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,...
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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,...
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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 ) “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...
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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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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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   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...
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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...
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Risk Assessment - Exterior insulation and finishing

Article originally published in the July-August 2009 issue of Industrial Fire World. Reposted in the wake of the Grenfell Towers disaster in London. To read part one of the series, CLICK HERE .   The first part of my article I went over some of the fires the systems were involved in, how the systems are fabricated, and the fire tests conducted on the systems. As discussed in previous articles, these systems may be used when industrial buildings need to blend in to the local community or when an attractive exterior is desired for freestanding office buildings at large industrial plants.     I would like to make an update in that article. I spoke with an investigator who visited the casino fire, who said that while the exact cause has not been determined, workers were welding a cat walk on the roof side of a parapet when the fire broke...
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CSB releases investigative update into catastrophic pressure vessel failure that killed 4

May 25, 2017, St. Louis, MO – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a “Factual Investigative Update” on the April 3, 2017, catastrophic rupture of a pressure vessel at the Loy Lange Box Company that killed four people and left another in critical condition.    The CSB’s ongoing examination of the incident has identified a history of leaks in the pressure vessel, which was part of a steam generation system. In 2012, the vessel was repaired when it was discovered that water was leaking from the bottom of its tank. In what was termed an “emergency repair,” a portion of the bottom of the tank was replaced with a custom made center section.    On Friday, March 31, 2017, employees again noticed a leak from the bottom of the vessel. Photos taken by the employees revealed leaks coming from at least two distinct sections of a 6-inch ring of original...
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Workplace safety and health regulation seeks to reduce risk of major incidents at California oil refineries

Oakland, CA - The  Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has approved new workplace safety and health regulations at oil refineries across the state intended to provide a framework for anticipating, preventing and responding to hazards at refineries. “This is the most protective regulation in the nation for the safety and health of refinery workers and surrounding communities,” said DIR Director Christine Baker. “This new regulation will ensure California’s oil refineries are operated with the highest levels of safety possible and with injury and illness prevention in mind.” The approved regulation introduces a new refinery safety order enforced by Cal/OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Unit, adding section 5189.1 to Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations. The elements outlined in the regulation require refinery employers to: • Conduct Damage Mechanism Reviews for processes that result in equipment or material degradation. Physical degradation, such as corrosion...
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CSB releases safety bulletin on 2015 chemical release and flash fire at Delaware factory

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its findings and a safety bulletin entitled "Key Lessons for Preventing Incidents when Preparing Process Equipment for Maintenance" resulting from a hydrocarbon release and fire that injured one worker at the Delaware City Refining Company in Delaware City, DE. CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland said, "More than a third of the incidents investigated by the CSB occurred during maintenance activities, ultimately resulting in 86 fatalities and 410 injuries." On November 29, 2015, alkylation unit operators at the Delaware City Refining Company, or DCRC, were preparing equipment for maintenance. Prior to performing the work, operators had to first drain and isolate a section of piping scheduled to be replaced by closing valves to block the flow of hydrocarbons into the piping. However, the operators learned that a valve on one side of the pipe isolation was leaking and therefore would not seal properly, which led...
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