun for all of us. Today,...
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Fire department connections revisited

      Many years ago, we wrote an article about the need to pre-plan fire department connections (FDCs) so that a sprinkler or a standpipe system can be properly supplied. In the case of standpipes, this is needed to either provide sustained flow or to supplement flow, and in the case of a dry standpipe, to provide all the water.  In the case of sprinkler systems guidelines are provided by NFPA 13 which is the standard that governs automatic sprinklers and intends that fire department connections are to supplement the water supply. This could be to boost pressure, boost flow, or increase the duration of the supply. They can also be used during a water supply outage to keep the sprinkler system in service. A recent fire at a tire warehouse offers a clear example for the need to support a sprinkler FDC. The sprinklers at the warehouse had controlled...
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Clear combustible wrapper

When it comes to a high pressure vapor release, the scary visuals, i.e., the billowing apparition rapidly enveloping the facility, is not as dangerous as what might already be much closer. An invisible killer surrounds the escaping fuel, a combustible wrapper that makes ignition and death possible. Visible clouds of vapor represent a region of relative safety. The richness of the fuel itself drives away the oxygen it needs to burn. You might suffocate but you will not incinerate. However, just beyond the vapor the leading edge of the release is mixing with the surrounding atmosphere, turning clear and flammable. Granted, with a multitude of ignition sources readily available, chances are the escaping vapor will touch off long before the ERT can do anything. The plant’s own fire pumps, automatically activated in such an emergency, could easily provide the devastating spark. But what if the gas continues to vent uninterrupted for...
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Chevron fire protection engineers experience the enemy up close

  Vanessa Aguayo and Antoya Ellis ordinarily address the hottest of the hot button issues that besiege industrial fire protection using cold equations and sophisticated computer models. Chevron’s corporate fire school in May marked their first time wearing bunker gear and breathing apparatus. “I want to understand what firefighters actually go through, what they feel,” Aguayo said. “In that way we can design better fire protection systems for them.” Aguayo and Ellis, 11 and six-year Chevron employees, respectively, are Fire Protection Engineers working in Chevron’s Energy Technology Company in Houston.  They design fire protection systems including completing and verifying hydraulic calculations and transient analysis, fire and gas detector placement and conduct 3D mapping analysis. Their work protects the company’s refineries and upstream assets worldwide.   One project that Aguayo and Ellis have under their belt is developing specifications to implement full-surface and rim seal fire suppression for large-diameter flammable liquid storage...
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New management reopens fire training field in Beaumont, TX

Despite being given up for dead by its previous lessee, the Beaumont (TX) Fire/Rescue Training Center is on track to reopen in late July, nearly a year since heavy flooding during Hurricane Harvey forced its closure. The Beaumont City Council voted unanimously in April to grant a 20-year lease on the 45-acre city-owned facility to Industrial Rescue Instruction Systems, Inc., a Beaumont-based company specializing in training for industrial emergency responders. IRIS owner David Owens said the reopened school will now operate under the name Industrial Rescue Fire Training Field. “This is an opportunity we’ve been looking for,” Owens said. “The city offered the school to us in 2002 but we weren’t big enough at the time.” Owens, who plans to invest $1.5 million in reopening the school, said the project was largely a matter of “sentimental value” to him. He became familiar with the complex as a student and instructor before...
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Chevron fire captain struggles with cancer diagnosis

Hearing the words, “You have cancer,” once in your life is terrible enough. Robert Taylor, captain with the Chevron El Segundo ERT, has heard it twice in the last eight years. At the Chevron corporate fire school in April and May Robert’s wife Jill gave his colleagues a complete update on his progress via Skype. Robert normally serves as chief of operations for the three Chevron schools held annually at Brayton Fire Training Field. Unfortunately Robert was too sick to participate. But by email he made it clear he intends to return to his fire school duties. “If a miracle happens, I do plan to return to the corporate fire school in 2019, yet I know Tonnie (Hopson) and the guys are doing a great job of running things in my absence,” Robert writes. Robert, featured in the Summer 2017 issue of Industrial Fire World, also plays a prominent role in...
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2018 Red Adair Award for industrial firefighting to be presented at FRI

The 2018 Red Adair Award for leadership in industrial firefighting will be presented by Industrial Fire World magazine April 10 during the Fire-Rescue International conference in Dallas.   “The greatest aspect of this award is its tie to Red,” IFW publisher David   White said. “I presented the first Red Adair Award to Red himself in 1991.”   Adair, who died in August 2004 at age 89, was a highly respected leader in the specialized field of oil well fire fighting. His lengthy career was capped in 1991 when he took a lead role in extinguishing the many oil well fires in Kuwait set by the retreating Iraqi army after the Gulf War.   White, a former instructor at the Texas A&M Fire School, is the owner of Fire & Safety Specialists, a training and consulting firm that has done work in China, India, Libya, South Africa and other foreign countries....
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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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