CSB investigators deploy to probe explosion at oil refinery in Wisconsin

A four-person investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene of an incident that reportedly injured multiple workers this morning at the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, WI. The refinery was shutting down in preparation for a five-week turnaround when an explosion was reported around 10 a.m. CDT April 26th. According to initial reports, several people were transported to area hospitals with injuries. There have been no reports of fatalities. Residents and area schools near the refinery were asked to evacuate due to heavy smoke. The CSB is an independent, non-regulatory federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical incidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems. The Board does not...
Continue reading
338 Hits

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...
Continue reading
309 Hits

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...
Continue reading
284 Hits

Shell responder grew up surrounded by the refinery industry

    Working in a refinery is a career that can be unique for a young female college graduate. But refineries were an essential part of life where Shell process operator and emergency responder Victoria Reneau grew up. “It’s nice to be involved in something that you’ve been around your whole life but never really understood,” Reneau said. “Now I understand.” Norco, located 24 miles west of New Orleans, takes its name from the original refinery built there more than one hundred years ago, the New Orleans Refining Company The Shell Petroleum Corporation, a forerunner of Shell Oil Company, acquired the Norco Refinery in 1929. The chemical plant was added in 1955. The Shell Norco Manufacturing Complex, is an integrated petrochemicals asset that has the capacity to process 250,000 barrels of crude oil a day among other fuels. In addition, the site’s chemical plant produces ethylene and propylene, aromatic feedstocks, and...
Continue reading
262 Hits

Montana ERT chief makes "Disasters Man-Made" required reading

    For most industrial emergency responders, “Disasters Man-Made” is something to read in your leisure time – whenever that is. But at the CHS Refinery in Laurel, MT, Emergency Response Coordinator Keith Metzger makes reading the book mandatory for his ERT. “I issued the book to my leadership team and others,” Metzger said. “I assign them a chapter each month. Then we hold a meeting where they highlight any areas of interest that might apply to us here.” “Disasters Man-Made,” written by David White and Anton Riecher, documents 31 post-World War II industrial emergencies that still hold lessons for us today. Published in 2011, the book cover dramatic events ranging from epic fires and hazardous materials spills to less headline-grabbing but crucial incidents that still raised havoc for emergency responders. Besides world-class refinery fires, the litany of industrial woes listed include a water-sensitive magnesium fire, an overtuned barge leaking acid,...
Continue reading
310 Hits

LyondellBasell responders use new aerial in Brayton Fire Training Field scenario

      LyondellBassell’s new 100-foot platform aerial is becoming a familiar sight this spring at the Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station, TX. The aerial is being used as a basic component of the ERT’s training program, said Fire Chief Co DeBorde.  “It’s been going to Brayton every week in March for rescue training,” DeBorde said. “In April it will be going up every week for fire training.” Capable of pumping 3,000 gpm, the aerial was delivered to the LyondellBassell Bayport Complex in Pasadena, TX, by Pierce at the first of the year. Getting responders away from the plant long enough for training is usually difficult enough. Designating apparatus for that training is completely new, DeBorde said. “We are taking it up there and actually breaking it in while we train with it,” he said. Although rare, the use of aerial devices together with live-fire training projects at Brayton...
Continue reading
203 Hits

Louisiana fire school advances to latest phase of expansion

  Every issue Industrial Fire World’s Incident Log column chronicles industrial emergencies worldwide. One repeat offender listed with regularity through the years is fires involving coffee roasters, ranging from specialty shop models to industrial mega monsters that handle up to 500 pounds per batch. Chip Elliott, a fire safety and process safety manager for Folgers Coffee in New Orleans, deals with the mega monsters.  “During the roasting process, the roasters build-up flammable carbon monoxide,” Elliott said. “An explosive atmosphere is present when CO levels exceed 15,000 parts per million.” Hence, Folgers needs firefighters close at hand. The coffee makers are only one of a wide variety of Louisiana concerns that turn to Delgado Community College’s Maritime and Industrial Training Center for emergency response training. “Before Delgado we had to do in-house training,” Elliott said. “Obviously, we don’t have the resources. We don’t have the life-size, live-fire props. We don’t have the...
Continue reading
259 Hits

Revisiting the Gulf Coast hurricanes

During the month of Oct, 2017, two hurricanes, Harvey and Irma made landfall on the highly industrialized Texas Gulf coast within days of each other. Never in modern history has such a cataclysmic event descended upon an area so vital to the American economy. The destruction left in the wake of these storms has been unequaled in any memory and many were saying that recovery would take months and even years to accomplish. These people badly underestimated the stamina and resilience that is characteristic of Americans in general and those who live on the Gulf coast in particular as well as their ability and willingness to mobilize whatever resources were needed to mitigate damage and alleviate distress and suffering.    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It brought out the best in American culture; the first responders of all types; military, law enforcement, fire and...
Continue reading
206 Hits

Adding an extran'P' for proper PPE

Whenever groups of hazardous materials responders get together, their conversation inevitably revolves around their most recent hazmat incidents. What was spilled, how big it was, how much damage was caused, and what they did to mitigate the incident are usually the main topics. Somewhere within the discussion someone will ask, “What level of PPE were you wearing?” Often, you will hear the ‘Alphabet Suit’ response. “It was so bad we had to go in at Level A. Even the decon team was in level A.” However, does the alphabet suit system fully explain how we chose the proper personal protective equipment (PPPE)?   Determining the Need for PPE In our training programs, we use the Benner D.E.C.I.D.E. model as a systematic approach to mitigating hazardous material incidents. The six-steps begin with detecting and identifying the chemical(s) involved in the incident. This is the key to any other actions that will be...
Continue reading
226 Hits

ICS/NIMS training mission to Africa

I recently had the opportunity to conduct some emergency training in Africa. I had conducted training with this group once before, instructing a collapse course in South Africa with a touch of firefighter rescue thrown in; although the main focus of their training is generally the management of major incidents.  The USDA Forest Service (USFS) along with USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has conducted this training in several African Countries since 2009.  Initially the program was primarily focused on fighting forest fires. However as the program has evolved it has expanded to an all-hazard approach and is focusing on All Hazard National Incident Management System (NIMS) rather than only the Incident Command Systems (ICS).    The FDNY and the USFS had worked extensively together during operations following the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), with the USFS assisting with incident management. This was to be the first...
Continue reading
310 Hits

Handling ideas not invented here

This article was motivated by a recent Facebook post showing an elevated platform capable of reaching heights over 360 feet (110 meters). Most of the comments centered around the impracticality of it, including some downright negative opinions. Although I know of no US fire departments operating platforms anywhere near this height, taller platforms (not necessarily this tall) are common outside the United States. My thoughts about this are coupled with some personal experiences with fitness coaches where one would think the advice of another was the most ridiculous thing in the world. Being able to accept other ways of thinking can lead to better overall fire protection and unique solutions to unforeseen challenges. This was written a few days after Texas firefighters used the stream from a jet boat to extinguish a house fire that was inaccessible any other way due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Other examples I...
Continue reading
211 Hits

Jack Frost nipping at your extremities

It began as a normal day except Hank’s alarm didn’t go off and he was running late. He layered himself for the storm conditions, picked up his hat and gloves and rushed out the door.  Working for the State Highway department, his focus for the day – moving pristine white snow from the roads.  When moving massive amounts of snow he hit something under the snow.  It stopped the truck which forced him out of the truck to inspect for damage and remove what was blocking his path.   Digging out the snow around the truck took longer than expected.  He thought to radio for help, but this truck was a backup and without a radio.  His cell phone would not dial out as he was located in a low spot that didn’t allow him to dial out.  So, he buckled down and began to dig again, but his hands became...
Continue reading
131 Hits

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,...
Continue reading
290 Hits

Seven ways to leverage relationships with local municipal fire responders

Industrial firefighting isn’t like municipal response; The environments, site-specific hazards, facilities, and access are unlike most municipal response.  There are different rules, personnel, business priorities, and equipment that are specific to industrial firefighting that can be challenging for local municipal responders should an incident occur. So regardless of whether your plant has its own fire brigade, planning ahead and establishing relationships with your local fire departments before an incident occurs may eliminate delays, and overcome challenges and barriers when responding to an industrial fire alarm.   Fire Brigade Standards Before getting into the specifics of creating alliances with local responders, it’s important to know and understand the standards and best practices governing employer-established fire brigades. Both the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and also the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) have specific standards. OSHA Standard 1910.156 establishes the requirements for policies, training, equipment, and personal protective...
Continue reading
156 Hits

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...
Continue reading
341 Hits

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...
Continue reading
320 Hits

US Fire Pump flow reaches 30,000 gpm

Had it not been for the mighty Mississippi nearby, the flow demonstration that highlighted the US Fire Pump’s Big Water Symposium in November might have qualified as the biggest movement of water in Baton Rouge history.   An array of pumps, hose and monitors surrounding the testing pond at the Louisiana State University’s Fire and Emergency Training Institute delivered a combined flow rate of 30,000 gallons per minute, said John Snyder, fire specialist with US Fire Pump.   “That was accomplished with only seven pieces of equipment, not counting the guns themselves,” Snyder said.   USFP equipment utilized included two mobile pump units, three hydraulic submersible units, an Emergency Response Aquatic Deployment System, a Remote-Control Track Monitor, a Deluge apparatus and multiple monitor units.   “We wanted to bring a combination of everything to show a variety of flow from different devices,” Snyder said.   Nearly 20,000 gallons per minute of...
Continue reading
549 Hits

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...
Continue reading
222 Hits

More grain dust explosions reported nationwide in 2017

West Lafayette, IN - There were seven reported grain dust explosions at U.S. food and agricultural facilities in 2017, two more than in 2016 but still below the 10-year average of 9.3 explosions per year, according to an annual report issued by Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
258 Hits

With cancer as leading cause of death for firefighters, new hazmat procedures aim to save lives

LONE TREE, Colo. -- When you think of firefighters working on a fire, you probably picture ash-covered uniforms with black soot caked on their faces.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
202 Hits


Go to top