Texas flooding forces rescheduling of Dwight Williams fire symposium in Beaumont
Flooding related to one of the wettest tropical cyclones in U.S. history has forced the postponement of a one-day symposium featuring well known industrial firefighter Dwight Williams that was originally scheduled for Sept. 24.
“Tank Fires, Lesson Learned and Some Forgotten …” combining classroom lectures at the MCM Eleganté Hotel with fire field exercises held at the Industrial Rescue Fire Training Field has been rescheduled for Oct. 24, said IRFT owner David Owens.
“There is no water on the fire field so far,” Owens said. “Unfortunately the MCM Eleganté has flooded.”
The National Weather Service said preliminary estimates suggested that Jefferson County was deluged with more than 40 inches (102 centimeters) of rain in a span of just 72 hours, which would make it the seventh-wettest tropical cyclone to hit the continental U.S.
Owens said he has been overwhelmed with telephone calls concerned about potential flooding at the fire field. After flooding from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 the field was closed for nearly a year until reopened under new management by Owens.
“We are watching the river very closely,” Owens said.
Meanwhile, the IRFT staff has spent the last two days assisting local public safety personnel in dealing with the high water emergency, he said.
The symposium will address important techniques and strategies for dealing with large volume flammable liquid fires.
“We have a whole generation of responders who have never seen a major fire,” Williams said. “This is an opportunity to talk about major fires, what to expect and how to prepare.
Williams, the founder of Williams Fire & Hazard Control, came out of retirement in March to take a major role in the joint effort to extinguish the stubborn 64-hour blaze at Intercontinental Terminals Co. in Deer Park, TX. Flames spread through petrochemical products in and around 15 storage tanks, unleashing a plume of black smoke tracked by radar stretching as far west as Austin.
That experience and others convinced Williams that many of the hard lessons learned by his generation of firefighters have not been passed on to responders today, he said.
“I think we have forgotten a lot that we need to be talking about,” Williams said. “This symposium will be the truth about how to handle major fire, what has been forgotten and what needs to be back in the forefront of peoples’ minds.”
Tickets obtained for the original Sept. 24 symposium are automatically good for the rescheduled event on Oct. 24, Owens said. For further information, contact IRFT at (409) 363-3542 or Industrial Rescue Instruction Systems at (409) 924-0710.
Hotel reservations must be rescheduled separately.