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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Back in Business: Texas fire school resumes summer industrial training

IRTFtank Fire foam demonstration using IRTF's 42-foot-diameter storage tank prop.
By ANTON RIECHER/IFW Editor Beginning in the late 1960s Beaumont, TX played host to a summer training school attended by industrial firefighters across the state and, eventually, from around the world. Then, in 2004, that tradition was set aside by a new regime at the Beaumont fire school. David Owens with Industrial Rescue, operator of the recently reopened school, plans to resume the annual event beginning in May 2019. “It’s a big deal for us to get that going again,” Owens said. “It will give all the local emergency response companies around here the opportunity to train together again.” Scheduled for May 6 through 10, the summer school will offer training in interior and exterior firefighting, rescue, leadership and other topics important to emergency response teams. “I’ve talked to most of the players out there and they’re all excited about being a part of it,” Owens said. “Most of them started...
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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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Texas chemical plant, CEO indicted for 'reckless' release during Hurricane Harvey

  The North American subsidiary of a French chemical manufacturer and two senior staff members were indicted Friday (Aug. 3) in connection with last year's explosion at the Crosby, Texas, plant in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
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Flood damaged Beaumont, TX fire training school to reopen by late July

A Beaumont, TX-based rescue training company has stepped forward to save the Beaumont Emergency Safety Training complex, closed since August 2017 after heavy flooding from Hurricane Harvey.   The Beaumont City Council voted unanimously to grant a 20-year lease to Industrial Rescue Instruction Systems, Inc., an industrial emergency training school with facilities in Beaumont and Baytown, TX, near Houston.   “This is an opportunity we’ve been looking for,” said IRIS owner David Owens. “The city offered the school to us in 2002 but we weren’t big enough at the time.”     Making an investment of $1.5 million in the facility, Owens said he expects to reopen by the end of July.   Founded in 1966 under the name “Flame City,” the 45-acre complex consists of 14 fire training simulations or “props,” and assorted other facilities for training in rescue and hazardous materials response.   Located on the banks of the...
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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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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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Fuel tank failures spill 145,000 gallons during Harvey

More than two dozen storage tanks holding crude oil, gasoline and other contaminants ruptured or otherwise failed when Harvey slammed into the Texas coast, spilling at least 145,000 gallons (548,868 liters) of fuel and spewing toxic pollutants into the air, according to an Associated Press analysis of pollution reports submitted to state and federal regulators.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
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US floods rescue workers sue over chemical plant fire

Crosby, TX - Seven emergency workers who responded to the aftermath of last month's mega-storm Harvey sued chemical company Arkema Thursday for exposing them to smoke from a fire at its flooded Texas plant.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .    
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CSB orders investigation into chemical plant fire in Crosby, TX

An investigation of the Arkema chemical plant emergency in Crosby, TX has been initiated by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board but will not move forward until the emergency has been resolved, a CSB official said Thursday. In a press release, CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said the agency had been closely monitoring events related to Hurricane Harvey. "All of us at the CSB have been watching the events in the Gulf Coast region over the last several days and join in our prayerful hopes for the recovery and restoration of the region," Sutherland said. "We have two employees of the CSB who are based in the Houston area, and we are grateful that they and their families are safe." Specifically, the CSB is initiating an investigation of the Arkema emergency. The plant, which manufactures organic peroxides, lost refrigeration to all its cold-storage warehouses after power went out and the backup generators...
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