Robert Taylor - Blog

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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El Segundo Chevron ERT captain Robert Taylor dies from pancreatic cancer

  Robert Taylor, captain with the Chevron El Segundo (CA) ERT, died Sept. 1 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 29 at American Martyrs Catholic Church, 624 15th Street, Manhattan Beach, CA. Taylor's wife, Jill Brunkhardt-Taylor, posted the following on the internet. "It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the passing of the love of my life Robert William Taylor Sr. He passed away peacefully with me holding his hand and my other hand on his heart, and his beautiful daughter Alex also by his side. We are devastated and heartbroken, but know that he is at peace, no longer in pain and surrounded by conditional love." In 2010, Robert was diagnosed with colon cancer. After a year-long battle for his life, Robert remained in remission for five years and was declared officially cancer free in 2015. But in...
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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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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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Chevron chiefs gather in Texas for annual meeting

Bringing emergency responders together for an annual corporate fire school is not enough for Chevron. In conjunction with the company’s April fire school, Chevron brought together all its industrial fire chiefs as well. Robert Taylor, fire captain with Chevron’s El Segundo, CA, refinery, said the annual chiefs meeting is part of the effort to standardize emergency response company-wide and remain current with new equipment and technology.   “The chiefs discuss issues such as standards for whether a firefighter is fit for duty to what type of turnout gear, equipment and foam to buy,” Taylor said. “That way we are comparing apples to apples when working in a group setting with representatives from our different fire brigades.” Standardization is also an important factor in training. “We brought in 15 instructors from all the various locations,” he said. “It can be really difficult to get instructors to be consistent with their messaging. 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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