Blast Rocks GA. Sugar Refinery



Blast Rocks GA. Sugar Refinery
Blast Rocks GA. Sugar Refinery
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard
Permit #204
Bollingbrook, IL
his Big
Als ire
4/24/2008, 3:58 PM
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Photo courtesy of Georgia Insurance & Safety Fire Commissioner
On February 7, 2008, a massive explosion and fire at a sugar refinery
northwest of Savannah, GA, caused 13 deaths and left others critically
injured with burns. The blast was likely fueled by combustible sugar dust.
5: Deadly Dust
Even small accumulations of
combustible dust in industrial
settings can result in fiery tragedy.
14: One Seven System
In Europe, industrial fire brigades are
beginning to pay real attention to the
advantages of compressed air foam.
16: Fluorine Fundamentals
DuPont introduces fluorinated compounds that reduces the environmental impact of Class B foam.
18: Curtain Call
Retired Chief Bob Wood receives
the Connie Award at the 23rd
annual IFW Conference
19: Trouble on Refinery Road
A February 2008 explosion at an oil
refinery in Big Springs, TX, registered 2.1 on the Richter scale.
7: Dust Storm
Williams Fire & Hazard Control
extinguishes Georgia silo fires
involving a sugary fire medium.
23: Petroblast
Blast-resistant modules designed
for refining & petrochemical sites.
24: Explosion Proof
Gas detectors limit risks while
giving operators needed flexibility.
31: Nine Time Champs
Alyeska responders cinch annual
Alaskian firefighter competition.
33: Witches Brew
Chemical Safety Board releases
study on Apex, N.C., hazmat fire.
36: Weyerhaeuser/Eaton Partner
Companies work together to
reduce the risk of arc flash.
Technical Consultant
Louis N. Molino, Sr.
Incident Log Editor
Jason Marsh
Hazmat Contributor
John S. Townsend, Ph.D.
EMS Contributor
Bill Kerney
Education Contributor
Attila Hertelendy
Risk Contributor
John A. Frank
David White
Anton Riecher
Circulation Manager
Gloria Thompson
Marketing Manager
Lynn White
Associate Editor
Kendra Graf
Marketing Representative
Sherrill Miller
Volume 23
Number 3
4: Dave’s Notes
By David White
The cheap prices we pay for goods
in the first world is often at the cost
of safety in the third world.
13: Industry News
• CSB video details Texas blast
• OSHA fines Texas refinery
• OSHA renews foundry alliance
• Pipeline corp. wins API award
27: Incident Log
28: Focus on Hazmat
By John Townsend
Fire fighting foams are being
challenged by a new fuel — ethanol.
30: Risk Assessment
By Jeffrey Roberts
The nuts and bolts of ensuring that
a fire pump will operate during a fire.
32: EMS Corner
By Bill Kerney
How to deal with death on the job.
34: Industrial Service
37: New Products
38: Spotlight Ads
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Industrial Fire World, March-April 2008, Volume 23, No. 2. Industrial Fire World (ISSN 0749-890X) is published bimonthly by Industrial Fire World, Inc., P.O. Box 9161, College Station, Texas 77842. (979) 690-7559. Fax: (979) 6907562. E-mail: [email protected] All rights reserved under International Convention. Copyright © 2007 by Industrial Fire World Inc., all rights reserved. Industrial Fire World is a registered trademark of David White Investments, Inc.,
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4/24/2008, 3:58 PM
Safety comes no cheaper overseas
First World safety
too costly for many
Third World plants
.S. companies relocate their plants
overseas for many reasons. They can
hire workers at very low wages, such as
30 cents an hour in China. Companies don’t have
to pay any employee benefits. They don’t have
to pay foreign taxes when they export their
products back to us. And, most wicked of all,
they don’t have to comply with safety and
environmental regulations.
To an injured worker or a grieving family, the
only acceptable industrial casualty figure is zero.
Absolutes are rarely achieved in any human
endeavor, but that is no excuse not to try. The
problem is that some countries do not try as
hard as others, and it is reflected in the prices we
pay for goods.
According to Standard & Poor, China is in a
position to overtake Japan as the largest
economy in the Asia-Pacific region and become
the second-largest global economy within the
next five years. Yet, in 2005, about 127,000
people in China died in workplace accidents with
at least 17 incidents with death tolls exceeding
30. As the country has racked up more than two
decades of near double-digit annual economic
growth, the number of accidents in factories and
mines has also multiplied.
Some consider the Chinese injury and fatality
numbers to be a low ball estimate at best. Plant
managers, fearing government fines and possible
closure, often pay the families of dead workers
not to report deaths. Of course, a poor industrial
safety record and lack of openness in reporting
casualties is much harder to hide with the advent
of the Internet and cell phones.
China is not alone in sacrificing safety for
profit. A Finnish study states that India has an
annual industrial fatality rate of 11.4 people per
100,000 workers. Overall, Asian nations
excluding China and India have an average
industrial accident fatality rate of 21.5 per
100,000. The study credits the U.S. with a fatality
rate of 5.2 people per 100,000.
Think of American industry in terms of the
immense quantities of materials processed, much
of which is, in raw form, toxic, corrosive,
flammable and even explosive. As prominent
industrial emergency responder Dwight Williams
is fond of observing, these folks “aren’t making
cake batter.” Yet, given the enormous scale and
inherent risks, the incidence of death and injury is
remarkably low. U.S. Department of Labor
statistics state that out of 5,702 work-related
fatalities reported in 2005, only nine percent were
from exposure to harmful substances and
environment. Three percent were from fires and
explosions. More people died at work as the
result of assaults and violent acts such as
homicides. Now take into consideration that of
those 5,702 fatalities, only 393 were directly
engaged in manufacturing. The construction
business alone killed 1,186 people in 2005.
In an ordinary month, the Industrial Fire World
website might list as many as 200 industrial
emergencies worldwide of sufficient interest to
gain press notoriety. Only 20 or so of these
incidents involve fatalities. No doubt this
unscientific sampling under represents the true
casualty figure, but it gives us some basis for
So is the U.S. too cheap or too expensive when
it comes to protecting workers? After any major
industrial incident, OSHA, the Chemical Safety
Board or the NTSB produces a scathing report
demanding that, for example, any refinery with
Type X pressure vessel be inspected and extensive
revisions be made. That is their job, to look at the
safety and ignore the dollars. But at some point
some corporate bean counter will work the
numbers and determine that making said revisions
is simply too costly. The decision is made to shut
down the facility and move the operation to the
Third World. Goodbye jobs, hello cheaper goods.
I personally have spent much of the last two
years visiting many foreign countries. Most of
them are very modernized in the way that an
American or any First World visitor might consider
comfortable. But, at the same time, I can assure
you these countries do not observe anything
approaching OSHA or EPA standards, or the
standards enforced by any European regulatory
With regard to safety, the playing field is
anything but level. That is not likely to change
anytime soon. Still, with the global village
continuing the shrink, it will become increasingly
hard to hide the human cost behind the consumer
savings. At some point, the unsafe practices of
our trading competitors will catch up with them.
Bad PR is not fatal in the same way as flash fires
and toxic vapor, but it can significantly hurt the
bottom line where most companies live.
4/24/2008, 3:58 PM
foundry that made cast aluminum and aluminum alloy automobile wheels
– killed an additional eight workers.
Angela Blair of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
served as lead investigator for a report on combustible dust fires and
explosions released by the CSB in 2006. She said investigators soon
realized that the phrase “dust explosion” was not part of the common
vernacular in industry.
“People do not comprehend that dust will explode,” Blair said. “In
those first investigations, we spent a lot of energy explaining and
convincing people what dust was capable of doing.”
Updating the statistics used in that report, there have been 348 dust
explosion and fire incidents in U.S. industry since 1980. Those incidents
resulted in 132 fatalities and 780 injuries. Including the Feb. 7 sugar
By Anton Riecher
refinery explosion in Port Wentworth, GA, at least eight of those incidents
ack when Grandma cooked over an open flame were defined as “catastrophic,” involving multiple fatalities and significant
it was common knowledge – never use flour community economic impact.
Citing the CSB dust explosion report, Rep. John Barrow, D-GA,
to extinguish a grease fire. Use baking soda or
Rep. George Miller, D-CA, chairman of the House Education and
salt. Better yet, put a lid over the pan. But never,
Committee, have announced plans to introduce a bill to force
never use flour. It might mean placing the kitchen and,
quite possibly, Grandma at risk for a fiery dust OSHA to issue new regulations governing industrial dust. A hearing on
the issue was scheduled for March 12 in the wake of a sugar refinery
As a highly dispersed dust, flour can ignite. Flour is explosion in Port Wentworth, GA, on February 7 that killed 12.
Ed Foulke Jr., head of OSHA, visited the Port Wentworth blast site
a starch which, like other carbohydrates such as sugar,
burns very easily. About two ounces suspended in a on March 3 to announce that federal inspections would be carried out at
cubic yard of air is enough to create an intense flash hundreds of plants where combustible dust is a workplace hazard.
fire. If the dust cloud ignites within a confined space, OSHA mailed 30,000 companies with regard to combustible dust dangers.
the situation can become explosive.
According to the CSB report, the two most common fuel types
Flour is not the only dust that poses an airborne threat. Most solid involving dust explosions and fires were the food products industry
organic materials, as well as
with 24 percent and the
many metals and some
lumber and wood products
nonmetallic inorganic
industry with 15 percent.
• Georgia sugar refinery explosion kills 13 - Page 6
materials, will burn or
However, chemical manufac• Williams F&HC extinguishes sugar silo fires - Page 7
explode if finely divided and
turing accounted for 12
dispersed in sufficient
percent of these fires and
concentrations. Combustible dusts can be intentionally manufactured explosions. The rest were distributed among the primary metal industries,
powders, such as corn starch or aluminum powder coatings, or may be eight percent; rubber and plastic products, eight percent; electric services,
generated by handling and processing solid combustible materials such eight percent; fabricated metal products, seven percent; equipment
as wood and plastic pellets.
manufacturing, seven percent; furniture and fixtures, four percent; and
Polishing, grinding, transporting and shaping many of these materials others, seven percent.
can produce very small particles, which can easily become airborne and
The CSB’s combustible dust hazard study serves as a primer of
settle on surfaces, crevices, dust collectors and other equipment. Even basic concepts about dusts and dust explosions. It states that a key
seemingly small amounts of accumulated dust can cause catastrophic factor in the three 2003 dust explosions studied by the CSB was that
damage. The explosion that devastated a North Carolina plant in 2003 workers and managers were often unaware of dust explosion hazards or
and killed six workers was caused by dust accumulations that, for the failed to recognize the serious nature of those hazards.
most part, were less than a quarter of an inch.
And yet, the respect that Grandma had for flammable dust in her
Each of the three 2003 explosions investigated by the CSB provide
kitchen is not shared by all corners of modern industry. The dust threat
is most often identified with flour mills and grain elevators. Grain elevator case studies of the different ways dust becomes a devastating hazard. In
explosions throughout the 1970s, including five elevator explosions in all three cases, the CSB determined that the companies involved failed
December 1977 that killed 59 people, led to much research and stricter to adhere to relevant NFPA standards.
In the North Carolina incident, the rubber compounding process
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
But the aforementioned plant that exploded in 2003 produced rubber involved freshly milled rubber strips dipped into a slurry of
syringe plungers and other pharmaceutical devices. Two other polyethylene, water and surfactant to cool the rubber and provide an
catastrophic dust explosions that same year – one at a Kentucky plant anti-tack coating.
Continued on Page 11
specializing in acoustic insulation for cars and the other at an Indiana
Even small amounts of
accumulated dust can
result in fiery tragedy
4/24/2008, 3:58 PM
On February 7,
2008, a massive
explosion and fire
at a sugar refinery
located northwest
of Savannah, GA,
caused 13 deaths
and left many
others critically
injured with
severe burns. The
blast was likely
fueled by
sugar dust.
By Anton Riecher
ne emergency responder to a massive combustible dust explosion February 7 described the
collapsed interior of a four-story packing facility at an industrial refinery near Savannah,
GA., as being like the inside of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attack.
However, this particular refinery did not specialize in products normally considered hazardous.
The explosive responsible for the devastating blast was refined sugar.
Tod Heil, a team leader with the Georgia Search and Rescue (GSAR) Coastal Task Force, said the
risk of a secondary collapse existed for responders throughout the search for possible survivors in
the refinery ruins.
“We’ve got several different types of collapse – pancake collapse, lean to collapse,” Heil said.
“The lean to collapse provides void spaces where the floors have hinged down and there are places
of refuge where there could be possible victims.”
Unfortunately, rescue requires survivors. Eight fatalities were pulled from the rubble after the
blast and fires. By mid-March, further fatalities among the hospitalized had pushed the death toll to
13 with six survivors listed in critical condition. Dozen more were injured from the more than 100
workers who were present at the time of the explosion.
It took one week to extinguish the last smoldering sections of the damaged refinery. Williams Fire
& Hazard Control, a Texas-based team of industrial firefighters renown for extinguishing large
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
Below, an aerial photo of the smoldering refinery in Port
Wentworth, GA., taken the afternoon after an explosion. Fires
burned for almost a week in two of three sugar storage silos
damaged in the blast. Attempts to extinguish the silos using
helicopter water drops failed.
Dust Storm
Williams F&HC
beats different
fire medium
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard
diameter flammable liquid storage tank fires, successfully applied their
talents to fires lingering in two 80-foot (24 meter) storage silos.
Port Wentworth (GA.) Fire Chief Greg Long served as incident
commander throughout the emergency. The prompt, effective action
that responders took in the first moments of the disaster saved 85
percent of the surrounding industrial complex, he said. No evacuation
beyond the plant gates was required.
“We contained the fires to the areas in which it originated,” Long
said. “It never spread to the other buildings. That’s the reason why
they will be able to rebuild.”
Port Wentworth, population 4,000, is located on the Savannah River
in northwest Chatham County, just outside the city of Savannah. Long
became chief 19 months before the sugar refinery explosion.
His department consists of five paid firefighters, including Long,
and 14 volunteers. The two fire stations are staffed from 7 a.m. to 7
p.m., seven days a week with volunteers answering calls after hours.
exas-based Williams Fire & Hazard Control’s usual forte
is extinguishing flammable liquid fires in storage tanks
measuring hundreds of feet in diameter. But the intense,
stubborn fires after a devastating explosion at a sugar refinery in
Port Wentworth, GA., presented a different kind of challenge.
Savannah area responders handled the structural fire fighting
after the February 7 blast that wrecked nearly 20 percent of the
sprawling refinery and eventually claimed 13 lives. However,
high temperature fires inside two 40-foot (12 meter)-wide, 100foot (30.4 meter)-tall sugar silos defied local efforts, including
massive water drops from a helicopter.
Williams F&HC’s proven track record extinguishing silo fires
involves contents ranging from coal to shredded tires. The Port
Wentworth incident gave the company a chance to prove its
technique against a powdery target that normally does not qualify
as volatile.
Company spokesman Brent Gaspard said an attendee at last
year’s XTREME Industrial Fire & Hazard Training School
contacted Williams F&HC lead firefighter Chauncey Naylor
about tackling the persistent silo fires that burned five days.
“This fellow asked Chauncey if Williams F&HC had ever
put out a sugar fire,” Gaspard said. “Chauncey said no. When
asked if we had ever put out a silo fire. Chauncey said yes.
Basically, that’s how we got the job.”
Naylor and the Williams F&HC team arrived in Port
Wentworth on the afternoon of Feb. 12. Of the three sugar silos
surrounded by the collapsed structure of what had been the
refinery’s packaging area, two had the tops blown off and were
burning at nearly 4,000 degrees F (2,200 degrees C) inside.
Concerns about further collapses, including the impact of
continuous water drops on the silos, made a ground operation
“Chauncey determined that an over-the-top application was
the way to go,” Gaspard said. “Our guys did a lot of their work
from a basket lifted by a crane.”
Bringing adequate water to the fire proved to be the first
challenge. Naylor brought in a new Williams F&HC product, a
4,000 gpm (15,000 lpm) submersible pump called The NHancer.
Continued on Page 10
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
explosion and fire ripped through
the refinery’s packing area, a
four-story structure built around
the storage silos. In this area,
processed sugar was bagged then
sent off to the railcars to be
The U.S. Chemical Safety
Board, which has launched a
major investigation, has
preliminarily concluded that the
explosion was caused by
combustible sugar dust. When
dust builds to dangerous levels
in industrial worksites, it can
become fuel for fires and
explosions. Combustible dust
can come from many sources,
such as sugar, flour, feed, plastics,
wood, rubber, furniture, textiles,
pesticides, pharmaceuticals,
dyes, coal and metals.
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard
Rushing to the scene of the
The demolished packaging area of refinery complex surrounded three decapitated sugar silos.
explosion Long first spotted the
Equipment includes a Pierce Contender pumper, a heavy duty rescue rising column of smoke from 3½ miles (5.6 kilometers) away. The
unit, a first responder squad, a Bean Class A pumper, an E-One pumper weather was clear and calm, with most of the smoke rising straight up.
and a 5,800 gallon (22,000 liter) water tanker.
While en route, he wasted no time calling in help from neighboring
The sugar refinery is a 160-acre industrial site on the south shore of agencies.
the Savannah River on the Georgia-South Carolina border. Employing
“I brought in Garden City and the airport fire department, both of
about 400 workers, the refinery in Port Wentworth produces more than which border us,” Long said. “I also called the Pooler Fire Department
14 million hundredweight of sugar annually.
and, of course, the Savannah Fire Department, which is a large municipal
Founded at the same site in 1917, the refinery predates the department.”
incorporation of the city by 40 years. On the southside of the refinery
Firefighters from Port Wentworth’s closest fire station, only a mile
is an elementary school, a church and residential neighborhoods. Other (1.6 kilometers) away, were already on scene.
plants and housing lie west of the refinery and, to the east, is the
“They reported numerous fires, heavy smoke and structural
Georgia Port Authority.
collapse,” Long said. “Triage was being set up for a large number of
“Generations of families have worked there,” Long said. “Moms and casualties. They were also trying to set up accountability.”
dads worked at the sugar refinery, then their children.”
Firefighters were not able to immediately assess the extent of the
But despite all the history that binds the sugar refinery to Port damage to the refinery, he said.
Wentworth, Long’s fire department only became responsible for providing
“You’ve got five-story structures in front of two-story structures,”
fire protection at the facility six months before the explosion. The Long said. “Because of the way the refinery is laid out you just can’t
refinery is in an industrial area of Chatham County that cannot be see the whole facility at once.”
incorporated into any city without legislative action by the state.
Mainly affected was a four-story structure used for packaging, located
“So while the refinery is now in my fire district, it is not in my city,” in the center of the refinery. Heavy flames were apparent on the third
Long said. “We were still in the process of working with them to complete and fourth floors with spot fires on the second floor. Fire raged in four
a pre-plan.”
or five different locations on the first floor. Lids had blown off two
Although no formal mutual aid association exists covering the sugar storage silos. A packing area in front of the distribution warehouse
Savannah region, Long said area fire chiefs and emergency agencies have was also showing heavy fire.
recently been increasingly conscientious about working together to
Beside the area affected by the collapse, responders were concerned
provide aid to neighboring responders when needed.
about 150,000 gallons (570,000 liters) of diesel fuel in storage on site.
“I’ve been able to work very well with all the other chiefs,” he said.
“Most of what we did that first night was just trying to contain the
“We’ve done a lot of multi agency training. We’re able to know what fire,” Long said. “We were concerned about the collapse and the amount
resources are available to us within the three surrounding counties.”
of water that we were throwing into the area while trying to conduct
Long needed almost all those resources in Chatham, Effingham and search and rescue.”
Bryan counties to deal with the events of February 7. At 7:19 p.m., an
Most of the employees caught in the blast were able to escape
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
afterward with only minor problems with debris.
“If they had debris on them it was only a small amount,” Long said.
“Basically, they were just able to walk out of the heavily damaged
areas, thanks mainly to the safety equipment employees were required
to wear – hard hats, safety glasses and safety boots. Still, there were a
lot of burn injuries to the chest and leg areas.”
Responders spent the early minutes of the emergency quickly moving
the walking wounded into a safe zone away from the collapsed structure.
“We had an outstanding response from local medical personnel,”
Long said. “When the call went out it was just past shift change at the
three area hospitals, including the Level One trauma center in Savannah.
We had a trauma surgeon and nurses transported to the scene.”
Only three miles (4.8 k) away, the headquarters for a local ambulance
service dispatched their supervisors as well as personnel to the scene.
All of this was done within the first 20 minutes of the emergency, Long
Despite the number of different departments involved, radio
inoperability was not a problem. The entire region uses an 800 trunking
“We had five fire ground channels that were assigned to us and seven
different frequencies we were operating off of,” Long said. “We had just
installed a new dispatching system in January. We had four different
dispatchers assigned to us.”
Most emergency situations are handled locally, but when a major
incident happens help may be needed from other jurisdictions, the state
and the federal government. The National Incident Management System
was developed so responders from different jurisdictions and disciplines
can work together better to respond to natural disasters and emergencies,
including acts of terrorism. NIMS benefits include a unified approach
to incident management; standard command and management structures;
and emphasis on preparedness, mutual aid and resource management.
“We put NIMS into immediate effect,” Long said. “The other
departments fell in line based on their backgrounds and basic
qualifications. There were no egos, no problems and no communications
Arriving in those early minutes were personnel and apparatus from
the nearby fire departments. Most important were the big aerial
apparatus supplied by the Savannah Fire Department, Long said. But
water to supply the arriving apparatus was not immediately available.
“The blast damaged the water line to the refinery’s fire suppression
system,” Long said. “We had to bring tug boats in on the Savannah
River. Equipped with pumps, they were able to supply the aerials by
drafting from the river.” The Savannah area does not have a fully
operational heavy fire fighting fire boat.
However, safely conducting search and rescue operations would
require even more water than that. Locating a distant hydrant still
working, Long asked Effingham County firefighters to organize a tanker
“They were able to bring us five 3,500 gallon (13,200 liter) tankers,”
he said. “We put a pumper at the hydrant and then got the water
department to increase the water flow. We were able to keep a 75-foot
(23 meter) aerial ladder operational for seven hours. Effingham County
shuttles water better than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Twenty-eight separate fire suppression operations and search and
rescue missions were completed the first night thanks largely to a
consistent water supply, Long said.
Responders commandeered an office at the refinery to establish an
incident command post.
“That gave us room to stretch out the diagrams and set up the
accountability officer, the logistics officer and the planning officer,”
Long said. “Each one was given their own quadrant inside this large
room. We were able to better coordinate and know exactly what was
going on throughout the entire refinery.”
A second incident command tasked with search and rescue operations
was established next to the first.
“Teams were assigned to section commanders,” Long said. “Each
commander was assigned a very limited, specific area to search, and
then told to report back. While conducting search and rescue they were
also making damage assessments. We were able to pull seven more
employees out.”
Helicopter landing zones were soon established to bring in medical
flights from as far away as Augusta. Long was also able to activate
medical resources from adjoining counties.
“We had 56 EMS units at our disposal,” he said. “Seven of the
injured were flown immediately and 47 more transported by ground
transport, all within the first 58 minutes of the emergency.”
Accountability with regard to identifying those rescued and missing
was established within two hours. A separate area of the incident
command center was set aside for the refinery manager and shift
superintendent to coordinate accountability, dispatching plant personnel
to area hospitals to obtain the names of patients transported.
“The Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta is the regional burn
center for Georgia and it is about two hours away,” Long said. “Several
of the severely burned were flown to Augusta, so it took that much time
to get some accountability.”
Another delay in establishing the employees present at the time of
the blast related to problems with the refinery’s electronic accountability
“Whenever an employee comes to work their name goes into an
electronic database,” Long said. “The problem was that the power
station on scene was blown. So we had to take their electronic files to
another location to be downloaded.”
Aside from refinery workers, two contractors had personnel on the
scene. Contacting supervisors for those companies to establish
accountability also took several hours.
By comparison, the search for the missing took many days. For
GSAR, the regional urban search and rescue team, the refinery fire and
collapse was only the second time the team had been activated. The
first time was an out-of-state operation related to Hurricane Katrina.
Rescuers used search dogs and special cameras lowered into voids in the
collapsed structure.
Four days later, smoldering fires continued to hamper efforts to
find at least two missing workers. To combat the silo fires, a helicopter
used by Chatham County for mosquito control and wildland fire fighting
made more than 120 water drops using a 120-gallon (450 liter) bucket.
The attempt proved unsuccessful.
“The pilot was very precise, dropping the water right into the opening
from about 10 feet (3 meters) above the silos,” Long said. “It just
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
Continued from Page 7
Because the on site fire water tank was depleted, the firefighters
were forced to draft from the nearby Savannah River.
“Even though the pump was a couple of thousand feet away we
were able to supply the entire fire water response needs from the
river,” Gaspard said. “The NHancer sat in the river and brought the
water to two supply pumps. The supply pumps were used in relay
to increase and maintain pressure for fire response. We laid down
Double 5 large 7¼-diameter fire hose to initiate the response.”
Firefighters were able to maintain a pressure of 150 psi (10 B)
before elevation, he said. The NHhancer was lowered from a crane
and its depth constantly monitored by the crane operator.
“There is a six-to-eight foot (1.8 to 2.5 meter) differential in the
tides of that river, so what he did is basically elevate and lower that
pump with the rising and lowering of the water,” Gaspard said.
Working closely with local contractor Savannah Bridge and Crane,
Williams F&HC fabricated standpipes next to the collapsed building.
“That allowed us to get the large diameter hose up and over
debris adjacent to the silos, working the hose up the adjacent stairwell
tower,” Gaspard said.
With the first burning silo, firefighters took a standard Williams
F&HC 95 gpm (360 L) Foam Wand, an unmanned device designed to
expand and deliver foam into remote, hazardous areas, and fabricated
an extension with an Elkhart distributor nozzle on the end. Normally,
wasn’t enough water for the temperatures we were fighting. Most of it
would steam off before it actually hit.”
Of the two 40-foot(12-meter)-diameter silos involved, one was filled
to 55 feet (16 meters) and other to 75 feet (23 meters). Thermal imaging
showed that a 10 to 12 foot layer at the top was burning at 4,000
degrees F (2,200 degrees C). The water dumps were only able to lower
that temperature to 2,800 degrees F (1,500 degrees C).
By Wednesday the 13th, the area left to be searched had been
narrowed to roughly 200 square feet (60 meters) in what had formerly
been a second-floor break room. Meanwhile, Williams F&HC prepared
to attack the silo fires using special equipment flown in from Texas.
“We do have a good plan that we do believe is going to be effective,”
said Chauncey Naylor, emergency service v.p. for Williams F&HC.
Using pumps capable of 6,000 gpm (22,700 L), the Williams F&HC
team planned to clamp monitor nozzles at the top of the silos and shoot
foam and water into the fires below. The result lowered the temperature
at the top of the stored sugar to 70 degrees F (21 degrees C).
The last fires in the refinery were extinguished on Thursday. That
night responders found the body of the refinery’s packaging manager,
the last of eight workers missing after the initial explosion to be found.
In total, Port Wentworth firefighters spent eight days on duty at the
refinery. Still, it was at least 20 days before the department got back to
a normal schedule, Long said.
“If the investigators want to go into certain areas of the damaged
refinery that are still dangerous our firefighters are escorting them.”
On March 12, CSB board member and interim executive William E.
the Foam Wand hangs over the rim of a burning tank. In this case it
was lowered deep into the burning silo. An application rate of 0.5
percent was used.
“It was very effective,” Gaspard said.
In tribute to the contribution made by local firefighters, Port
Wentworth Fire Chief Greg Long was given the honor of opening the
valves that initiated the silo fire response.
Operations moved to the next burning silo immediately adjacent
to the refinery’s stairwell tower. Williams F&HC personnel fabricated
special brackets that allowed firefighters to secure two mini-Daspit
monitors to the tower as well as a full-sized Daspit to apply water
and foam applications into the silos from above. Full sized Daspits
are usually secured to the rim of large diameter storage tanks to deal
with rim fires and vapor suppression.
“The Daspit shooting down into that second burning silo was
elevated almost 100 feet (30.4 meters) off the ground,” Gaspard
said. “At that elevation you’re going to lose some pressure. Yet we
were maintaining more than 100 psi (45 K), enough to maintain
multiple attacks.”
When tackling crude oil fires, Williams F&HC firefighters employ
a technique known as “the tease.” That technique came into play at
Port Wentworth.
“The top layer of crude, possibly as deep as three or four feet,
will be above the boiling point of water somewhere between 400 and
500 degrees F (200 to 260 degrees C),” Williams F&HC CFO/
chairman Dwight Williams once explained. “If the monitor stream
Wright testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Education
and Labor Committee in support of a comprehensive standard for
combustible dust, as recommended by the CSB’s 2006 Combustible
Dust Hazard Study.
Regular cleaning and removal of accumulated dust, using safe and
proper methods — commonly referred to as housekeeping — is
important for reducing the likelihood of dust explosions, Wright said.
Before the explosion the Port Wentworth refinery had a regular
housekeeping and cleanliness program to maintain food quality and
safety and to protect workers from slips and other injuries.
Dust explosions in sugar refineries have happened before. In
November, an explosion blew out windows and started a fire at a historic
sugar refinery on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. No serious injuries were
reported. Authorities report that employees were working on a dust
collection unit at the time of the explosion.
However, the explosion in Port Wentworth took that potential risk
to a new level.
“This is the first time as far as we have been able to discover that an
explosion of this size has occurred in an industrial sugar refinery,” Long
Debate continues at the state and federal level over the risk of
combustible dust explosions and the possible need for new regulations.
Yet, as much as possible, the owners of the Port Wentworth refinery
had been diligent in preparing to deal with an emergency of such
magnitude if it ever happened, Long said.
“Their records were up to date and accurate,” he said. “They were
adamant that they should be as prepared as they could be for such an
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
hits the hot crude all at once it would jump right out of the tank.”
The solution is to work the stream back and forth across the
surface, slowly bringing the temperature down.
“That’s what we did in Port Wentworth because the structure of
those silos used concrete,” Gaspard said. “Chauncey didn’t want
any vapor expansion going on inside, blowing those walls apart.”
Local firefighters employing water drops were only able to bring
the temperature in the silos down from 4,000 degrees F (2,200
degrees C) to 2,800 degrees F (1,500 degrees C). At the end of the
Williams F&HC operation, the temperature in the silos was only 62
degrees F (16 degrees C).
In total, Williams F&HC spent one afternoon for site assessment
Continued from Page 5
As the rubber dried, fine polyethylene powder drifted on air currents
to the space above a suspended ceiling. While the visible production
areas were kept extremely clean, the powder accumulated above the
suspended ceiling, providing fuel for a devastating secondary explosion.
The plant’s safety review process when the compounding system
was designed and modified never addressed the dust explosion hazard.
MSDS for the polyethylene slurry included no dust explosion warning.
Workers had not been trained about the potential hazard.
Despite inspections by OSHA, firefighters, an insurance underwriter
and an industrial hygienist, the dust hazard remained unidentified.
Electrical equipment above the suspended ceiling was not rated for use
around combustible dust as required by the National Electric Code.
“Even a seasoned expert in the control of combustible dust hazards
would have been hard pressed to recognize that problem because the
working area wasn’t dusty,” Blair said. “If that expert had spent two or
three hours and seen those workers constantly wiping up, he might
have started to think about what was in that dust.”
No specific source of ignition for the explosion was determined.
“When we investigated in North Carolina, everyone we interviewed
said the same thing – ‘There is no way dust did this,’” Blair said. “Six
months later when we made our public presentation, we took a half
teaspoon of the powder that caused it and set off a tiny dust explosion
on stage. That finally got it through to them.”
In Kentucky, the manufacturing process began by impregnating a
fiberglass mat with phenolic resin and then used air to draw the resin
into the fiberglass webs, the CSB report states. On the day of the
explosion, a curing oven left open because of a temperature control
problem likely ignited the combustible resin dust stirred up by workers
cleaning the area near the oven.
The CSB found that the building was not designed to prevent or
minimize secondary dust explosions, such as using fire walls to separate
production lines. Dust had accumulated in dangerous amounts throughout
the production areas, in vent ducting and in dust collector housings.
Workers routinely used compressed air and brooms to clean production
lines, creating clouds of resin dust.
Again, an MSDS failed to communicate that the material posed a
dust explosion hazard. Although the Kentucky Office of Occupational
Safety and Health had inspected the facility, no citations regarding
combustible dust had been issued. The facility had never been inspected
and equipment requisition, one day for set up and complete
extinguishment and a final day for break down and return home.
Williams F&HC was even able to help local firefighters deal with
the last of the lingering structural fires.
“The municipal responders were dealing with a lot of little ground
fires because of all the paper used in packaging the sugar,” Gaspard
said. “They were having to go back and put these fires out a second
or third time.”
Williams F&HC provided foam for the municipal foam truck
using the pump system. The results were immediate.
“Getting foam into their response methods made a big difference,”
Gaspard said. “Their mission was finished.”
by the state fire marshal. The Kentucky explosion killed seven workers
and injured 37.
In Indiana, one worker died and several others were injured in an
explosion involving equipment used to re-melt scrap aluminum. The
scrap was chopped into small chips, pneumatically conveyed to the
scrap processing area, dried and fed into a melt furnace. Transporting
and drying the chips generated dust that was pulled into a dust collector.
The CSB determined that the explosion likely originated in the dust
collector, which had not been adequately vented or cleaned, and was
located too close to the aluminum scrap processing area. The collector
was not designed or maintained to prevent dust explosions, nor to
prevent spread through the ducting. When the dust accumulated, a large
fireball emerged from the furnace. Dust had not been cleaned from
overhead beams and other structures, leading to a secondary explosion.
“The dust collector was not properly located,” Blair said. “It was
too close to the building. The explosion wave propagated quickly back
into the building where the people were.”
Locating the collector further away might have meant more time for
a sensor-controlled quick closing isolation valve, if one had been installed,
to activate as the flame front moved through the system. Isolation
valves direct an explosion to a benign location, minizing its effect.
Previous dust fires at the facility had gone uninvestigated. The Indiana
Occupational Safety and Health Administration had not identified dust
explosion hazards during previous facility inspections.
Strangely enough, the 2006 CSB report focusing on these three
incidents and others was followed by an uncharacteristic lull in major
dust explosions – until Port Wentworth.
“The reason it has been so long is likely not simply because industry
is doing a better job,” Blair said.
The classic fire triangle consists of fuel, oxygen and ignition. A dust
explosion requires two additional elements – dust suspension and
confinement. Suspended dust burns more rapidly, and confinement
allows for pressure buildup. Without suspension or confinement, an
explosion is not possible. Further, the concentration of suspended dust
must be within a particular range to explode, somewhat like the
flammability range of vapors. The lowest amount of dust in air that will
explode is referred to as the minimum explosible concentration.
NFPA defines a combustible dust as any finely divided solid material
that is 420 microns or smaller in diameter. The particle size of table salt
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
is around 100 microns. Finer particles are more explosive because they
have large surface areas relative to their weight, allowing them to rapidly
react with oxygen when dispersed. Other factors that influence
explosiveness include moisture, ambient humidity, oxygen, dust particle
shape and the dust concentration.
Many solid or bulk materials may not be explosive but may generate
combustible dusts through handling or processing. Plastic pellets shipped
from a polyethylene plant rarely pose an explosion hazard until they
are handled and generate small particles as part of a different process.
Likewise, aqueous solutions of a combustible material may try to produce
a combustible dust.
Dust explosions can either be primary or secondary. A primary dust
explosion occurs when a dust suspension within a container, room or
piece of equipment is ignited and explodes. The secondary explosion
occurs when dust accumulated on floors or other surfaces is lofted and
ignited by the primary explosion. The blast wave from the secondary
explosion can cause accumulated dust in other areas to become suspended
in air, which may generate additional dust explosions.
“A primary dust explosion typically occurs inside a piece of
equipment,” Blair said. “Secondary explosions are often caused by
poor housekeeping, accumulations that are not cleaned up.”
Depending on the extent of the dust deposits, a weak primary
explosion may cause very powerful secondary explosions. However,
the initiating event for a secondary dust explosion might not be a dust
explosion at all, the CSB report states.
The best way to prevent secondary dust explosions is to eliminate
the dust. Good housekeeping, designing and maintaining equipment to
prevent dust leaks, using dust collectors, eliminating flat surfaces where
dust can accumulate and sealing hard-to-clean areas can effectively
prevent secondary dust explosions.
The CSB warns that proper equipment and techniques to clean
combustible dust accumulations must be used. Care must be taken to
minimize dust clouds, and use only vacuum cleaners approved for
combustible dust locations.
Several of the incidents studied by the CSB involved dust explosions
that spread through pipes or vent ducts, from one piece of equipment
to other equipment or other areas of the facility. Pressure can increase
as the explosion moves from one location to the next, increasing the
“One way to eliminate dust accumulation is to have a dust collector,”
Blair said. “Suction hoods over the equipment serve as point collectors,
sucking up the dust from various locations in the plant, transporting it
through duct work to some kind of device separating the dust from the
air, either a filter unit, a cycling separator or a bag house filter.”
In moving the dust, the collection system concentrates it in various
locations. This can become fuel for a potential explosion. Constant
maintenance is required to prevent the collection system from becoming
a source of danger instead of safety. If the worst happens, the system
must be designed to deal with it.
“It has to have explosion venting,” Blair said. “It must be vented
properly and vented to a safe location. Putting it most simply, the way
you vent a dust collector is to put a big blowout panel on it that flies
open when an explosion happens.”
NFPA standards for dust collectors consider the risk of propagation,
with recommendations to provide isolation valves or distance to
minimize chances of a dust explosion spreading.
NFPA’s two principal voluntary consensus standards to prevent
and control dust explosion risks are NFPA 654 and NFPA 484. NFPA
654 details the hazards of combustible dusts, specifies building
construction requirements and the type of equipment to use in dusthandling operations. It addresses selection and design of protective
systems by referencing other NFPA standards. NFPA 654 recommends
analyzing processes for hazards, controlling dust and ignition sources,
constructing the building to address dust hazards and training employees.
NFPA 484 applies to fine particles of metals, including aluminum. It
is distinct from NFPA 654 because the nature of metallic dusts makes
them exceptionally vulnerable to ignition. Once ignited, metal dusts
release a large amount of energy, making some of the protective systems
required by NFPA 654 inappropriate. NFPA 484 details equipment
design and explosion protection systems. It also requires that
management systems address combustible dust hazards.
Other NFPA standards related to combustible dust explosion hazards
include NFPA 61 (fires and dust explosions in agricultural and food
processing facilities), NFPA 68 (deflagration venting), NFPA 69
(explosion prevention systems), NFPA 70 (National Electric Code),
NFPA 499 (classifying dust processing locations for electrical equipment
installation), NFPA 655 (prevention of sulfur fires and explosions) and
NFPA 664 (wood processing and woodworking facilities). In regard to
NFPA 499, some categories of dust are electrically conductive. Current
can pass through a layer of such dust causing short circuits or arcs.
“Our report did not recommend any changes in the NFPA standards,”
Blair said. “The explosions we investigated were potentially preventable
had the NFPA standards been implemented the way they were written.”
The only comprehensive OSHA standard that addresses combustible
dust hazards is the 1987 Grain Handling Facilities Standard that has
effectively reduced the risk of dust explosions in grain handling. OSHA
lacks a comprehensive standard to require general industry to implement
the dust explosion prevention and mitigation measures embodied in
NFPA fire standards.
“Although OSHA has cited employers for dust explosion hazards,
most OSHA enforcement activities related to combustible dust hazards
have been in response to incidents, rather than focusing on prevention,”
the CSB report states.
Most states adopt one of two national fire codes – the IFC or UFC
– which incorporate, through NFPA consensus standards, principles
and practices that can help prevent and mitigate combustible dust
explosions. While the technical guidance in the NFPA standards is widely
considered to be effective, the U.S. fire code system allows states to
adopt only parts of it and local jurisdictions to adopt different codes
from the states.
Implementing comprehensive changes or improvements to effectively
tackle the problem of dust explosions on a national scale is difficult, the
CSB report states. Code enforcement often varies across states and
smaller jurisdictions. Training programs for fire inspectors do not
generally cover combustible dust hazards.
It does not come marked with a hazmat placard. You might be able to
write your name in it, but otherwise it seems invisible. Dust is common
and inevitable in many work environments. The best way to eliminate
the danger of a combustible dust explosion is through engineering design
and by enforcing work practices and guidelines.
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
CSB video details 2005 Texas City blast
hree years after the explosion that killed 15 workers and
injured 180 others at an oil refinery in Texas City, TX, the
U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a new,
comprehensive safety video that describes the causes of the accident
and key safety lessons.
The new 56-minute video, Anatomy of a Disaster, is available for
viewing in the Video Room of the CSB’s website,
DVDs of the video will be provided at no charge through the online
request form at
The accident occurred on March 23, 2005, during the startup of
the refinery’s octane-boosting isomerization unit, when a distillation
tower and attached blowdown drum were overfilled with flammable
liquid hydrocarbons. Because the blowdown drum vented directly
to the atmosphere, there was a geyser-like release of flammable
liquid, forming a vapor cloud that spread rapidly through the area. A
OSHA fines
Texas refinery
he U.S. Department of Labor’s
Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) has
cited a Port Arthur, TX, refinery,
proposing penalties totaling $101,750
for alleged safety violations.
OSHA issued the citations in April
alleging 13 serious, two repeat and one
other-than-serious violation following
an investigation that began Oct. 16,
2007. The inspection was initiated as
part of OSHA’s National Emphasis
Program for petroleum refineries. The
refinery has about 830 employees.
“We are pleased that (the refinery)
has expressed a willingness to take
quick, corrective actions in resolving the
safety and health violations,” said Dean
McDaniel, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas.
Serious violations include failing to
implement accurate process safety
information, provide employees with
accurate operating procedures, have an
adequate system in place to advance
recommendations from process hazard
analysis and correct equipment
deficiencies. A serious violation is one
with potential to serious physical harm
to employees when the employer knew
or should have known of the hazard.
diesel pickup truck that was idling nearby ignited the vapor, initiating
a series of explosions and fires that swept through the unit and the
surrounding area. Fatalities and injuries occurred in and around
occupied work trailers, which were placed too close to the
isomerization unit and which were not evacuated prior to the startup.
The safety video includes a new nine-minute 3-D computer
animation of the sequence of events that led to the explosion, as well
as sections describing BP’s safety culture, the human factor safety
issues that contributed to the accident, and the importance of safe
equipment design and trailer siting.
The video also features interviews with key members of the CSB
investigative team, who completed the 341-page public report on
the causes of the accident approved by the Board. Board Member
William Wright discusses safety recommendations from the accident
and key safety lessons from the Board’s investigation.
OSHA renews foundry alliance
he Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American
Foundry Society (AFS) recently renewed their Alliance, with a continued goal of
providing safety and health information related
to personal protective equipment, heat stress,
and reducing and preventing exposure to silica
among employees in the metalcasting industry.
”OSHA and AFS have made significant accomplishments over the past two years,” said
Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin G. Foulke,
Jr. “Our Alliance will continue to work together
to provide AFS members and metalcasting businesses with free guidance and training resources
to protect the well-being of employees in the
foundry industry.”
Through the Alliance, AFS developed a
manual that provides information to help control the potential hazards of respirable crystalline silica. AFS also developed a guide on
personal protective equipment and special
clothing for foundry operations to help reduce
the risks of exposure to foundry hazards.
OSHA and AFS representatives spoke at conferences and meetings including the AFS Environmental Health and Safety Conference and
the 111th Metalcasting Congress. AFS continues to serve on the editorial boards of OSHA
Safety and Health Topics pages regarding Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout);
Heat Stress; Lead; Powered Industrial Trucks;
Silica, Crystalline; and Ventilation.
Pipeline Corp. wins API award
PI awarded its 2007 Distinguished
Award for Outstanding Safety and Environmental Performance to the Portland Pipe Line Corp. in April. This is API’s
highest safety and environmental performance
award for pipeline operators. Mark Hurley,
President of Shell Pipeline and Chair of API’s
Pipeline Committee, presented the award at
API’s Pipeline Conference in Orlando, FL.
Portland won the Distinguished Award in
the small operator category. No large operator
won the Distinguished Award this year. However, Marathon Pipeline LLC received the Special Recognition Award for a Large Operator in
recognition of the company’s continued strong
environmental and safety performance.
Maine-based Portland Pipe Line Corporation operates a crude oil pipeline and terminals. It won the Distinguished Award for its
sustained achievement of zero injuries, zero
vehicle accidents, and zero spills in each of the
previous three years, as well as its set of initiatives, management systems, and actions
taken to accomplish this.
Environmental Performance Awards went
to CITGO Pipeline Company, Equistar Chemicals, LP – Equistar Pipelines, Genesis Energy,
Inc., Portland Pipe Line Corporation and Marathon Pipeline LLC.
Occupational Safety Performance Awards
went to the Portland Pipe Line Corporation
and Koch Pipeline Company, LP.
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
Photos Courtesy of Gimaex
At left, the Gimaex One Seven compressed air foam system mounted on an industrial fire truck, at right, in use in
Blaichach, Germany. The One Seven system is unique in that it can be built-in, retrofitted or used as a portable system.
One Seven System
European industry embraces CAF systems
n Europe, industrial fire brigades are beginning to pay real attention
to the advantages of compressed air foam systems, in particular the
One Seven® fire extinguishing system manufactured by Gimaex
International, operating in Germany, France and now America.
In Germany, Robert Bosch GmbH, part of the Bosch Group,
manufactures ABS antilock braking systems, the ESP electronic stability
program for automotive braking systems, and sensor and ignition coils
for gasoline engines at its Blaichach location. The facility is home to an
eco-friendly 100-year-old hydroelectric power plant.
After extensive research, Bosch chose to protect its Blaichach facility
with a new Gimaex TLFA 1000 fire fighting truck equipped with a One
Seven® system. The system can produce 8,000 liters (2,114 gallons) of
One Seven® foam using 1,000 liters (250 gallons) of water, 7,000 liters
(1,800 gallons) of air and three liters (.79 gallon) of One Seven® foam
Making air aspirated foam is largely a matter of hydraulics. However,
compressed air foam systems merge hydraulics with pneumatic
technology to produce a richer, thicker, higher-quality fire fighting foam
and extend the reach of the unit’s nozzle.
CAFS, long accepted as an important tool in wildland fire fighting, is
gaining ground in other areas of the fire service, including industrial fire
fighting. Aspirated nozzles create finished foam at the working end of
the hose. By use of an eductor or direct injection, air is sucked into the
nozzle causing the pressurized combination of foam solution and water
to exit as foam.
With CAFS, the process starts much earlier. Foam is produced by
combining pressurized air with water and foam concentrate at the unit’s
pump. When it exits the hose under pressure, the foam has a rich, thick
consistency most often compared to shaving cream.
Compared to foam aspirated at the nozzle, CAFS foam has an almost
microscopic bubble structure that makes it long lasting and able to stick
to vertical surfaces such as threatened exposures. Energy from the air
compressor greatly extends the discharge reach. Because the hose is
mostly filled with air instead of water, it weighs less and is easier to
move. Pressure loss due to elevation is drastically reduced. The system
is also extremely economical as to the amount of water and foam
concentrate used.
One Seven® is a highly efficient fire extinguishing medium using
minimal volumes of water. By adding the unique One Seven® foam
concentrate and pressurized air to the water, one drop of water volume
expands to form seven foam bubbles. The surface area of a water droplet
is thereby distributed on the surface of seven foam bubbles. The expanded
surface area embodies helpful characteristics.
The One Seven® extinguishing foam has been effectively used in
portable applications for years. The portable systems range in size,
providing an appropriate system for any fire fighting application. More
than one third of Gimaex employees are in volunteer fire departments,
assuring a constant feedback of operational know-how, recent experience
and comprehensive knowledge.
Gimaex’s One Seven® is the combination of a specially constructed
system and a specially developed foam concentrate. The foam concentrate
is a micro-cellular, homogenous structure with reproducible
characteristics that includes:
- A large surface area which provides a strong cooling capacity (-50
degrees F[10 degrees C]/sec).
- High energy content that provides high velocity and deep
penetration. The slight surface tension and high penetrating capacity of
the medium even at low mixing ratios produces a rapid and deep
penetration into the fuel, cooling the interior of the fuel to prevent
- Adhesive properties that cool the fuel, not the flames.
- Strong wetting capability that penetrates the fuel.
- Environmentally friendly and biodegradable.
Continued on Page 26
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
DuPont introduces short-chain fluorine-efficient
products for producing surfactants that reduce the
environmental impact of Class B fire fighting foams
erformance rather than
environmental impact continues
to be the deciding factor when
choosing between fluorinated
versus fluorine-free fire fighting
foam, said a DuPont Chemical executive
introducing of a new line of fluorotelomer
Thomas H. Samples, Surface Protection
Solutions global business manager for DuPont
Chemical Solutions Enterprise, said the new
Capstone products reduce to less than the
current published limit of detection the biopersistent compounds (or entities) that have
plagued fluorine compounds in fire foam.
“It’s pretty important to know that the
performance of the foam is going to extinguish
the fire in such a way that it will not reignite,
better protecting the firefighters,” Samples said.
“The debate is about how much performance
people are willing to give up in order to use
fluorine-free alternatives.”
Introduced in March, DuPont’s Capstone
products are available as fluorinated compounds
for use in surfactants utilized to manufacture
existing brands of fire fighting foams. Within
the next 18 months, repellants and surfactants
made from Capstone will also be offered for
use in manufacturing home furnishings, leather
goods, paper packaging and textiles.
“Our products are surfactants that are added
to products like aqueous film forming foam
(AFFF) to provide the film forming capabilities
such as properties of extinguishment and that
prevent burnback,” Samples said.
No plans exist for DuPont to directly
compete in the fire fighting foam market.
As the largest global manufacturer and
supplier of fluorotelomers such as Capstone,
DuPont plans to adapt its entire product line
by year-end 2010 to utilize short-chain
chemistry, a scientific process that reduces the
potential for trace impurities in fluorinated
compounds at the molecular level. Short chain
molecules can not break down to PFOA in the
Traditional fluorotelomer - based products
involve substances where the fluorochemical
portion is made up of a mixture of
perfluorinated chain lengths that range in length
from six to 16, with the majority containing
eight. In DuPont short-chain fluorotelomers,
the fluorochemical portion is made up of six or
fewer perfluorinated carbons.
Despite the difference from traditional
fluorotelomer products, DuPont Capstone is
extremely compatible with other brands of
fluorinated compounds being used in fire foams.
Capstone will be listed on existing global
regulatory clearances, including the United
States (the Toxic Substances Control Act) and
Europe (the European Inventory of Existing
Commercial Substances).
However, in the U.K. and other parts of the
globe, fluorine-free fire fighting foams are being
touted as the solution to environmental issues
linked to fluorinated compounds.
Dr. Stephen H. Korzeniowski, Surface
Protection Solution technical manager for
DuPont, said fluorine-free foams have some
limits in burnback resistance when compared
to current AFFF-based foams. This is
particularly true in Class B fires such as large
volume petroleum fires, foams without fluorine
cannot deliver the performance possible with
fluorine foam.
“The debate is really about how quickly
you put the fire out and does it stay out?” he
said. “Can you save the property and
equipment and protect the firefighters? If
you’ve got a refinery with gasoline or crude,
how do you save those goods, what we refer
to as value in use?”
Fluorine-free fire foams have environmental
questions as well. While not as environmentally
persistent as fluorinated compounds, the
fluorine free foams have proven to be toxic to
aquatic life, Korzeniowski said.
Fluorinated compounds, while effective as
key ingredients in AFFF foams, have been an
environmental flashpoint for foam makers since
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
It’s pretty important to know that the performance of the
foam is going to extinguish the fire in such a way that it
will not reignite, better protecting the firefighters. The
debate is about how much performance people are
willing to give up in order to use fluorine-free alternatives.
Thomas H. Samples, Surface Protection Solutions global
business manager, DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise
early this decade. One major foam
manufacturer, 3M, abandoned production in
2000 due to the environmental persistence and
bio-accumulation properties of perfluorooctanyl sulfonate (PFOS), a specific compound
resulting from a 3M process known as electrochemical fluorination.
“With respect to the 3M product, there was
a potential for biopersistence in the
environment, meaning
availability for biouptake and a long
accumulation in
biota,” Korzeniowski
said. “With the compounds we’re introducing
and the ones we’ve had on the market, the
relative biopersistence is much, much lower.
In fact, the uptake and clearance from
organisms is very fast compared to the other
As opposed to electro-chemical fluorination,
DuPont and other companies making
fluorinated compounds for use in fire foam
utilize a process known as telomerization that
is free of PFOS. 3M stopped production of
PFOS-based foam agents in 2002. Regulations
prevent the manufacture of new PFOS-based
foam agents, but do not restrict the use of
existing stocks. However, the European Union
and Canada are proposing to ban the use of
existing PFOS-based fire foam stocks within
the next five years.
Prompting DuPont’s move to short-chain
chemistry in its fluorotelomer products is
perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) found at trace
levels as an unintended byproduct.
PFOA, also persistent in the environment,
has been detected at low levels (average 5 ppb)
in the blood of the general population. It has
been studied extensively in an occupational
setting where potential exposure can be
significantly higher than that of the general
“DuPont believes the weight of evidence
indicates that PFOA exposure does not pose a
health risk to the general public,” DuPont
literature states. “To date, there are no human
health effects known to be caused by PFOA,
although study of the chemical continues.”
As an alternative to abandoning fluorinated
compounds in fire foams, significant effort is
being made to develop technologies to recover
fire water runoff and treat it to extract the spent
fire fighting agents, Korzeniowski said. Another
step is to reduce the use of fluorinated foam in
training exercises as opposed to
actual fire fighting.
Economic factors
point to a healthy
future for fluorinated fire fighting
foams, Samples said.
First, a tremendous
amount of infra structure is
being built with regard to oil production
and refineries. Likewise, a tremendous amount
of infra structure is going up with regard to oil
alternatives such as alcohol and bio fuels,
Samples said.
“The polar solvents require alcohol resistant
AFFF products,” he said. “That infra structure
growth is driving demand for the synthetic
Also, regions such as Eastern Europe, the
Middle East and China are moving to stricter
standards in protecting their industrial
facilities, driving demand for these products
even higher, Samples said.
According to Korzeniowski, fluorinated fire
fighting foams still have a strong chance at
surviving increasingly stringent regulation,
thanks to organizations such as the Fire
Fighting Foam Coalition. Yet, there will be
situations in the future where choosing fluorine
free foam will be the preferred alternative.
“We need to be realistic,” Korzeniowski
said. “There is going to be a place for fluorine
free chemicals. What has yet to be defined is
what that place will be.”
Samples said DuPont continues to put the
end user of its fluorotelomer products first,
considering the risks they face.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from industry
that we need to deliver performance as well as
environmental sustainability,” he said. “That’s
our intent.”
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
Robert Wood receives annual Connie Award
edicated to assisting emergency responders from behind the
scene, Robert Wood from Lumberton, TX, received the Connie
Award at the 23rd Industrial Fire World Emergency Responder
Conference & Exposition. Although Wood retired from Chevron in 1989,
he continues to help emergency responders save lives and property.
He serves on the Beaumont Emergency Services
Training Complex Board of Directors and the Hardin
County Emergency Services District #2 (Lumberton
Fire and EMS) board, and he is a founding member of
Sabine Neches Chiefs Association. Wood also helped
found industrial fire training at Emergency Safety
Training Institute (ESTI) at Texas A&M University
and served as an instructor and advisory board
member, retired Chief Henry Smith with ESTI said.
“We weren’t this large a group, but all the guys worked together real
well and they knew each other,” Wood said. “When we had an emergency,
we didn’t worry as much about what was right, what was wrong, what
was legal and what wasn’t then. We would just respond. Of course, we
didn’t have a lot of these rules and regulations we’ve got today, but we
helped each other.”
Since serving as fire chief for Gulf, which became Chevron, Wood
has seen the development of industrial emergency response firsthand.
His most valuable lesson learned is to know the strengths and
backgrounds of team members to best use their talents in an emergency.
“I had the idea to pick the people with different talents,” Wood said.
“That way any emergency you go to, there is someone there who has
some background and knowledge in that area. They might have some
medical talents, accounting skills, equipment maintenance or people
skills. We needed people who spoke foreign languages, which is very
important to us with ships from all over the world docking at our
terminal. Whatever we needed, we just took it and used it. When
something happens in the night or on the weekends, you don’t have
time to call people from town to come out and respond to take care of
you. If you’ve got a big leak, you’ve got to stop it as quickly as possible.”
Wood remembers the days when industry and agriculture worked
hand in hand. The plant cafeteria provided slop for hogs on the premises,
cattle grazed in the area surrounding the levies and an on-site ice house
provided the ice blocks to preserve butchered cattle used in the cafeteria.
He keeps current with the needs, expectations and direction that the
field strives to achieve. His continued involvement through professional
organizations and experienced colleagues helps keep training relevant
and timely and provides new leaders a realistic perspective for managing
the challenges of the day.
The Connie Award, created to honor the memory of Roberts
Company, Inc. co-owner Connie Gross, annually recognizes an
individual for his or her commitment to supporting the fire and emergency
response industry by taking responsibility for the tasks and relationships
that are not always evident to the masses.
4/25/2008, 9:45 AM
On February 18, 2008, an explosion rocked
a 70,000-barrels-per-day oil refinery in Big
Springs, TX, destroying a propylene
recovery unit and igniting a catalytic
cracker and three storage tanks.
Trouble on
Refinery T
Photo Courtesy of Texas Forest Service
oo many municipal firefighters have not
been given the opportunity to learn more
than that an oil refinery is as alien
territory. A confusing maze of coolers,
blowers, boilers, columns, compressors,
exchangers, filters, heaters, pipes,
pumps, tanks, valves and vessels
confront responders whenever some
overwhelming emergency beckons them to help the
in-house brigade.
Fortunately, Chief Tommy Sullivan of the Howard
County (TX) Volunteer Fire Department is familiar
with the inner workings of refineries. Before becoming
chief, Sullivan worked at the 70,000-barrels-per-day
refinery in Big Springs, TX, for six years, serving on
its Red Hat fire brigade and training with Williams
Fire & Hazard Control.
On February 18, Sullivan put all that experience to
good use. A thunderous explosion registering 2.1 on
the Richter scale rocked the Big Springs refinery,
destroying a propylene recovery unit, igniting other
unit fires and at least three storage tanks.
“As soon as I stepped out the door I knew it was
4/24/2008, 3:59 PM
fire units by radio. The Howard County VFD has 10 stations. Out of
the 18 pieces of apparatus that Howard County owns Sullivan
summoned 12, including four engines, a Telesquirt with a 50-foot (15.2
meter) ladder and a quick attack mini pumper.
Closest to the refinery is the fire station at Sand Springs, 3.2 miles
(5.1 k) away.
“I got the pumper truck there with a FEMA grant,” Sullivan said. “I
designed it just for the refinery. It’s 40 feet long, has a 2,000 gpm (7,500
liters per minute) pump rated at 1,500 (5,700 lpm) for draft, it has LDH
(large diameter hose) foam discharge, 3,000 gallons (11,000 liters) of
water and 110 gallons (416 liters) of ThunderStorm® 1x3 foam.”
The second truck at the Sand Springs station is equipped with a
In the future, Presidents’ Day may be treated with much more
reverence in Big Springs. Thanks to the federal holiday, the refinery was compressed air foam system. Both trucks were out of the station within
three minutes of the blast.
“We have a pager system
“Having worked at the refinery and experienced some smaller explosions, I
for our volunteers,” Sullivan
knew immediately what it was,” said Howard County (TX) Fire Chief Tommy
said. “Also, in the last
Sullivan. “Nothing else could hit with that kind of overpressure.
couple of years I’ve given
my firefighters radios. When
operating with a skeleton crew the morning of the explosion, greatly
we are on the scene we have 100 percent fire ground communications. If
reducing potential injuries and death.
Almost three minutes before the blast, the refinery summoned off- you’re just on pagers, they can hear you but they can’t talk to you.”
duty Red Hats in response to a Level 1 release from the polypropylene
The department completed a switch from analog to digital
unit, Sullivan said. That escalated to a Level 3 emergency, meaning communications only three months ago, he said.
immediate evacuation of the refinery.
Interstate 20 runs past the front of the refinery. Within half a mile (.8
“It was just a few seconds later that the shift foreman yelled on the k) of the scene, Sullivan discovered that debris hurled by the explosion
radio for everyone to run and take cover,” Sullivan said. “Then the had shut down traffic. The Midland Reporter-Telegram reported that a
vapor cloud lit off.”
woman driving past the refinery was injured when glass on her vehicle
That happened at 8:12 a.m. Sullivan, drinking coffee at his kitchen shattered from the blast.
table almost two miles away, thought that a truck had driven through
“There were grates measuring four feet by eight feet (1.2 m by 2.4
his house.
m) long lying in the middle of the road, steel beams, plywood with nails
“Having worked at the refinery and experienced some smaller in it, all kinds of stuff,” Sullivan said. “I moved onto the north service
explosions, I knew immediately what it was,” he said. “Nothing else road and got close to the refinery fence. The bigger debris had gone past
could hit with that kind of overpressure.”
the fence so it left me enough room to get by.”
The blast cut communications with the refinery, leaving them unable
No walking wounded were waiting when responders arrived. The
to even dial 911, Sullivan said. En route to the site, he began dispatching four refinery workers injured in the blast had already been taken to area
hospitals. From the main gate, Sullivan
said he could see the windows had
been blown out of the administration
and training buildings. In some cases,
parts of walls were missing.
Also damaged was the refinery
firehouse. Responders on duty at the
time of the blast were unable to
immediately reach their pumper and
50-foot (15 meter) Telesquirt.
“They had to rip the doors off the
station just to get the fire trucks out,”
Sullivan said. “They were just able
to get the Telesquirt out when I got
there. They were working to get the
pumper out.”
The guard at the front gate, hired
by Sullivan when he served as the
refinery’s supervisor of security, was
still at her post when he arrived. She
advised him that a fire truck was
needed at the refinery’s cat cracker
as soon as possible.
“The cat cracker is south of the
Photo Courtesy of Texas Forest Service
polypropylene unit, probably about
Local fire departments attack one of three stubborn tank fires ignited by the explosion.
bad,” Sullivan said. “I’d never seen a mushroom cloud rise above the
refinery before.”
On-site emergency operations were divided between two groups –
the refinery brigade who took on the process leaks, and regional
responders from Howard County, Big Springs and Snyder who fought
the tank fires. Sullivan took charge of the regional response.
“I said, ‘I will not get you hurt,’” Sullivan said. “I discussed it with
all the firefighters, not just the officers. I told them what we were going
to do and what to expect.”
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
an eighth of a mile (1.3 k),” Sullivan said. “The
blast at the polypropylene unit had touched off
the cat cracker. It was burning about 170 feet (52
meters) above the ground.”
The blast also damaged the refinery’s
alkalization unit, wastewater holding tank and
asphalt plant, all of which were located between
the polypropylene unit and cat cracker, he said.
Pre-planning called for responders to stage in the
parking lot of the refinery. After a radio conference
between Sullivan and the Big Springs fire chief, it
was decided to stage the Big Springs responders
across the interstate.
Meanwhile, Sullivan ordered his Sand Springs
pumper with a five-person crew to report to the
main gate.
“My guys fight hydrocarbons all the time,”
Sullivan said. “Our response area includes the oil
field outside the city of Big Springs. It was decided
that I should take my people in first and get control
of the cat. That was the most important thing at
that point. With the experience my guys had, it
was decided that we could do a better job.”
A nasty surprise awaited the Howard County
and Red Hat responders. After laying five-inch
LDH to the nearest hydrant, it was discovered
that the damage to the firehouse had left only one
diesel fire pump working. Worse, the blast had
sheared off many of the refinery’s hydrants,
allowing water to flow freely.
“I used the 3,000 gallons (11,300 liters) of tank
water that I brought with me,” Sullivan said. “We
only had 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) of pressure
from the available hydrant. The deck gun had a
smooth bore tip and foam built into it. We started
at 1,000 gallons (3,800 liters) a minute of foam at
110 pounds (49.8 kilograms) of pressure. We were
100 feet (30 meters) away and still managed to hit
the cat at 170 feet (52 meters) above ground.”
The foam brought the fire under control and
Photo Courtesy of Texas Forest Service
the residual coming off the tower extinguished the
F&HC monitor.
ground spill, he said. However, it was only a
(6 meters) tall and 60 feet (18 meters) long.
matter of time before the tank water was exhausted.
The blast had sheared off the piping beneath the tanks, resulting in a
“We pulled some handlines and set up some 2½–inch (63 mm)
monitors,” Sullivan said. “After we had the top knocked, we eased back direct gravity-fed fire. With the Big Spring engine handling structural
and used the different portable ground monitors with foam while we cooling with its monitors, Sullivan used his pumper to feed foam to a
2½-inch (63 mm) handline and a 1¾-inch (42 mm) handline, both using
were building up water in the tank and pressure.”
The refinery had an unoccupied northside firehouse with no pump HydroChem nozzles from Williams F&HC.
Using ThunderStorm® foam, the handlines gained control of the
in it. Sullivan dispatched his minipumper to that location to begin
drafting raw water from the Colorado River Municipal Water District. ground spill, reducing the intensity of the fire beneath the bullet tanks
“That minipumper will pump 1,000 gallons (3,800 liters) a minute despite the difficulty of a beam blocking direct access.
Two options existed – extinguish the fire with the HydroChem and
with the LDH intake and discharge,” Sullivan said. “So I used it to start
charging the northside loop system to help get some more pressure. hope it does not re-light, or get close enough using foam to see if any
The hydrants that were sheared off were on the downstream side. If we surviving valves could be used to block the fuel. At about one hour and
could boost the pressure, we could pick it up on our end and not let it 15 minutes into the emergency, Sullivan chose the latter.
“Zach Johnson, one of my firefighters, is actually an employee of
go down the downstream side so much.”
About 30 minutes into the emergency, water pressure was sufficient the refinery,” Sullivan said. “We were using him as a liaison between us,
for a Big Spring engine to position on the southwest corner of the cat our attack operations and the shift foreman. We notified the foreman
cracker. To the east of the cat cracker are the refinery’s gasoline cooling that we had located some valves on the bullet tanks where the fuel was
towers. Underneath them are two bullet tanks, each measuring 20 feet dropping.”
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
The foreman advised the firefighters it was safe to use the valves.
The fire went out and firefighters secured the area.
Three tank fires were next on the priority list. Tanks 115 and 116
were 100-foot (30 meter) storage tanks containing gasoline. Nearby
was Tank 157, an 80-foot (24 meter) tank containing asphalt.
“I knew I was going to need a Big Gun monitor, a jet ratio controller
(JRC) and at least 4,000 gallons (1,500 liters) of foam concentrate
staged in that area before we could do anything,” Sullivan said.
Before that could happen, the regional responders got an unexpected
opportunity to rehab.
“By the alkalization unit we could see a mist or fog,” Sullivan said.
“Having worked at the refinery, I knew it had to be acid vapors. We
evacuated and notified the refinery that we could see a vapor release.”
More than one and half hours later, the leaking situation stabilized.
Owing to the amount of damage on-site, the refinery had set up an
incident command center nearly one mile southeast, Sullivan said. The
refinery notified Sullivan that he was in charge of operations on the
storage tank extinguishment. To help him, he had an additional Big
Spring engine and crew assigned to him.
After returning to the burning tanks, the first step by Sullivan was to
remove downed power lines and poles to grant easier access to the area.
“We got the electrical representative to make sure everything was
clear, then pulled out the K12 saw and sliced through the lines,” Sullivan
said. “I could see that all the primary lines were down. When these guys
tell me that the line is dead and we can cut it, I believe them.”
By now, reinforcements from Midland, 40 miles away, were on
scene. A Midland engine, together with refinery firefighters, was
deployed to the alkalization unit on the northwest side of the refinery.
A Quint from Midland assisted Big Spring responders at the cat cracker
in dealing with small fires from unpressurized fuel.
With the rest of the refinery secure, Sullivan concentrated on Tank
115. Working with plant personnel, he managed to block in all the
sheared hydrants save for one. The Colorado River Municipal Water
District increased water pressure to the refinery by an additional 20
pounds (1.38 BAR). Water pressure throughout the refinery improved
“To me, 115, 116 and the asphalt tank were like dumpster fires,”
Sullivan said. “They’ll be there when you get to them. If you have a
failure, you have your dike. They are by themselves in an area where
they won’t set anything else off.”
Having trained at the annual Williams F&HC foam workshop, Sullivan
employed the classic ‘Footprint’ methodology. His relationship with
Williams F&HC traces back to a March 1993 crude oil tank fire that he
responded to in the oilfields south of Howard County. Unfortunately,
that tank dramatically boiled over, forcing responders to flee.
“That’s when I changed,” Sullivan said. “I used to handle a tank fire
by just hanging a stinger on the edge. I changed all operations on crude
oil tanks and everything else.”
His work with the refinery Red Hats gave him the opportunity to
attend the annual Williams F&HC foam workshop in 1995.
“That gave me knowledge about the Big Guns,” Sullivan said. “It
taught me about using distance and big water to my advantage. It also
taught me about the right kind of application rates.”
A Williams F&HC 2x6 Gun monitor belonging to the refinery was
moved into position. Drawing from the refinery’s stockpile of
ThunderStorm®, Sullivan assembled 1,500 gallons (5,700 liters) of
concentrate on trailers and moved six totes of concentrate by forklift.
“I met with the mutual aid we had from Big Spring and Synder and
explained how we were going to do this,” Sullivan said. “They didn’t
have any idea how to use it, let alone hook it up. But they also said we
will follow you and do what you tell us.”
During application only minimum personnel were allowed at the 2x6
Gun – an officer, one firefighter working the monitor up and down, and
another firefighter working it left to right. Sullivan himself took up a
position at the JRC beside the foam trailers. Sullivan’s pumper from
Sand Springs provided the pressure.
“We were at the 6 o’clock position dropping the foam right in the
middle, getting that footprint on the fire,” he said. “Before, using stingers
mounted on the side of the tank, the reaction was nowhere as positive.”
Tank 115, standing upwind, came first. Much of the tank shell above
the product line collapsed from the heat. After it was extinguished with
product saved, firefighters turned to Tank 116, making application from
the west side of the tank.
“We had flame collapse in about 12 minutes,” Sullivan said. “We
then spent 24 minutes cooling. There was a lot of hot metal in there and
we didn’t want it to re-light.”
Tank 157 required different tactics. Positioning to the south of the
tank, Sullivan flowed water onto the ground to judge the flow pattern.
“The water was coming back toward us so I had backhoes brought in
to build diversion dikes,” Sullivan said. “Asphalt will froth 99 percent
of the time, so you have to be careful. I didn’t want to have a fire flow
of burning asphalt coming toward my equipment and people.”
Once the diversion dikes were ready, Sullivan had volunteers waiting
for a chance at monitor duty.
“I had some Big Spring firefighters on the 2x6 Gun,” Sullivan said.
“What better time for them to get experience.”
First, firefighters put a full minute of foam flow into the dike for
vapor suppression. Next was the “tease.” Foam was applied to the
burning asphalt for about three seconds, inviting a violent reaction.
“This gives me steam conversion, but I still have active flames,”
Sullivan said. “So I give it about 20 to 30 seconds before putting another
10 to 15 seconds of teasing. It all turns to steam. I pulled the 2x6 Gun
off of the asphalt again, letting it put foam on the dike. The tank never
frothed over or boiled over.”
Handlines cooled the bottom three-quarters of the tank shell. With
the contents stabilized, the object was to bring down the temperature of
the metal. In less than seven minutes from the start of application with
the 2x6 Gun, the asphalt tank extinguished.
“Just to the north we had the asphalt line and some hydrocarbon
still burning,” Sullivan said. “We just turned the 2x6 Gun around and ran
it up through there for about three minutes, shoving 2,000 gpm(750
lpm) of foam up through that alleyway. That put all of it out.”
Final extinguishment at the refinery was achieved in 10 hours, Sullivan
said. Some plant officials had predicted it would take at least two days.
Since the refinery is in the Howard County VFD’s jurisdiction,
Sullivan agreed to keep a pumper and five-person crew on hand
throughout the night.
“There were some small places burning inside the refinery that we
didn’t want to go into because of the danger to the responders,” Sullivan
said. “We let those small fires burn out.”
During the course of the emergency, the only evacuation outside the
refinery was at a carbon plant to the northwest. An evacuation of a twomile radius of the refinery was considered. Residential neighborhoods
are only about 500 feet (150 meters) from the refinery’s west fence.
As chief, Sullivan said he usually gets to make decisions rather than
actually fight fires. At the Big Springs refinery fire, things were different.
“With this one, I actually had to take charge of operations directly,”
he said. “When you get close to tanks this big, it is really intimidating.”
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
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4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
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n the wake of several highly publicized explosions and fires in the
refining and fuel storage industries where vapor leaks were
followed by ignition, management is asking how can safety
measures be improved to prevent mobile equipment operating
under hot work permits or within the fringes of the classified
areas from creating another disaster?
Heavily regulated by governments throughout the world, refineries
and similar energy industries have a responsibility to ensure that any
explosion risk is kept to a minimum. Within the US, refineries have
been required to comply with codes and regulations for the use of
powered industrial equipment in explosion hazardous areas. However,
due to code interpretation and explosion hazardous areas rating variances,
adequate levels of regulations and worker protection have not been
established. This means that workers at many refineries today still
remain at risk.
To start a fire and/or explosion requires three constituents to come
together; an oxidizer, a hazard (gas/vapor) and an ignition source. While
it is not possible to eliminate the oxidizer (air), it is possible to plan
processes and protect equipment to limit, wherever possible, the chances
of the hazard getting in contact with an ignition source. However, it is a
matter of fact that when it comes to the control of mobile equipment,
many responsible for site operations lack the experience, site discipline
or budget to enforce safe and acceptable practices in terms of the control
of mobile equipment movement.
Before examining how to better manage the movement of mobile
equipment under work permits or in “low” risk areas, we should agree
in areas formally classified as an explosive hazard, the equipment used
should be designed and certified to operate safely in those areas. Again
referring to codes and regulations, if an area is classified as Class 1,
Division 1 or Zone 1 certified, then only equipment certified to EX
Class 1, Division 1 or Zone 1 codes and regulations should be used in
those areas. For Division 2 or Zone 2 hazardous areas equipment should
at least be tested and certified according to the codes and regulations
applicable to equipment used in those areas.
Insisting that only Division 1, Zone 1, Division 2 or Zone 2 certified
equipment can be allowed to operate in the refinery is often neither
practicable nor desirable. Imagine insisting that a 100-ton mobile crane
required for a maintenance job must be converted to fully explosion
proof before being permitted to operate on site. I doubt any rental
company can afford to keep an explosion proof crane on standby for
the occasional job in an explosion hazardous area. The same thing applies
to personnel carriers, vans, tractors, tankers, mobile compressors and
generator sets operating inside the refinery perimeter not being permitted
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
into formally classified areas without first being made fully explosion
proof. In these situations most refineries rely on the use of hot work
permits and a risk management processes. In most cases the person(s)
responsible for issuing the work permit have the relevant experience
and the authority to manage the risk involved with the task at hand.
How can you limit the chances of the hazard and the
ignition source from coming together?
When diesel powered equipment is used, it is common to insist that
an engine over-speed air shutdown valve and an exhaust spark arrestor
are installed. Provided these components are correctly fitted and
correctly serviced, they should alleviate some of the many ignition
sources to be found on a forklift truck, crane, tanker, compressor or
But what about the other ignition sources such as electro-static
releases, flame flashback through the inlet system or flame emission
(not sparks) from the engine exhaust and sparks from any electrical
equipment such as alternators, lighting, instrumentation or engine
management systems? What about the potential of hot surfaces causing
auto-ignition? Who will ensure that the over-speed valve has been
correctly calibrated before the operation begins? And if so, how will the
operator of the crane, truck or van know whether the area immediately
surrounding his equipment has reached an explosive gas or vapor level?
Besides working under a hot work permit, it is common practice for the
operator to carry a handheld gas detector. But who or what procedure
ensures that the gas detector has been specifically calibrated against the
gases and vapors that could potentially be released into the operating
area? Does the gas detector always remain with the equipment and its
operator throughout the permit process or does the operator stray
away from the equipment? A handheld gas
detector relies on an operator to ‘kill’ the
equipment before the equipment ignites the
explosive atmosphere that has developed
unexpectedly. Unfortunately it is an undeniable
fact that most accidents are caused by human
failure or response time.
One could rely on gas detection systems
monitoring the site, but it would be necessary
to ensure that sufficient gas detector points
cover all areas where mobile equipment is
operating, because if not, the hazard and ignition
source may combine before appropriate action
can be taken.
A better approach may be to have the
equipment and its ignition sources ring fenced
by dedicated gas detectors that will
automatically shutdown the gen-set or
compressor when flammable gases or vapors
are detected, however if the equipment is
mobile, such as cranes or vans, the process
becomes rather impracticable. Besides that,
how do you prevent equipment that has
automatically shutdown from being restarted
before it is safe to do so?
Relying on engine over-speed valves, fixed
gas detectors and handheld gas detectors may
have been the traditional reactive protection
methods of yesterday. However, with today’s
powered industrial equipment relying on
sophisticated electronics, the use of over-speed
valves and the limitations of relying on handheld
gas detectors being held by infallible workers does not appear the way
to improve facility safety going forward.
Today’s pro-active gas detection technologies limit the risks to
workers and at the same time allow the operator the flexibility they
need to perform their job safely and efficiently by:
• Ensuring that the equipment which is operated has its own integral
gas detection system that will only allow the equipment to function
when the immediate area surrounding the equipment is free of flammable
gas or vapor.
• Ensuring that before the operation begins the equipment performs
a forced automatic gas test to ensure it is calibrated correctly.
• Ensuring that equipment which is operated has its own integral gas
detection system which shuts down the equipment automatically and
immediately when an unexpected increase in flammable gas or vapors is
detected in the immediate area surrounding the equipment.
• Ensuring that if shutdown does occur that any restart is controlled
by a person in charge of facility safety.
• Installing protection systems that are simple to fit, simple to use,
simple to maintain and, most importantly, designed to isolate most of
the ignition sources from explosive atmospheres.
Even though the technology is available for those who need it, it is
the safety culture and corporate mindset that needs adjustment.
Appointing the appropriate budgets and implementing new safety
programs are fundamental to accomplishing real change. With the right
mindset, some investments, minor equipment modifications and fine
tuning of the site process & permit schemes, significant progress in
equipment safety can be made in relatively short time. This will not
only reduce the risks of fire and explosions, but also protect people,
their investments and our environment
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
One Seven
Continued from page 14
The One Seven® Class A Foam Concentrate
was developed to have the best moisture
penetration ability even at a low mixing ratio of
just 0.3 percent. The Draves Test proves this highly
effective moisture penetration. A one inch by one
inch piece of canvas fabric is dropped into a foam
solution with One Seven® Class A foam
concentrate and is fully saturated in 28 seconds.
Competing foam solutions take more than two
full minutes to fully saturate the fabric with the
same testing parameters.
Class B One Seven® (AFFF) foam agent has
an additive rate of 0.5 percent. Class B alcohol
resistant foam agent has an additive rate of 0.6
One Seven® has demonstrated that it effectively
Photo courtesy of Gimaex
operates more quickly, with substantially less
water consumption and practically without the A One Seven unit in place aboard a fire truck serving a tire plant in Germany.
usual water damage. It is ready for use quickly
and requires no technical efforts by the operator. The design of the plastics and chemicals are important for tire production at the Pirelli
plant in Germany. Since 2005, the fire brigade at the Pirelli plant has
system guarantees a constant foam quality with simple operation.
At Blaichach, the One Seven® foam system was mounted on a four- used the One Seven system. The Pirelli fire truck integrates a 3,000 liter
wheel chassis with a compact wheelbase of only 3,620 mm (11.8 feet). (750 gallons) water tank and a 200 liter (50 gallons) Class A foam tank
The vehicle includes a 1,000 liter (250 gallons) water tank and a 200 liter with the One Seven system.
In 2006, the system was used to extinguish major fires in two separate
(52.8 gallon) foam tank. That foam tank is divided into 150 liters (38
gallons) of Class A and 50 liters (12.5 gallons)of Class B.
supermarkets nearby, convincing the local municipal brigade to also
Blaichach is not alone in choosing the One Seven® system. Rubber, purchase the system.
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
Underline Items Denote Fatality
March 1 — Gimcheon, South Korea: Fire destroyed
a phenol rosin factory, releasing phenol into the
Nakdong River.
March 1 – Sakai, Japan: Hydrogen fluoride gas
leaking from a chemical plant affected more than 20.
March 2 — Canton, OH: 4 responders were exposed
to dehydrated lime at a steel plant fire.
March 2 – Centralia, WA: 3 workers escaped an
explosion and fire at a wood products plant.
March 2 — Scranton, PA: A fire at a munitions plant
started inside vents on the roof.
March 3 – Malfetta, Italy: 4 workers died from
breathing toxic sulfur fumes from a tank truck.
March 3 – Scranton, PA: Fire damaged a munitions
March 3 – Shanghai, China: 2 steel plant workers
suffocated upon entering a furnace filled with nitrogen.
March 3 — St. Pie, Quebec: A plant specializing in
wood gliders for furnishings caught fire.
March 3 — Suzhou, China: Fire destroyed 3
production lines at an electronics plant.
March 3 – Wansea, U.K.: An explosion injured 2
workers at an appliance factory.
March 4 — Corpus Christi, TX: Oil leaking from a
broken seal ignited at an petroleum refinery.
March 4 – Nackawic, New Brunswick: A sulfur
dioxide leak at a pulp mill injured 2.
March 4 — Ochang, South Korea: A fire at a
computer battery plant impacted worldwide supplies.
March 4 — Taoyuan, Taiwan: Fire broke out on a
production line for notebook computers.
March 5 — Burlington City, N.J.: A 3,000-pound
pipe rolled off a forklift, crushing a pipe foundry worker.
March 5 — Prescott, WI: A railcar stopped on a
bridge ruptured, spilling 20,000 gallons of antifreeze.
March 6 — Cambridge, Ontario: Workers evacuated
a plastic coating plant when fire broke out.
March 6 — Ledyard, CT: A fire in a fire fighting
water pump house injured a chemical plant worker.
March 6 – McLaren Vale, Australia: 132,000 gallons
of wine were lost when a fermenting tower collapsed.
March 6 – Pasig City, Philippines: A steam tank at
a coconut oil refinery exploded.
March 6 — Struthers, OH: Fire broke out at an
aluminum products plant.
March 6 – Tokai, Japan: An explosion at a steel
works injured 3 workers.
March 7 — Kalinga Nagon, Philippines: A fire in
the ferroalloys unit of a steel plant killed a worker.
March 7 — Salisbury, N.C.: Fire ignited at a plant
specializing in rubberized products such as hose.
March 7 – Salton Sea, CA: Residents were
evacuated after a derailed freight train spilled acid.
March 8 – Cilacap, Indonesia: 3 oil refinery workers
doing maintenance on a fin-fan cooler died in a fire.
March 8 – Edmonton, Alberta: A worker at a
hydrogen sulfide plant was found dead.
March 8 – West Gippsland, Australia: Powdered
milk stored in a four-story hopper caught fire.
March 9 – Pimpri, India: An explosion in a chemical
plant laboratory seriously injured an employee.
March 10 – Oak Park Heights, MN: An explosion
and fire rocked a power plant coal crusher.
March 10 – Uruma, China: 4 people storing chemicals
in a porcelain factory warehouse died in an explosion.
March 10 – Windsor, Ontario: 5 auto plant workers
were injured in a fire.
March 11 – Attercliffe, U.K.: Hydrogen sulfide gas
For Complete Incident Logs, Visit
escaped from a waste management facility.
March 11 – Bath, N.Y.: An explosion at a liquid
propane storage facility injured 4 workers.
March 11 – Milazzo, Italy: Fire broke out in the
diesel section of an oil refinery.
March 11 – St. Lambrecht, Austria: 2 workers were
killed in an explosives plant accident.
March 11 – Worcester, MA: Leaking ammonia forced
workers at a grinding gears plant to evacuate.
March 12 – Baton Rouge, LA: An oil refinery worker
was killed.
March 12 – Euless, TX: A fire ignited at a chemical
March 12 – Middle Swan, Australia: A machine fire
caused major damage at a brick making plant.
March 12 – Tangra, India: A fire injured 3 chemical
plant workers.
March 13 – Victoria, British Columbia: A fire gutted
a fish processing plant.
March 14 – Sarnia, Ontario: Residents sheltered in
place after a benzene release at an oil refinery.
March 14 – Smithers, British Columbia: An
explosion and fire at a particle board plant injured 2.
March 14 – Sterling, KS: Fire damaged a chemical
March 15 – New Hampton, IA: A fire at a feed plant
did not reach fertilizer and other hazardous materials.
March 16 – Fond du Lac, WI: Firefighters
extinguished a furnace fire at an outboard motor plant.
March 16 — Karachi, Pakistan: An 8-hour fire broke
out in a refrigerator factory.
March 17 – Byculla, India: 10 people were killed
and 66 injured when fire broke out at an aerosol
repackaging plant, part of a larger industrial estate.
March 17 – Chicago, IL: Fire swept through a factory
manufacturing zinc products for industry.
March 17 – Knoxville, TN: Fire destroyed a sports
manufacturing plant.
March 17 – Koln, Germany: A ruptured ethylene
pipeline ignited at a chemical plant.
March 17 – Nizhny, Russia: An ammonia leak killed
a refinery worker.
March 17 – Pockwood, British Virgin Islands: A
fire at a used oil dumpsite spread to a power plant.
March 17 – Stolzenau, Germany: An explosion
rocked a coating company.
March 18 – Braithwaite, LA: Fluorosilicic acid leaked
from a chemical plant storage tank.
March 18 – Chiba, China: Fire broke out at a chemical
March 18 – Dormagen, Germany: A leak in an
ethylene pipeline at a plastics plant ignited a fire.
March 18 – Fredonia, WI: Nitric acid leaked from a
chemical plant storage tank.
March 18 – Spooner, WI: 2 workers were injured in
a chemical plant explosion.
March 19 – Barrancabermeja, Colombia: 4 refinery
workers suffered burns in an explosion.
March 19 – Bloomer, WI: A fire in a dust collection
system damaged a plant specializing in insulation.
March 20 – Andirin District, Turkey: 4 hydroelectric
power plant employees were killed in an explosion.
March 20 – Carefree, IN: Hydrochloric acid vapor
escaped after an explosion at an engine plant.
March 20 – St. Charles, IL: Sprinklers checked a
fire at a high rack storage unit at a chemical plant.
March 20 — Warren, PA: Fire broke out in the vacuum
pump of an oil refinery combination unit.
March 21 — Sherwood Park, Alberta: Fire destroyed
a mushroom growing plant.
March 22 – Sturtevant, WI: Large bags of polymer
pellets ignited in a chemical plant warehouse.
March 22 – Tilsonburg, Ontario: 2 fires happened
within several days at an auto parts plant.
March 22 – Valenzuela City, Philippines: A massive
fire gutted a plastics plant.
March 23 – Booneville, AR: Nearby residents
evacuated due to ammonia after a packing plant blast.
March 23 – Kiryat Gat, Israel: Explosions resulted
as fire swept through a pesticide warehouse.
March 23 – Levis, Quebec: More than 46,000 gallons
of gasoline spilled at a refinery.
March 23 – Torkham, Pakistan: An explosion killed
2 people and destroyed 33 oil tanker trucks.
March 24 – Anaheim, CA: 12 firefighters were injured
by toxic chemicals released at a dyeing plant fire.
March 24 – Hawthorne, N.J.: Fire gutted the offices
of a metal finishing factory.
March 24 – Mineral Wells, TX: A portion of an
electronic plant caught fire.
March 24 – Port St. Lucie, FL: A chemical plant
worker fell into a vat of bleach.
March 25 – Aiken, S.C.: Rubble and wood from a
remodeling project ignited at a finishing plant.
March 25 – Texas City, TX: Oil refinery workers
sheltered in place during a propane leak.
March 26 – Bogata, Colombia: A fire destroyed a
paint factory.
March 26 – Cangrejera, Mexico: An explosion ignited
a fire in a benzene storage tank.
March 26 – Portsmouth, U.K.: A trash fire threatened
a factory that makes smoke detectors.
March 26 – Rockville, MD: Front-end loaders pulled
apart burning paper bales at a paper mill.
March 27 – Albany, KY: A massive fire spread through
a charcoal plant warehouse.
March 27 – Brookshire, TX: A flash fire burned 2
electronics plant workers.
March 27 – Santa Maria, CA: Hydrogen sulfide gas
leaked from a refinery pipeline.
March 28 – Ahmedabad, India: A tanker truck fire
spread to another vehicle and a nearby chemical plant.
March 28 – Blanchester, OH: Fire scorched the
exterior of an auto parts plant.
March 28 – Fort Erie, N.Y.: A furnace explosion at a
metals plant seriously burned a worker.
March 28 – Mount Vernon, N.Y.: Flames raced
through a chemical plant warehouse.
March 28 – Tea, S.D.: Fire engulfed a pallet plant.
March 29 – Baku, Azerbaijan: A 5-story building at
a radio manufacturing plant was swept by fire.
March 29 – Curtis Bay, MD: A mixing structure at a
concrete plant caught fire and collapsed.
March 29 – Gereshk, Afghanistan: 2 workers died
in an explosion at a power plant.
March 29 – Jackson Township, PA: Fire destroyed
a packaging plant.
March 30 – Lafayette, TN: Fire broke out at a plant
specializing in foam backing for carpet.
March 30 – Milwaukee, WI: Fire broke out at a plant
specializing in corrugated and solid fiber containers.
March 31 – Kanahpur, Bangladesh: 3 steel plant
workers were killed in a boiler explosion.
March 31 – Mumbai, India: A chemical plant reactor
exploded, killing 2 workers.
Visit for April listings
MAY/JUNE 2008 27
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
Foam – an additive and a system
rom time immemorial mankind has used water to control fire.
From the first time that some nameless aboriginal ancestor
discovered that water would extinguish fire until the present day
the basic principle of firefighting has been to “put the wet stuff on the
red stuff”. This approach served well when virtually all combustibles
were solids. There was the occasional bit of oil used as lamp fuel,
various lubricants and of course the odd container of “spirituous liquors”
that would burn but other than that there were very few flammable
liquids in the every day environment and those that were around were
present in rather small quantities. In the nineteenth century America,
and the world, was geared to solid fuel. The industrial revolution had
arrived but it was powered by the steam engine and that engine was
nearly always fueled by coal or wood.
All this changed in August of 1859 when Col. Edwin Drake brought
in the first oil well at Titusville, Pennsylvania. Originally petroleum
was used to produce “lamp oil” or kerosene to replace the scarce and
more expensive whale oil then in use; gasoline was essentially a waste
product since, because of its high volatility, it was prone to explosion
and therefore deemed to unsafe for use in the wick type lamps of the
day. Then, in 1898, the Duryea brothers hitched an Otto gasoline engine
to a buggy to produce the first automobile in America and when Henry
Ford introduced the Model T in 1903, liquid fuels were off to the races.
The coming of the automobile and with it the introduction of large
quantities of liquid fuels and lubricants into virtually every community
opened up a whole new world for firefighters. For the first time they
were being called on to deal with fires that could not be put out with
ordinary water streams and, at first, there was nothing with which to
meet this challenge. Liquid hydrocarbon fuels and most other organic
liquids (carbon disulphide CS2 being the most common exception) are
generally lighter than water; thus when water is applied to these materials
they simply float to the top of the container and continue burning. If
more water is applied the container may overflow and spread the fire.
In addition, if the temperature of the burning liquid has exceeded the
boiling point of the applied water it may flash into steam causing a
“slop over” which again spreads the fire.
The popular legend has it that the idea for firefighting foams came to
an off-duty firefighter who noticed that the suds produced in the soapy
water of his wife’s laundry tub floated on the surface of the water
sealing it from the atmosphere. He reasoned that if he could apply soap
suds to a hydrocarbon fire the water in the suds would remain on top of
the liquid and smother the fire; thus fire foam was born.
Regardless of their composition all foams are basically a system
composed of three components: Water, a wetting agent or detergent and
a gas (usually air). To obtain foam the three components must be mixed
prior to application. This mixing can be done in two ways: 1.) the
foaming agent or “concentrate’ can be mixed with water in a tank either
when the tank is filled or when the apparatus arrives at the scene and it
is determined that the nature of the fire is such that foam will be needed.
This works well in the case of small, self contained first response units
but it has the drawback that the tank has to be refilled periodically
unless a backup engine can arrive before the onboard supply of premixed
foam solution is exhausted. 2.) The concentrate is carried in a tank or
container and added to the fire fighting water by means of an eductor or
proportioning pump. This system has the advantage of being able to
supply foam in a continuous stream, so long as the supplies of water
and foam concentrate hold out. In either case the foam solution (foam
concentrate and water) is aerated by passing it through some sort of air
aspirating nozzle or by the application of compressed air as in a (“CAF”
unit). The finished foam is then applied to the fire.
Some of the original fire/foam was generated in 2½ gallons fire
extinguishers. This was referred to as Chemical Foam. It was generated
when two chemicals mixed together. The fire extinguishers had an inner
chamber and an outer chamber. The chemicals were referred to as A & B.
As long as the extinguisher was upright, things were normal. When the
extinguisher was uprighted and turned upside down, the two chemicals
would mix. The chemical reaction would do two things. One, it would
create a chemical reaction that would create pressure which forced the
foaming agents out the hose of the extinguisher. It also caused bubbles
which were filled with Co2 gas.
These extinguishers were very similar to the Soda Acid extinguishers
of their day. The major difference was the foam extinguishers created
bubbles so that the foam bubbles could foam over the surface of the
flammable spill. They worked very well and because of the Co2 in the
bubble, it helped to extinguish the fire.
One major problem with both the Foam and the Soda Acid
extinguisher was that the chemicals were very corrosive. Also the
extinguisher containers were not pressurized and there was no standard
requiring that they be hydro tested. Too many times when the
extinguisher was pressurized by turning it upside down, the container
shell would rupture from the pressure and kill or injure people. They
also could not be used on electrical fires as the chemicals were good
conductors of electricity. These types of extinguishers were banned
about the late 1960’s.
If any of these extinguishers seem to still be full of liquid, do not
invert an old Soda Acid or Foam extinguisher. There is no way to know
if the chemicals are still inside the extinguishers and the container could
fail with terrible results.
Since their original introduction, numerous “improved” foaming
agents have been introduced. Some were developed for the sake of
economy, others to deal with specialized situations; polar liquids such
as alcohols are a classic example. Protein foams, originally based on
hydrolyzed waste animal tissue from slaughter house operations in
various glycols, were introduced because of their longevity, their
cheapness and the fact that they would not harm plant life. They had
one major drawback however; proteins are neutralized or “denatured”
by non-polar solvents such as alcohol. The protein foams also had a
short shelve life. If they were stored in a hot environment, their shelf
life could be measured in months. As the “Age of Chemistry” developed,
more and more non-polar chemicals were introduced into transit and the
market place for use as solvents and chemical feed stocks.
The first move away from the protein based foams was when the US
Navy in cooperation with 3M Company developed AFFF (Aqueous
Film Forming Foam) This foam contains some Fluro Florinated chemicals
which cause the AFFF to form a very thin film on the surface of the fuel.
The film was strong enough to prevent the fuel vapors from rising
through the film. It worked very rapidly and that was one of its major
reasons to exist. The Navy wanted foam that worked faster than the
protein foams in use at the time.
AFFF originally was used in conjunction with Dry Chemical, often
referred to as a Twin Agent system. The AFFF world and the US Navy
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
were the original users of this new type of foam and fire fighting system.
The next major users were the airport fire departments.
The AFFF foams were not recommended by the NFPA 11 Standard
for tank fire protection. Some resistance was political more that technical.
In the late 1970s a 160 foot (50 meter) gasoline tank was extinguished.
Due to this extinguishment and the results of many fire tests performed
by 3M, the NFPA 11 Committee dropped the restriction on AFFF.
In the 1980s the 3M Company purchased the rights from National
Foam to manufacture a new type of foam called ATC. (Alcohol Type
Concentrate). In just a few years the new type of foam became the foam
of choice in the US and successfully extinguished most of the tank fires
in the US and around the world. Today that foam is almost exclusively
used in refineries and chemical plants around the world.
Today the use of traditional foams is being challenged by a new fuel,
Ethanol. Ethanol is in the process of being used in the majority of
gasoline sold. The challenge that most fire departments have is that
many of them use AFFF or emulsifier types of foams. None of them
will work on 10 percent or 85 percent ethanol. To extinguish fires
involving this fuel requires the use of AR types of foams or AR/AFFF.
Foam consists of a lattice of tiny bubbles which are bound together
by means of static, or magnetic, attraction and the weaker Van derVaal’s
forces. As long as it is intact, this lattice has tremendous insulating
power working in exactly the same way as does the foam insulation in
a domestic refrigerator. Foam can be used as an insulting blanket. The
normal challenge is that most foams will not adhere very well to vertical
surfaces. As long as the foam is there, it insulates the surface very well
from fire and heat. Along comes a new agent and system, called CAFS
(compressed air foam system). This foam is made by mixing a foam
agent with air and water in the correct amounts. This foam is a very
thick bubble and will adhere to vertical surfaces.
If a fire department sprays the foam onto a
tank shell, it will protect it very well from heat
and flames for hours. It has been used very
successfully in the wild fires out west. So if
we apply a thick blanket of adherent foam to
an iron beam or tank wall that is being subjected
to extreme heat in a fire we may well delay or
even prevent its weakening and/or collapse.
This technique has been used to protect a tank
of flammable liquid, adjacent to a conflagration,
from radiated heat or flame impingement. If
the blanket can be replenished as needed the
temperature of the tank contents can be
maintained at a safe level until the fire can be
extinguished or the contents of the tank
removed from the danger zone. That
compressed foams will adhere to hot metal is a
definite plus and makes it possible to apply
foam blankets to vertical or near vertical
surfaces where their function is to protect from
heat rather than to smother the fire.
The insulating qualities of foams can also
be utilized to retard vaporization of volatile
liquids. A thick foam blanket applied to the
surface of a volatile liquid will protect against
heating and, since the rate of vaporization and
the vapor pressure are both proportional to
the temperature of the liquid, diminish the
concentration of hazardous or explosive vapors
above the liquid.
Firefighters are some of the world’s greatest innovators. Leave
anything lying around a firehouse and, (if it is not nailed down) they
will “acquire” the article and find a new and different use for it. Foams
have been no exception. It wasn’t long after their introduction that
firefighters began to find numerous uses for foams that were over and
above what the original innovators had in mind.
The very property that made foams necessary in the first place can
be utilized to apply them to a tank fire. Water and “oil” (most
hydrocarbons) do not mix and foam is lighter than “oil” and thus will
float on top of it. So, if foam, containing entrained air, is injected near
the bottom of an oil filled tank it will float to the surface. As the foam
rises to the surface of the liquid the hydrostatic pressure becomes less
and the air in the foam expands thus, when it gets to the surface, the
foam has expanded and flows out over the surface of the oil forming a
blanket that seals the oil from the atmosphere, cutting off the oxygen
required to sustain combustion and effecting extinguishment. If a little
pre-piping and preplanning (remember P5) are done, this procedure can
be implemented from a remote location thereby keeping the response
personnel out of harms way. The main difficulty encountered by those
trying to implement this methodology in the past was the need for an
apparatus that could generate and pump foam against the hydraulic
head, i.e. back- pressure, generated by the tank contents.
Additional experiments have been tried using foams in which the
liquid component is something other than water for use on fires involving
water reactive materials such as calcium carbide (CaC2) or metallic alkyls
such as triethyl aluminum ( Al(C2H5)3. While the experimental foams
have worked they are expensive to use and have not yet been proven
practical for general use though some who are involved with rocket
fuels have done work in this area.
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
Reliable stationary fire pumps
ack in the January-February issue I discussed the changes in the
2007 version of NFPA 20 Standard for the Installation of
Stationary Fire Pumps that could affect emergency responders.
That article spelled out the requirements of NFPA 20 in regard to
emergency responders being able to access the fire pump room in an
emergency. This article is intended to get into some of the nuts and bolts
of ensuring that the fire pump will operate during the course of a fire
and be considered a reliable source of water. This article applies to
electric motor driven fire pumps as diesel engine driven fire pumps will
be discussed during the next issue. The intent of this article is to generate
some thoughts around the proper assessment of electric motor driven
fire pumps and their power supplies.
When pre-planning a fire pump room there are three areas that need
attention, first is access, can you gain access to the pump in an emergency
situation? This was covered in the early mentioned article. It should be
noted that electric motor driven fire pump rooms are not required to be
sprinklered per NFPA 20. The second portion is the power supply
itself, does it meet the necessary code requirements to be considered
reliable? The last thing that needs to be considered is the controller/
automatic transfer switch, especially where it’s located and if it’s reliable.
Chapter 9 of NFPA 20 spells out the acceptable power supply
arrangements for electric motor driven stationary fire pumps. Some
local jurisdictions have specific requirements as well, particularly in
regards to high-rise buildings.
Basically, to meet the intent of NFPA 20 and guarantee reliable electric
power to the pump driver, there are a couple ways this can be
accomplished, depending on your particular situation. It would be a
good idea to ask for an electrical one-line diagram of the power supply.
Have the building engineer go over it with you.
One means of supply power is to have a dedicated source directly
from the municipal provider. This would mean that it has to be protected
from fire and other exposures. In some cases it may have to be encased
in concrete with the idea being that it has a 2 hour exposure resistance.
The exact specifications for this reside in NFPA 70, The Electrical
Code. Also, some power supply cabling has been approved for this use
as well.
The important part of this power supply arrangement is the exact
routing of the cabling as it could pass through the building which the fire
pump/sprinkler systems protect. This could be detrimental to the fire
pump if the sprinklers didn’t activate and the building structure collapsed
therefore interrupting power to the pump when it needs it the most.
The problem is compounded if emergency responders are in the building.
Keep in mind that some facilities do manufacture their own power and
if the supply leads meet the standard, this is considered adequate as
Another power supply arrangement would be what is typically
referred to as the campus arrangement where you have electrical feeds
going to multiple buildings. This arrangement, and in the case where
you cannot meet the dedicated power supply requirements, requires
back-up emergency power supplies. Back-up emergency power supplies
are also required when you have a building
whose height is greater than the pumping
capabilities of the fire department apparatus.
One word of caution when dealing with
the back-up power supplies is that you need
to make sure that the generator has the
capability of operating the fire pump under
full load while operating the other emergency
building features. The back-up power source
typically supports the fire alarm system,
the HVAC smoke removal system and
emergency lighting. The generator is required
to have enough fuel to operate more than
eight hours.
Also, be aware of the location of the ATS
(Automatic Transfer Switch). NFPA 20
requires it to be located in the pump room.
However, it’s not always located there. The
location of this switch is important because
if it fails to operate automatically, it can be
operated manually.
All the above mentioned items should be
part of the fire department or emergency
response team’s pre-emergency plan.
Jeffrey R. Roberts, CFPS, is with XL
GAPs. Contact him at jeffrey_roberts or at (504) 220-0057
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
Alyeska cinches
annual firefighter
he Alyeska Fire/Rescue Brigade has won the coveted Alaska
Firefighter Competition Governor’s Trophy for the ninth
consecutive year. The competition was held in conjunction with
the Alaska State Firefighter Association and Alaska Fire Chief
Association’s joint conference in Valdez, Alaska. The theme of the
conference this year was “Industrial and Municipal Departments Training
Together to Protect Alaska’s Future.”
The Alyeska Fire Brigade competition team consists of Alyeska
Pipeline Service Company industrial technicians and Doyon Universal
Services fire protection professionals employed at the Valdez Marine
Terminal. Valdez is the terminus of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System
which carries oil from Prudhoe Bay 800-miles to the marine terminal.
Teams across the state compete in four
events: fire extinguisher, ladder raise, selfcontained breathing apparatus and make
and break. Points earned during the
competition are then tallied up for the
overall award, the Governor’s Trophy.
The Alyeska team members include Brian
Beauvais, Sean Wisner, Matt Smelcer,
Justin Major, Steve McCann, Ken White
and Jennifer Stubblefield.
In the fire extinguisher event, the
participant runs 50 feet (15 meters) in
full turnout gear while test carrying a dry
chemical extinguisher for use to snuff out
a fire in and around a barrel of water that
has a quart of gasoline on top. Once the
fire is extinguished, the participant runs
back 50 feet (15 meters). Smelcer snagged
second place for the team.
Alyeska blasted the ladder raise event for a perfect first place time.
Beauvais, Wisner and Stubblefield raced 75 feet (23 meters) to a pole
while carrying a 24-foot (7 meters) extension ladder, raised the ladder,
tied the halyard and footed the ladder for Major who climbed to the top
to sound the bell attached to the pole.
Wisner secured first place in the self-contained breathing apparatus
(SCBA) event. Wisner ran 75 feet (23 meters), donned his turnout gear
and SCBA and was breathing air within a minute.
White, McCann and Smelcer succeeded in grabbing another first
place in the Make and Break. The make and break involves each
participant coupling three 50-foot (15 meter) sections of hoses together,
adding the nozzle, then racing past the 170 feet (52 meters) mark to
uncouple the nozzle and hoses while racing to the hydrant connection.
The Ayeska Fire/Rescue Brigade triumphed and secured the
Governor’s Trophy, which was presented by the State Fire Marshall’s
Office at the conference banquet. The Alyeska brigade has won the
Governor’s Trophy 13 times since 1993.
The Alyeska Fire Brigade Competition Team snagged the
coveted Alaska Governor’s Trophy at the annual fire
competition in Valdez, Alaska. Competition Team Members,
from left to right, are Bud Jones, Chief Brian Major, Captain
Sean Wisner, Brian Beauvais, Ken White, Captain Jennifer
Stubblefield, Justin Major, Matt Smelcer and Steve McCann.
Below, the firefighters compete in various events.
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
EMS Corner
Death is too often part of living
By BILL KERNEY/College of Southern Nevada
he topic of death and dying is one that is a common theme in the
world of EMS, no matter where you work or which agency you
work for. Adult medicine is full of death and dying patients at
every turn and while it’s our job to fight the Grim Reaper I don’t think
anyone expects to win all of the time. Patients come and patients go.
Some live, but some die. No matter how hard we work or how good a
job we do, the best of efforts do not matter. We all know this. When we
lose a colleague, it’s like losing a member of the family. The “service”
(Fire Extinguishment, EMS, and Public Safety, etc.) has always melded
a tight bond among its members. It’s really just the nature of the beast
I suppose. We depend on each other so intensely, both on and often off
the job. Losing a member on or off the duty can be heartbreaking.
When “Bobby” had all that belly pain, he always said it was the
cook’s chili or some other such concoction he had eaten. Even when he
was doubled over on the kitchen table at 3 AM, we never thought it was
something he “could not handle.” It was not till we heard that he was in
the hospital and that the surgeons had “opened him, and closed him”
that we realized how serious it had been. I vividly remember pulling up
in front of the firehouse several shifts later and seeing the purple bunting
over the door. My heart sank. I knew he was dead. While ‘we’ had never
been close, the mood amongst the brothers that day was somber at best.
No one spoke about it. In fact, no one said very much at all the entire
shift. When “Ralph” was last seen, people said that he looked terrible.
Yet no one had the presence to say anything to “Ralph.” He was after
all a consummate professional, a Paramedic with years of experience
who knew his medicine as good as anyone. He would know if he was
gravely ill or not, right?
The point of both of these cases is that they probably did know
something was seriously wrong. Denial is a very powerful emotion and
one you will see in your friends, family, co-workers, and of course the
patients that you are called to treat. That chest pain must be something
‘other’ than a heart attack….. “It’s the damn pepperoni pizza I had for
lunch, or that pastrami sandwich. I know better than to eat that stuff.”
Patients will often deny there is a problem, but the look on their faces
(remember that “look of impending doom” from EMT Basic?) gives
them away and tells a different story. DO NOT dismiss this observation
nor should you force the patient to confront it head-on. Try a subtle
approach to convince the patient that he should get ‘checked out’ just
Miller joins IFW marketing staff
herrill Miller, a former senior accounts executive for DuPont,
has joined Industrial Fire World as a marketing representative, announced IFW publisher David White.
“We feel that Sherrill will make a significant contribution to
IFW,” White said.
After 22 years with DuPont, Miller retired as a senior accounts executive worldwide for pipeline coatings. Miller has 15
years experience in the fire service, including work for Akron
Brass, Delta Safety (where he worked with Dwight Williams) and
Boss Manufacturing. Miller has also taught at seven colleges,
including Texas A&M, LSU and the University of Mississippi.
to be sure. “Let’s take a ride over and see the Doctor, if it’s nothing, you
will be home in time for dinner, what do you think? It’s better to be safe
than sorry, right?” Plan in advance for resistance from the patient. The
point is to never take “No” for the answer as to whether or not they will
get assistance. Persistence is the key and you may need to “convince”
the patient you are right. Gravely ill patients are often reluctant to face
their own potential mortality and being prepared with this knowledge
can only improve patient outcome. Your actions are critical in assisting
this patient in his time of need.
We have all been taught the “stages” in the Death and Dying lecture.
Denial, anger and rage, bargaining and even acceptance are what to
expect. Patients may present several of these emotional states, all in
one call, and you must be flexible in all your care plans to anticipate
these changes. The families and loved ones are also susceptible to the
same feelings. A patient with a terminal illness may be very cognizant of
his own impending demise and the family will hear nothing of it and
refuse to face it or, in many cases, not even discuss it at all. Having
arrived at the scene and asked the patient, “How are you feeling?” and
getting the response, “Good, I’m dying, but otherwise doing well” gives
you real pause in your EMS career. Many times the family is a bigger
problem than the patient. The previous scenario had the family yelling,
“You are not dying, now stop saying that!” The patient responds, “See,
they just won’t listen to the doctors.” In these types of cases it may be
just as important to the patient that you help care for his family as it is
to meet his medical needs.
I’m not saying that anything could have been different for “Bobby”
or “Ralph.” Who knows how advanced their issues had been but
sometimes you have to wonder if you had said something, could it have
made a difference. When someone looks terrible and we ask how they
are and we get the usual “I’m fine, how are you?” should we not press
the issue and really inquire? Should I not say, “Wow, are you sure you
are ok because you look like crap?” Now of course no one wants to hear
that they “look like crap.” But even risking the possible, “Oh thanks,
you don’t look so marvelous either!” I do not want the friend or loved
one know my real concern! This simple concern might translate into a
trip to the doctor just out of common prudence, especially when the
person making the query has some experience in these observations. As
the loved one, I may only have felt “fatigue” or felt “overly tired,” yet
someone had the presence of mind to express real concern about my
well-being. I just might listen, especially if my physical state was not
really the norm and I was aware of it. This goes for co-workers as well,
and supervisory personnel must also push for action in the presence of
massive denial. Remember, if they look sick, they probably are and you
should never dismiss this gut reaction of yours.
“Ralph” died on March 19th and his memorial service was a week or
so later. I could not go because I was in class that day, but I felt the loss
of a long time colleague. Even if he was aware of his own possible
demise, the loss was huge and he hid it well.
Yes, he was always the consummate professional, right to the end.
He taught us a sobering lesson, let’s not let his death be in vain.
William R. Kerney, MA, EMTP-A, is a professor of emergency
medicine at the College of Southern Nevada.
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
CSB releases study on N.C. hazmat fire
n a case study report released in April on the October 2006 fire at a
hazardous waste transfer facility in Apex, N.C., the U.S. Chemical
Safety Board (CSB) called for a new national fire code for hazardous
waste facilities and for improving the information provided to community
emergency planners about the chemicals those facilities store and handle.
The fire occurred on the night of Oct. 5, 2006, (see “Witch’s Brew”
in the Jan.-Feb. 2007 issue of IFW) at a hazardous waste transfer
facility on Investment Boulevard in Apex, a suburb of Raleigh, North
Carolina. The facility was not staffed or monitored after hours, and no
employees were present at the time of the fire. Emergency responders
did not have access to specific information on the hazardous chemicals
stored at the site and ordered the precautionary evacuation of thousands
of Apex residents. The evacuation order remained in place for two days,
until the fire had subsided.
The CSB investigation found that a small fire originated in the
facility’s oxidizer storage bay, one of six storage bays where different
wastes were consolidated, stored, and prepared for transfer off-site to
treatment and disposal facilities. Within the oxidizer bay were a number
of chemical oxygen generators, which had earlier been removed from
aircraft during routine maintenance at a facility in Mobile, Alabama.
However, they had not been safely activated and discharged before
entering the waste stream. Solid chlorine-based pool chemicals were
stacked on top of the box containing still functional oxygen generators.
Apex firefighters initially responded to a 911 emergency call from a
resident driving past the facility, who reported observing a haze with a
“strong chlorine smell.” When firefighters arrived, they discovered what
was still a small “sofa-size” fire. But that fire spread quickly, most
likely as the aircraft oxygen generators discharged, accelerating the blaze.
“The only fire control equipment on-site consisted of portable,
manually operated fire extinguishers,” said CSB Supervisory Investigator
Rob Hall, P.E., who led the investigation. “The facility lacked fire walls
and automatic fire suppression systems. As a result, the fire spread
quickly into other bays where flammables, corrosives, laboratory wastes,
paints, and pesticides were stored.” The bays were separated by sixinch-high curbs only designed to contain liquid spills.
The facility was destroyed in the ensuing fire and explosions, which
sent fireballs hundreds of feet into the air. About 30 people, including
one firefighter and 12 police officers, required medical evaluation at
local hospitals for respiratory distress and other symptoms that occurred
as a plume from the fire drifted across the area.
Hazardous waste facilities like EQ’s are regulated under the federal
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The investigation
noted that RCRA regulations developed by the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) require facilities to have “fire control equipment” but do
not specify what equipment and systems should be in place. In addition,
there is no national fire code to define good fire protection practices for
hazardous waste facilities.
The CSB identified 22 other hazardous waste fires, explosions, and
releases that have occurred at U.S. hazardous waste facilities in the past
five years. More than a third had adverse community impacts, such as
evacuations, orders to shelter, and transportation disruptions.
Federal RCRA regulations require operators to “familiarize” local
responders in advance concerning facility hazards, but do not describe
what specific information must be shared about stored chemicals, or
define the frequency of communications. Similarly, EPA regulations
under the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know
Act do not require facilities to share information about hazardous wastes
with local agencies, since those wastes are generally exempt from
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules requiring
preparation of material safety data sheets (MSDSs).
In fact, the investigation found that this facility had limited contact
with the Apex Fire Department prior to the October 2006 fire.
“Specific, accurate, up-to-date information on chemical hazards is
essential to emergency response planning,” said CSB Board Member
William Wark, who accompanied the investigative team to Apex in
October 2006. “Communities have a fundamental right to know about
stored hazardous chemicals that may affect their health and well-being.
For first responders, having prompt access to such information is a
matter of basic life safety.”
The CSB report recommended the EPA require that permitted
hazardous waste facilities periodically provide specific, written
information to state and local response officials on the type, approximate
quantities, and location of hazardous materials.
The Board called on the Environmental Technology Council, a trade
association representing about 80 percent of the U.S. hazardous waste
industry, to develop standardized guidance on waste handling and storage
to prevent releases and fires. The CSB also recommended that the
council petition the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)to
develop a specific fire protection standard for the hazardous waste
industry. The new standard should address fire prevention, detection,
control, and suppression. Similar NFPA standards already exist for
other industries, such as wastewater treatment.
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
15768 Hamilton Pool Rd.
Austin, TX 78738
800/247-1024 • Fax 512/263-0002
[email protected] •
600 Marina Drive
Beaumont, TX 77701
409/833-BEST • Fax 409/833-2376
P.O. Box 9161
College Station, TX 77842
979/690-7559 • Fax 979/690-7562
P.O. Box 17947 • Nashville, TN 37217-0947
615/793-5400 • [email protected]
6868 Nicholson Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70820
800/256-3473 • Fax 225/765-2416 • [email protected]
150 Gordon Drive
Exton, PA 19341
24 Hr. Red AlertTM
610/363-1400 • Fax 610/524-9073
Main P.O. Box 616
Niagara Falls, NY 14302-0616
716/278-0136 • Fax 716/282-2669
Ferrara Fire Apparatus, Inc.
Holden, Louisiana
Toll Free 800-443-9006
289 Louisiana Rd;
Port of W. St. Mary
Franklin, LA 70538
“Exclusively in the Foam Business” — Sales & Service
1 Rossmoor Drive
Monroe Township, NJ 08831
690/655-7777 • Fax 609/655-9538
E-mail — [email protected]
150 Gordon Drive
Exton, PA 19341
24 Hr. Red AlertTM
610/363-1400 • Fax 610/524-9073
2600 American
Appleton, WI 54913
920/832-3231 •
P.O. Box 0158
Amlin, OH 43002
150 Gordon Drive
Exton, PA 19341
24 Hr. Red AlertTM
610/363-1400 • Fax 610/524-9073
P.O. Box 1359
Mauriceville, TX 77626
409/727-2347 • Fax 409/745-3021
375 Fifth Ave. N.W.
New Brighton, MN 55112
2630 West 21st St.
Erie, PA 16506 • 800/553-0078
814/838-3957 • Fax 814/838-7339
651/766-6300 • 800/533-9511 • Fax 651/766-6614
3940 Morton Bend Road – Rome, GA 30161
706/291-1222 • Fax 706/291-2255
Industrial fire, hazmat & technical rescue training &
consulting — An FM Global company
P.O. Box 1359
Mauriceville, TX 77626
409/727-2347 • Fax 409/745-3021
P.O.Box 211506
Dallas, TX 75211
Fax 972/243-6504
1601 SW 37th Ave.
Ocala, FL 34474
352/237-1122 •
Register for the
2009 IFW Conference
Valparaiso, IN 46383 • 800/348-2686
[email protected] •
“An American Owned Company.”
P.O. Box 1359
Mauriceville, TX 77626
409/727-2347 • Fax 409/745-3021
Fire Stop Coating &
Penetration Seals
Fax 604/941-1029 •
Subscribe to IFW for 3 Years and Get a
Free IFW Conference Pass
Valparaiso, IN 46383 • 800/348-2686
[email protected] •
“An American Owned Company.”
P.O. Box 1359
Mauriceville, TX 77626
409/727-2347 • Fax 409/745-3021
Manufactured at:
800 Airport Road
North Aurora, IL 60542
Sales Office: 503/659-4198 • Fax 503/659-4696
Register for the
2009 IFW Conference
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
Compliance Testing Services
2357 Ventura Drive Suite 108
Woodbury, MN 55125
Toll Free: (866) 713-2299
Telephone: (651-917-0644
Fax: (651) 917-0646
email: [email protected]
3939 State Highway 6 South
College Station, TX 77845
979/695-8111 •
Fax 979/695-8228
Celebrating 80 Years of Hospitality Excellence
Valparaiso, IN 46383 • 800/348-2686
[email protected] •
“An American Owned Company.”
P.O. Box 1359
Mauriceville, TX 77626
409/727-2347 • Fax 409/745-3021
7027 N. Wabash Ave.
Portland, OR 97217
503/939-9046 •
2355 IH-10 South — Beaumont, TX 77705
409/842-3600 • Fax 409/842-0023
e-mail: [email protected]
Valparaiso, IN 46383 • 800/348-2686
[email protected] •
“An American Owned Company.”
3019 Darnell Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154-3201
800/332-0672 • Fax 215/824-1371
3950 I-10 S & Walden Rd.
Beaumont, TX 77705
409/842-5995 • Fax 409/842-7878
10505 SW Manhasset Drive
Tualatin, OR 97062
503/691-7909 • Fax 503/691-7973
180 Franklin St.
Framingham, MA 01702 • 1-800-729-1482
Gifts, badges, & accessories for firefighters
21 Commerce Drive
Danbury, CT 06810
888/473-6747 • Fax 203/207-9780
P.O.Box 211506
Dallas, TX 75211
Fax 972/243-6504
2630 West 21st St.
Erie, PA 16506 800/553-0078
814/838-3957•Fax 814/838-7339
150 Gordon Drive
Exton, PA 19341
24 Hr. Red AlertTM
610/363-1400 • Fax 610/524-9073
P.O. Box 1359
Mauriceville, TX 77626
409/727-2347 • Fax 409/745-3021
150 Gordon Drive
Exton, PA 19341
24 Hr. Red AlertTM
610/363-1400 • Fax 610/524-9073
P.O. Box 1359
Mauriceville, TX 77626
409/727-2347 • Fax 409/745-3021
Valparaiso, IN 46383 • 800/348-2686
[email protected] •
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103 S. Main St.
Quakertown, PA 18951-1119
215/536-2991 • Fax 215/538-2164
P.O. Box 86 • Wooster, OH 44691
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10505 SW Manhasset Drive
P.O. Box 3390
Tualatin, OR 97062
800/770-7533 • Fax 503/639-4538
P.O. Box 22107
Salt Lake City, UT 84122 •
[email protected]
MAY/JUNE 2008 35
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
Weyerhaeuser/Eaton partner to reduce arc flash risk
iversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corporation today
announced implementation of a plan to assist Weyerhaeuser
Corporation in its efforts to reduce the risk of arc flash
hazards. Arc flash prevention is a critical challenge for a wide range
of industries and manufacturers globally. The strategic approach
positions Weyerhaeuser as an innovator and industry leader on the
issue of employee and facility safety.
One part of this program is a recent effort to enhance safety,
reliability, and productivity at Weyerhaeuser’s integrated paper mill
in Springfield, Oregon.
Personal safety, lost productivity, legal liability, equipment
damage, and facility downtime are just some of the major risks of
arc flash,” said Mike Longman, Eaton’s vice president, marketing
and PowerChain Management. “We’re proud to partner with
Weyerhaeuser and set the example for the right way to deal with the
issue - before problems arise.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA),
an arc flash occurs when an electric current passes through the air
between ungrounded conductors or between ungrounded and
grounded conductors. An arc flash produces some of the highest
temperatures on earth and can create a devastating blast, resulting in
serious injury, burns, and even fatalities.
“Eaton’s turn-key approach gave us a very effective tool to use
in our efforts to better protect our employees from electrical arc
flash hazards,” said Warren Hopper, P.E. senior power advisor Weyerhaeuser, Springfield, Oregon, and manufacturing services
manager - Weyerhaeuser Pulp, Paper and Packaging Manufacturing
Operations. “In the process of addressing critical safety issues,
Eaton’s solutions also enable us to reduce downtime, build efficiency
and, ultimately, contribute to our bottom line.”
Eaton teamed with Weyerhaeuser to provide the paper mill with
new mini vacuum circuit breakers and integral trip units equipped
with its patented Arcflash Reduction Maintenance SystemTM.
These multiple trip settings allow incident energy on low voltage
substation secondary main busses to be reduced
from over 200 calories to less than four during maintenance.
Maintenance personnel are now able to work on this equipment
while energized, safely implementing mill lockout/tagout procedures.
More substation upgrades are planned for the near future. This
innovative approach used to dramatically reduce arc flash hazards in
low and medium voltage substations is suitable for both new and
existing applications.
Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the world’s largest forest products
companies, was incorporated in 1900. In 2007, sales were $16.3
billion. It has offices or operations in 13 countries, with customers
worldwide. Weyerhaeuser is principally engaged in the growing and
harvesting of timber; the manufacture, distribution and sale of forest
products; and real estate construction, development and related
activities. Additional information is available at http://
Eaton’s electrical business is a global leader in electrical control,
power distribution, uninterruptible power supply and industrial
automation products and services. Eaton’s global electrical brands,
including Cutler-Hammer®, MGE Office Protection Systems T,
Powerware®, Holec®, MEM®, Santak and Moeller, provide
customer-driven PowerChain Management® solutions to serve the
power system needs of the industrial, institutional, government,
utility, commercial, residential, IT, mission critical and OEM markets
Eaton Corporation is a diversified industrial manufacturer with
2007 sales of $13.0 billion. Eaton is a global leader in electrical
systems and components for power quality, distribution and control;
hydraulics components, systems and services for industrial and
mobile equipment; hydraulics, fuel and pneumatic systems for
commercial and military aircraft; intelligent truck drive train systems
for safety and fuel economy; and automotive engine air management
systems, power train solutions and specialty controls for
performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has 79,000 employees
and sells products to customers in more than 150 countries. For
more information, visit
Responders battle concrete plant blaze
OSHA promotes training grants
worker using a torch to cut metal ignited
a plastic coating lining a rock bin at a
concrete plant in Medley, FL, on April
22, a report issued by the Miami-Dade Fire
Rescue (MDFR) states.
It took 25 MDFR units and 100 firefighters
45 minutes to extinguish the blaze.
Investigators and plant engineers were called
in to assess the extent of the damage.
Fortunately no injuries were reported.
Responding units could see a giant column
of smoke from over five miles away. When fire
units arrived, they encountered heavy smoke
billowing from a rock bin that was completely
engulfed in flames. Fire crews immediately
initiated a defensive fire attack by positioning
aerial ladder trucks and applying water streams
to adjoining rock bins, which were being
threatened by impinging flames. Due to the
potential for explosion and fire spread,
hundreds of employees were evacuated from
the plant.
The worker involved stated that a spark from
the torch ignited a plastic coating which lines
the interior of the rock bin. He attempted to
extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher but
the extinguisher was inoperable, the MDFR
report states. A giant exhaust fan at the base
of the rock bin fueled the flames by introducing
air into the bin.
The fire spread rapidly and consumed the
A brief statement issued by the owners of
the plant referred to the fire as a “minor”
incident that would not affect the production
he Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) announced in March that it is seeking applications for Susan Harwood Training
Grants to nonprofit organizations for
training and education programs on
safety and health topics.
Nonprofit organizations, including
community- and faith-based organizations, that are not state or local government agencies, are eligible to apply.
The application deadline is May 23.
Approximately $6.7 million is available for the Harwood targeted topic
training grants. Applications for grants
must be submitted electronically using
4/24/2008, 4:34 PM
Richard Coates
Johnson Controls
Joseph H. Gross
Roberts Company, Inc.
Kenneth Roxberry
Premix Inc.
Kendall C. Crawford
Crawford Consulting Associates
Mark A. Hawkinson
BP America Production Co.
Robert Stegall
Rio Tinto Mineral Co.
Jerry W. Craft
Williams Fire & Hazard Control, Inc.
John A. Meleta
L.A. County Fire Dept. Capt. (Ret.)
Thomas G. Talley
Deep South Crane & Rigging Co.
Woody Cole
Calpine Corporation
Larry Phillips
Northwest Region Fire/Rescue
Sherrie C. Wilson
Dallas Fire Rescue/Emergency
Management Rescue
John A. Frank
XL GAP Services
Niall Ramsden
Resource Protection International
Robert J. Wood
Chevron (Ret.)
New Products
MSA’s new FireHawk® M7 Responder Air
Mask represents versatile SCBA protection
that can quickly be transformed into a CBRN
air-purifying respirator (APR) or a CBRN
powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR). Just
open or close the SCBA cylinder valve to
convert to another mode—as your job changes
from first response and rescue to scene
management and remediation activities.This
practical emergency respiratory protection
system meets/exceeds the latest requirements
of NFPA and NIOSH standards.
In keeping with NFPA-2007 requirements,
the FireHawk M7 Responder Air Mask
Patent-pending M7 PASS alarm designed
to perform above the required 95 decibels at
500ºF, with highly reliable accelerometer
motion sensor.
• Electronics encased within hightemperature impact-grade polymer with
hermetic sealing provide the highest protection
against impact and water.
For more information, contact MSA at 1877.MSA-FIRE or visit the MSA website at
Leading global safety equipment
manufacturer Draeger Safety is introducing a
new line of life-saving products for tracking
downed firefighters.
The company has entered into an exclusive
manufacturing and supply agreement with Exit
Technologies of Boulder Colorado, original
developer of the Tracker FRT (Firefighter
Rescue Transceiver) and ET (Egress
Transmitter). The products were introduced
this month at FDIC 2008 under the names
Draeger FRT 1000 and Draeger ETR 1000.
The Draeger FRT 1000 is a low-frequency 457
kHz radio transmitter and receiver both
contained in the same handheld unit. It is worn
on the SCBA belt during fireground operations
in conjunction with an integrated or stand-alone
PASS device. When the firefighter stops moving
for 60 seconds, it sends an electromagnetic
distress signal that can be tracked by others on
the fireground that are also wearing a Draeger
FRT 1000. The signal transmission can also be
activated manually by the distressed firefighter
while issuing a Mayday.
For more information, contact product
manager Greg Sesny at (412)788-5650.
Honeywell Analytics announces a new
detection-calibration kit — complete with the
MicroDock II Test-Calibration Docking
System. It offers customers and prospects a
way to experience first-hand the company’s
new X-Series line of durable, easy-to-use
portable gas detection instrumentation, which
has the capability of protecting an entire crew
from toxic and combustible gas hazards.
Honeywell Analytics offers a wide range of
gas detection devices to suit all types of
applications and industries. For more
information about our products and services,
visit, e-mail
[email protected] or call toll-free 1
800 538-0363.
Register for the
2009 IFW Conference
4/24/2008, 4:00 PM
July 2008:
8-11, 22-25
Entry Level Industrial Firefighter
8-11, 22-25
Industrial Fire Brigade Leader
15-18, 29-Aug 1 Advanced Exterior Industrial Firefighter
August 2008:
Entry Level Industrial Firefighter
Industrial Fire Brigade Leader
Advanced Exterior Industrial Firefighter
4/24/2008, 4:01 PM
[email protected]
Hydrocarbons & Polar Solvents
dominates ALL tests,
proving itself in the
laboratory as it has
on the job time and time
again ...
SINCE 1980
IFW.indd 1
4/7/08 8:30:16 PM