Self-contained fixed foam system smothers tank fires with precision

  Any diagram of the typical fixed fire protection system soon turns elaborate with pumps, proportioners and valves. By comparison, the Swiss Fire Protection Research & Development AG (SFPRD) Pi Foam Firefighting System for large volume flammable liquid storage tanks thrives on simplicity. The system is basic and effective, said Andras Peller, SFPRD’s director. He compared it to popping the top on an extremely agitated can of carbonated beverage. “Despite being less expensive than most traditional systems, Pi Foam offers a quality of performance that can exceed any standard,” he said. Essentially, the Pi (Pressurized Instant) Foam system consists of a single moving part – a remote controlled valve that caps a high pressure vessel. If the sensors on the tank detect flames, the valve pops open and ready-to-use foam is pushed through a pipe network traveling up the tank and around the rim. Within moments, a symmetrical coat of foam...
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Superior, WI fire chief presented Red Adair Award for April 2018 refinery fire response

    Industrial Fire World magazine honored Superior, WI Fire Chief Steve Panger with its 2018 Red Adair Award Friday (Aug. 10) in recognition of his department’s response to the April 26 fire and explosion that rocked the Husky Energy refinery in Superior.   For YouTube footage of the presentation, CLICK HERE or see below.     "Thank you to Industrial Fire World magazine for keeping the legacy of Red Adair alive," Panger said. "It's people like Red who have made advancements in the world of industrial fire fighting that definitely make our job safer today."   A preliminary report by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board states that an initial explosion in a catalytic cracking unit at Husky Energy triggered a 15,000 barrel spill of hot asphalt that spread nearly two hours before ignition.   The award, presented during the International Association of Fire Chiefs Fire-Rescue International Conference and Expo in Dallas, TX,...
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Buenos Aires refinery responders battle training fires in Texas

  Argentine emergency responders training in the United States expect to encounter language problems. What surprises Pablo Martin Fritz Oliver, fire chief at Shell’s 8,000-barrels-a-day refinery in Buenos Aires, is how easily firefighters overcome those stumbling blocks. “It’s not really anything debilitating,” the bilingual Oliver said. ”Firefighters all speak the same language, really. The objectives are the same, no matter what language you’re speaking.” Oliver and two other responders from the Buenos Aires ERT attended the Shell corporate fire school at Brayton Fire Training Field in April. The school is held three times a year in Texas to accommodate Shell emergency responders worldwide. Oliver’s ERT is essentially a volunteer organization supplemented by five fulltime professional firefighters, including himself. Per shift, the ERT typically has about 25 volunteer responders on site to draw from in an emergency. Parked at the refinery’s single fire station is an inventory of rolling stock that includes...
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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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Fire at Coca-Cola factory hits UK supply of popular drink Rose's Lime Cordial

Lime lovers around the UK have been left scouring supermarket shelves for their favorite cordial after the country's current supply sold out.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE .
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CSB releases factual update on April explosion and fire at Wisconsin refinery

  Superior, Wisconsin, August 2, 2018: Today the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a factual update into its ongoing investigation of the April 26, 2018, explosion and subsequent fires at the Husky Superior Refinery in Superior, Wisconsin. The initial explosion occurred in the refinery’s Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) at approximately 10:00 am while the refinery was shutting down the FCCU for periodic maintenance and inspection. To date the CSB has determined the following: The explosion took place during a planned maintenance shutdown of the refinery FCCU. The incident occurred during a scheduled break time and many workers previously in the unit before the explosion had moved either into blast resistant buildings or away from the process unit. One piece of debris from the explosion flew about 200 feet, and struck a large, nearby, aboveground storage tank containing about 50,000 barrels of asphalt. The side of the tank was punctured,...
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Refinery firefighter tackles any new challenge 'single handed'

  Industrial firefighter Cory Campbell says he wishes he had a good story about how he lost his left hand in the line of duty. The truth is he was missing that appendage long before his 12-year career in the fire service began.  “I was born without it,” Campbell said. “Nobody knows why it happened.” Some might claim that being born missing a hand and part of his forearm halfway to the elbow is an unfair adversity. Campbell is not one of them. “In my opinion it was good luck,” Campbell said. “It’s made me who I am today. I think it’s what gives me a positive outlook.” He was among 130 attendees at the annual Xtreme Industrial Fire and Hazard Training held in June at Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas. Campbell, 43, serves as a fire brigade battalion chief at a refinery in Blaine, WA. The 234,000 barrels-per-day refinery...
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Chevron firefighters greet the dawn battling a live-fire training prop

  Scheduling nighttime live-burns at Brayton Fire Training Field becomes a challenge during the summer. Texas twilight lingers long past 8 p.m., making it hard to get an early start the next day, said Tonnie R. Hopson, operations chief for Chevron’s three-times-a-year corporate fire school. Instead, the Chevron firefighters hit the field at 5:30 a.m. on the last day of the four-day school. “The responders look forward to getting up and getting it knocked out,” Hopson said. “It means an early finish for them at around 2 p.m. and the rest of the day to do what they want.” An hour before dawn nearly 80 responders took up positions on three live-fire projects at the southeast end of the fire field – the chemical complex, rail car loading rack and tank and dike project.  When all three are ignited, it provided the first serious light to break the darkness. Slowly, the...
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Fire system maintenance starts at tank

      Keeping fire protection tanks in tip-top shape is crucial to maintaining a functional fire protection system. Fire protection is needed year-round without any interruptions in service. Tanks must have an adequate water supply and be properly maintained so that they are working during emergencies.   Tanks can be made of steel, wood, fiberglass or concrete. Steel is the material of choice for most fire protection tanks. It can be used to erect elevated tanks that are fed by gravity or for ground storage tanks. Both elevated and ground storage require similar maintenance, though elevated tanks are more expensive to upkeep.They are also harder to heat, but they don’t require a pump system like ground storage tanks since they are pressured-based. Pump systems are necessary on ground storage tanks to boost water pressure.     TANK CLEANOUTS The National Fire Protection Association recommends that tanks be cleaned and disinfected...
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Simpliest solution often the best

  This column is based on a collapse I responded to back on February 27th. As a disclaimer I will state that this account of events is based on the operations conducted by myself and the other members of Squad 1 (SQ-1). There were numerous units operating at this collapse and any particular operation, such as the placement of a ladder for shoring, probably involved the actions of individual members of many of those units.   I was the officer on duty working the day tour in SQ-1 and we were conducting a collapse drill constructing collapse shoring. We were finishing up a second type of shoring when the alarm went off and we received a ticket to respond to 467 Rutland Road in Brooklyn, NY, for reports of a building collapse with a worker trapped in the basement. During our response we received confirmation that we had units on scene...
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Psychological trauma ending in suicide

Our driver engineer Jim was an accomplished Paramedic.  Recently he seemed agitated after an incident where we responded to an major vehicle accident involving a mother and infant. The infant daughter died in Jim’s arms just as we extricated her from the vehicle. Jim feverishly did CPR while riding in the ambulance to the hospital.  After the incident he seemed withdrawn but we had responded to many incidences that were critical and we all bounced back with a little time. The thoughts were that Jim would bounce back too.    Jim had always been the life of the party at the fire station and was a picture of health.  Over the last few months since this incident Jim seemed irritable and short tempered.  He complained of palpitations and didn’t pitch in with station work, whereas before, he led with a dynamic personality that made work fun for all of us. Today,...
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A systematic approach to rescue ops

Amid the chaos and excitement of any rescue operation, there are often important aspects of incident that can be overlooked. Sometimes, the sequencing of tasks becomes disjointed. Though the outcome we all seek is the same, the way we get there can vary between rescue teams. The key to success is to create a systematic approach to perform functions that ensures that they will occur in proper sequence and in a timely manner. For example, we use the acronym P.A.S.S. when we use portable fire extinguishers. It stands for Pull – Aim – Squeeze – Sweep. These four steps must be performed in a certain sequence to be successful. In EMS, we use a variety of acronyms from ABC [Airway – Breathing – Circulation] to the SAMPLE history [Signs/Symptoms – Allergies – Medications – Previous history – Last intake – Events preceding]. Search and rescue teams have used L.A.S.T. [Locate –...
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Fire department connections revisited

      Many years ago, we wrote an article about the need to pre-plan fire department connections (FDCs) so that a sprinkler or a standpipe system can be properly supplied. In the case of standpipes, this is needed to either provide sustained flow or to supplement flow, and in the case of a dry standpipe, to provide all the water.  In the case of sprinkler systems guidelines are provided by NFPA 13 which is the standard that governs automatic sprinklers and intends that fire department connections are to supplement the water supply. This could be to boost pressure, boost flow, or increase the duration of the supply. They can also be used during a water supply outage to keep the sprinkler system in service. A recent fire at a tire warehouse offers a clear example for the need to support a sprinkler FDC. The sprinklers at the warehouse had controlled...
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Clear combustible wrapper

When it comes to a high pressure vapor release, the scary visuals, i.e., the billowing apparition rapidly enveloping the facility, is not as dangerous as what might already be much closer. An invisible killer surrounds the escaping fuel, a combustible wrapper that makes ignition and death possible. Visible clouds of vapor represent a region of relative safety. The richness of the fuel itself drives away the oxygen it needs to burn. You might suffocate but you will not incinerate. However, just beyond the vapor the leading edge of the release is mixing with the surrounding atmosphere, turning clear and flammable. Granted, with a multitude of ignition sources readily available, chances are the escaping vapor will touch off long before the ERT can do anything. The plant’s own fire pumps, automatically activated in such an emergency, could easily provide the devastating spark. But what if the gas continues to vent uninterrupted for...
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How a warehouse fire sparked company-wide innovation at Gap Inc.

At 10:30 p.m. on Monday, August 29, 2016, Jim Young had just gotten home after a long day on the factory floor when he received the call he had been dreading his entire life.     To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.
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Plan in place to burn off remaining chemical from Akron plant fire

The Akron (OH) Fire Department and Emerald Performance Materials have announced the plan to get rid of the remaining chemical that burned in a huge fire at the plant on July 18.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.   .
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Husky: $27M in damage, $53M in expenses, 2020 restart

Superior, WI - Following an explosion and fire in April, Husky Energy says its Superior refinery is not expected to resume normal operations until 2020.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.   .
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Ford 2Q earnings down nearly half due to supplier fire, China

Detroit, MI - Dinged by slumping China sales and a fire at a U.S. parts factory, Ford Motor Co.'s second-quarter net profit fell 48 percent from a year ago.   To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.   .
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Chevron fire protection engineers experience the enemy up close

  Vanessa Aguayo and Antoya Ellis ordinarily address the hottest of the hot button issues that besiege industrial fire protection using cold equations and sophisticated computer models. Chevron’s corporate fire school in May marked their first time wearing bunker gear and breathing apparatus. “I want to understand what firefighters actually go through, what they feel,” Aguayo said. “In that way we can design better fire protection systems for them.” Aguayo and Ellis, 11 and six-year Chevron employees, respectively, are Fire Protection Engineers working in Chevron’s Energy Technology Company in Houston.  They design fire protection systems including completing and verifying hydraulic calculations and transient analysis, fire and gas detector placement and conduct 3D mapping analysis. Their work protects the company’s refineries and upstream assets worldwide.   One project that Aguayo and Ellis have under their belt is developing specifications to implement full-surface and rim seal fire suppression for large-diameter flammable liquid storage...
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New management reopens fire training field in Beaumont, TX

Despite being given up for dead by its previous lessee, the Beaumont (TX) Fire/Rescue Training Center is on track to reopen in late July, nearly a year since heavy flooding during Hurricane Harvey forced its closure. The Beaumont City Council voted unanimously in April to grant a 20-year lease on the 45-acre city-owned facility to Industrial Rescue Instruction Systems, Inc., a Beaumont-based company specializing in training for industrial emergency responders. IRIS owner David Owens said the reopened school will now operate under the name Industrial Rescue Fire Training Field. “This is an opportunity we’ve been looking for,” Owens said. “The city offered the school to us in 2002 but we weren’t big enough at the time.” Owens, who plans to invest $1.5 million in reopening the school, said the project was largely a matter of “sentimental value” to him. He became familiar with the complex as a student and instructor before...
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