Texas Gulf Coast faces repeat of 2001 Tropical Storm Allison disaster

EDITORS NOTE: With Hurricane Harvey barrelling toward the Texas Gulf Coast, it might be time to remember a similar emergency in 2001 that raised havoc with the petroleum industry. The following article is taken from the book "Disasters Man-Made," written by David White and Anton Riecher.   TROPICAL STORM ALLISON set the stage for one of the seminal events in modern industrial fire fighting – the successful extinguishment of a burning jumbo storage tank with substantial product saved. Every firefighter who participated in this breakthrough can claim a piece of the history making story.   “The thing I will remember about this fire is the dedication shown by the firefighters, the teamwork and their ability to shift to a higher gear even when they were tired,” said J.R. Chidester, fire chief for the Orion Oil refinery complex in Norco, LA.   Dwight Williams, contracted by Orion to assist Chidester, specializes in...
Continue reading
543 Hits

Dubai's Marina Torch Tower ablaze again

  Flames scorched a path up nearly two-thirds of Dubai’s 87-story Marina Torch Tower Friday in the spectacular repeat of a February 2015 blaze that swept along the exterior of the fifth tallest residential building in the world.     That earlier fire earned the cover of the Spring 2015 issue of Industrial Fire World.   According to Dubai Civil Defence, the fire Friday broke out on the 26th floor shortly before 1 a.m. Dubai time. In slightly over an hour, the fire crept up 64 stories of the building’s exterior, damaging 38 apartments in the process. Interior damage was also reported on the 83rd and 84th floors.   Firefighters were able to evacuated 475 residents with no injuries reported, authorities said. No cause has been reported for the fire.   In the 2015 fire, an official with Dubai Civil Defense said evidence at the scene left little doubt that the...
Continue reading
304 Hits

Pierce introduces high flow industrial fire apparatus at Fire Rescue International

Pierce Manufacturing’s newest fire truck, the Pierce® High Flow Industrial Apparatus, is capable of flowing 5,500 gallons per minute when drafting, and up to 10,000 gallons per minute when drawing from a pressurized water source. The vehicle was formally introduced to the public in July at Fire Rescue International in Charlotte, NC.   Shortly before that, the vehicle was demonstrated at the annual Texas Industrial Fire School at Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station, TX.     In emergency scenarios, when an industrial pumper is called into action, maximum water and foam flow are the top priorities, said Matt McLeish, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing of the Fire & Emergency segment.   “That’s exactly what we’ve accomplished with the new Pierce High Flow Industrial Apparatus – its numbers are off the charts, and set the new performance benchmark,” he said. “Equally important, however, is the firefighting system’s endurance,...
Continue reading
431 Hits

XTREME: Annual Williams F&HC school returns to its roots at Brayton

College Station, TX, is now one of three annual international stops made by the Williams Fire & Hazard Control Xtreme Industrial Fire & Hazard Training event held at Brayton Fire Training Field in June. The other two upcoming stops for the event are Saint-Marcel, France, in September and Rayong, Thailand, in January, said Chauncey Naylor, director of emergency response and training at Williams Fire. “Now that we are a Johnson Control company we have the ability to bring this program to other parts of the world and we are not stopping there,” Naylor told firefighters attending the June event. “We have plant to add yet another region to the schedule.” Designed primarily for advance level firefighters, the event includes classroom study and practical exercises to cover various incident profiles and fire dynamics, foam and dry chemical applications, response logistics and field operations and large-volume equipment applications. The event at Brayton marked...
Continue reading
531 Hits

Some people like the heat ...

Michael F. Marchan prefers a tropical climate. He grew up on St. Croix in the Virgin Islands and spent 18 years in operations at the Hovensa refinery there before it closed in 2012. Shortly thereafter he became a shift lead at the Seaport Canaveral fuel terminal in Florida.   Fittingly enough, when the company decided he needed fire training he ended up at the Williams Fire & Hazard Control Xtreme school held at Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas. “What our company does is every year we sponsor four people – two operators and two firefighters – to attend this school,” Marchan said. “It helps build trust and goodwill with the guys that have our back. It also gives us good experience so we can understand what our firefighters need.” Marchan’s state-of-the-art terminal has a capacity of nearly three million barrels of refined products. Its 24 tanks offer storage for gasoline,...
Continue reading
299 Hits

Wrapped Up Tight - Issues with flammable cladding stretch back more than 40 years

For many years I have closely followed the progress of fire fighting in Scottsdale, AZ, a city that incorporated in 1952 with a population of about 2,000 and has grown to more than a quarter million residents today. Unlike most cities, Scottsdale, following a period of industrial issues with the municipal fire department members, contracted out to a private provider. A key step to reduce the number and size of fires was an ordinance passed in the 1980s requiring that all future buildings have fire sprinklers installed.     No doubt the construction industry objected mightily to such an unwarranted regulatory intervention, predicting the demise of all new development. And, yet, Scottsdale today prospers as a major resort stop drawing more than seven million people annually.  An outstanding fire safety record helps, not hurts. Reducing the number of fires and their severity likewise reduces the need for multiple fire appliances, fuel,...
Continue reading
338 Hits

Dave's Notes: ‘I told you so’ again

Outside of television sitcoms, does anyone still use the smug phrase “I told you so?” I think of couples bickering over being late for dinner or the movies. “You have no one to blame but yourself,” usually shuts off further debate. Then why, in the wake of London’s Grenfell Towers fire, is it the phrase foremost in my thoughts? Once again, warnings went unheeded. In the May-June 2009 issue of Industrial Fire World, the column “Risk Assessment” dealt with increased fire risk blamed on exterior insulation and finishing systems (EIFS). (See http://tinyurl.com/yaeqkop8 ) “The architects like to use EFIS because architectural features such as columns and decorative attachments can be created rather easily at a low cost,” the column states. “The finish coat can be made to look like poured concrete, concrete blocks, bricks or anything the architect wants.” Unfortunately, some companies that claim to install EIFS systems use unapproved polyurethane-coated...
Continue reading
357 Hits

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...
Continue reading
222 Hits

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....
Continue reading
452 Hits

LyondellBasell brings ERT to Brayton Fire Training Field

LyondellBasell’s manufacturing holdings in Pasadena, Texas, is so vast an enterprise that the single corporate fire brigade covering the three separate plant sites requires two fire chiefs to operate. One of the two chiefs, or emergency response coordinators, serving LyondellBasell’s Bayport Complex in Pasadena is Co Deborde. The nickname “Co” stands for Cecil O’Neal. A 27-year employee at Bayport Complex, Deborde began as an operator serving on the fire brigade. “We were all trained in ERT response,” he said. In addition, Deborde became a volunteer with the local municipal department, serving 17 years before retiring. Deborde is responsible for the Bayport Choate plant, a 280-acre plant that produces propylene oxide, tertiary butyl alcohol, propylene glycol, propylene glycol ethers and tertiary butyl hyderoperoxide. His authority also covers the adjacent plant, Bayport Polymers, which manufactures material used in consumer products such as food containers, medical syringes and carpeting. The site also produces material...
Continue reading
357 Hits

Mission Driven: Work to eliminate uncertainty and surprises

Agencies are experiencing an explosion of complexity, and with that, increased expectations and accountability. Federal assistance is shrinking or at best, flat lined. These trends drive the need for greater adaptability, and increasing the speed of the decision cycle.  The model of hierarchal, centralized command and control reflects an obsolete leadership paradigm that believes people are cogs and controllable by systems.  This model fails in large, dynamic events. Information cannot flow ‘up’, be decided upon, and flow ‘down’ fast enough before the decision is rendered irrelevant by changing circumstance. Paradoxically, centralization seems part of our nature.  For the most part, emergency responders work in government agencies that tend to be bureaucracies.  Bureaucracies seek equilibrium and self-preservation. The goal is eliminating uncertainty and surprises. The absence of bad things becomes valued more than the presence of good things.  The well-worn path to avoid bad things is to make lots of rules and...
Continue reading
335 Hits

Big Flow: Training operation breaks flow record for fire water

Responders reached a big flow of 49,000 gallons per minute from an array of deluge guns, pumps and large diameter hose lines during a June training operation by the New Jersey Urban Area Security Initiative Neptune Task Force. “I think what we achieved is a new unofficial record,” said Bob Gliem, industrial products specialist for Ferrara Fire Apparatus. Ferrara provided a rear mount Inundator Super Pumper with a 5,000 gpm draft pump for the exercise.   The previous record for combined water flow by firefighting apparatus cited by the participating Elizabeth (NJ) Fire Department is 41,000 gpm. Held at Berth 25 at Port Newark, NJ, the exercise sought to shoot a volume between 49,000 gpm and 51,000 gpm over a distance of 500 feet. The Neptune Task Force is a consortium of more than a dozen firefighting agencies and organizations in and around the New York Harbor region. The consortium takes...
Continue reading
447 Hits

Flash Forward: Upcoming Edition of NFPA 2112 Reflects Substantive Changes

Flash fire protection is an important safety aspect for personnel who work around flammable substances, such as solvents, fuels, dusts and gases. While fires involving these substances can occur very quickly, an additional hazard results from flammable garments that can continue burning on personnel after the fire has passed. NFPA 2112, Standard on Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel against Flash Fire, was developed to address this hazard. Garments that meet the requirements of NFPA 2112 do not continue to burn or shrink, and generally protect a large portion of a worker’s body from short-term thermal exposure. NFPA 2112 is concurrently used with NFPA 2113, Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures; OSHA encourages the use of both standards. NFPA 2112 is currently completing a revision cycle to update the standard from the 2012 edition to the 2018...
Continue reading
387 Hits

EMS Corner: Formula for a double trouble emergency

On May 27, 2017, 25-year old Rachel Daly collapsed during a soccer match as temperatures climbed into the 90s.  She was taken by ambulance to the hospital and treated for heat illness.  A 25-year old athlete with temperatures barely reaching into the 90’s, Rachel says this was a “frightening experience.”   Now consider that our workforce is middle aged, out of shape, some with a poor diet or night of drinking alcohol prior to starting a work shift and we have what I call Double Trouble.    Not only do heat emergencies cause hypovolemia (loss of fluid), but loss of blood chemistry (electrolytes).  Add a worker with just about any illness or significant aging and you have your recipe for potential disaster, yet we tend to treat heat related illness as if it is no big deal.   OSHA investigated 25 incidents of heat-related illness in 2005.  In almost half of...
Continue reading
398 Hits

Hemorrhage control takes spotlight

Little has changed since my Boy Scout First Aid training in the 1970s about how we stop bleeding. Apply direct pressure. Elevate the wound. Remember the pressure points. But thanks in part to the military, a renewed focus on hemorrhage control is apparent in most trauma journals. A 2013 article in Military Times states that  25 percent of war deaths are “potentially survivable.” Trauma Surgeon Col. Brian Eastridge with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research states that “uncontrolled blood loss was the leading cause of death in 90 percent of the potentially survivable battlefield cases.” Aggressive tourniquet use is recommended to reduce deaths due to blood loss from limb injuries.1 Think of the tourniquet, a small, at times improvised, medical device that has been around since the days of Napoleon and still making a tremendous difference today. Do we see battlefield injuries in our emergency calls? Data from the National...
Continue reading
304 Hits

Focus on Hazmat: Halogens - modern blessing comes with a bite

The column was originally intended to run with a package of articles on the dangers of bromine poisoning that ran in the Spring 2017 issue of Industrial Fire World. The halogens are a group of five elements having similar chemical properties. These are (in order of atomic mass and atomic number) fluorine 9, chlorine 19, bromine 35 iodine 53. Two others, astatine 85 and ltennessine117, are known to exist but are radioactive and ltennessine 117 is a synthetic element. Compounds of Aastatine 85 have only been made in nanogram quantities. They have no significant use except in research.   The name “Halogen” translates to “salt former.” These are the elements that react to form compounds known as salts. Sodium Chloride (NaCl) or table salt is a classic example. Potassium Bromide (KBr) is another. The halogens are characterized by having seven electrons in the outer shell of their atoms, thus tending to...
Continue reading
251 Hits

Training Day: Thinking Outside the Box About Ground Ladders

This article was inspired by an article, concerning alternative uses of ground ladders for rescue, in the Spring 2017 issue of Industrial Fire World magazine.  I read that article during the time period that I was conducting a training cycle, of several weeks, preparing several new FDNY Special Operations firefighters to attend their advanced firefighter (FF) rescue training. Several of the techniques taught in this course either involve the unconventional use of ladders or were inspired by techniques involving the unconventional use of ladders.      While normally used for access and egress there are other more unconventional ways that they can be used to accomplish these goals. In FDNY manuals there are techniques to use ladders to: bridge over alleyways (also used over excavations), to replace burnt out stairs, and to bridge over fences (utilizing two ladders lashed together). During operations at the World Trade Center ladders were laid out...
Continue reading
530 Hits

Risk Assessment: Matching the right sprinklers to the job

In Part 1, we discussed that this article was inspired by two recent books. “Fastest Water” is a term cited in Billy Goldfeder’s new book Pass It On, The 2nd Alarm and Sun Tzu and the Art of Fire Service Leadership by Arron Johnson. Reading more in Goldfeder’s book, contributing author Skip Coleman cites Tom Brennan’ s observation that if you only have the resources to do one thing – “Put the fire out!”. This was in the context of a structural fire and Brennan was probably talking mostly about occupied apartments  and other residences, but there are many industrial parallels. In part 1, we addressed Boil-Over Prevention and attacking airport tank fires with ARFF apparatus. In part 2, we will address fastest sprinklers for warehouse fires, structural blitz attack, and, large industrial monitors.         Fastest Sprinklers for Warehouse Fires For their first hundred years of existence, sprinklers were intended...
Continue reading
364 Hits

Henry Beare, 72, of Seminole, TX dead following fall at gas processing plant

Funeral services are pending for Henry Beare, 72, of Seminole, TX, recognized for establishing the New Mexico Firefighters Training Academy. He died Tuesday from injuries suffered June 15 in a fall at an oilfield gas processing plant near Seminole.   Arrangements are under the direction of Ratliff Funeral Home in Seminole. A vcteran memorial service will be scheduled at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM, at a future date. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please direct donations to The National Fallen Firefighters Fund at https://www.firehero.org/donate.   A press release issued by the Gaines County Sheriff’s Office states that Beare died Tuesday at University Medical Center in Lubbock where he had been transported by medical helicopter after his fall from a height of 10-to-12 feet at the Hess Corp. Seminole Gas Processing Plant northwest of Seminole, the release states.   Born May 18, 1945, in Albuquerque, NM, Beare was a...
Continue reading
198 Hits

Risk Assessment - Exterior insulation and finishing

Originally published in the May-June 2009 issue of Industrial Fire World. Reposted following the Grenfell Towers fire in London. To read part two of the column, CLICK HERE .   As a result of a few recent fires that have started on or involved the exterior of the building, a number of them have been blamed on the use of an exterior insulation and finishing systems (EIFS), a building technique to provide building insulation and architectural ornamentation. While the exact material ignited in the most recent casino fire has not been determined, chances are that a listed EIFS was not the cause of the extensive fire spread. This article will address this issue. EIFS was developed originally to insulate existing buildings without disrupting or losing interior space. The insulating material is installed over the exterior wall of the building, then covered with a finish coat material. EIFS were developed in Europe...
Continue reading
366 Hits

JOIN OUR MAILING LIST FOR NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS, PRODUCTS, & MORE

Go to top