Article Archive
Dave's Notes
Washing Away The Pain
Vol 21 No 3

Twenty-one years of publishing Industrial Fire World has given us the opportunity to see tremendous advances in technology. Some terrible events have occurred and we've seen industry change in that the way we respond to fire. This has all been brought about because of economics, 9-11 and, in particular, process safety management. PSM and other programs have reduced the number and size of major event tremendous in industry. But because we are not having as many events, it is all that much more important that we train to a level that we will be prepared to respond to major events when they occur. Despite all our efforts, we still have staggering incidents such as the Buncefield oil terminal explosion in December in the U.K. that involved 20 storage tank fires, six full surface dike fires and extensive damage to surrounding businesses. IFW is far from being out of business.

Buncefield also illustrates changes in public opinion regarding fire fighting. At one time the option existed to let a storage tank burn itself out over a three-or-four day period while making a minimum effort for the sake of appearances. Today, the regulators and environmentalists will not tolerate that attitude. The Louisiana Emergency Resources Supply Network, also known as the Hired Gun Gang, is a perfect example of cooperation and what can be achieved by bringing everybody's resources together, making plans and then training. Their objective at the recent Industrial Fire World Conference and Exposition in Baton Rouge was to prove they could develop a minimum of 25,000 gallons per minute of water and foam and deliver it to a storage tank on fire via large-capacity monitors, proving that they were capable of dealing with the largest potential storage tank fire along the Mississippi industrial corridor. That type of resource must be available all over the nation and around the world.

No one company is capable of extinguishing a jumbo storage tank alone. The pumps, hose, monitors, manpower and foam needed are more than any single company can muster. But, by combining with a network of other organizations and companies, enough resources can be pooled to cope with the emergency. That is what the Hired Gun Gang proved on March 27 at the LSU Fire & Emergency Training Institute when it set a record for the largest fire flow in history -- 30,966 gpm in water and foam (see page 16). And this was accomplished in a region that has just suffered one of the largest natural disasters in world history. Yet this organization was still able to bring together their people, training and planning to accomplish this mighty feat. If anything proves that Louisiana and its industry is alive and kicking, this was it. In recognition of this Industrial Fire World awarded the Hired Gun Gang its annual Red Adair Award in recognition of an accomplishment that might not be possible anywhere else in the world.

The Hired Gun Gang is only one of many Louisiana-based companies and organizations that helped to make the recent conference and exposition one of the best in IFW history. We must also thank LSU's FETI, Ferrara Fire Apparatus and the Baton Rouge Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for going the extra mile and beyond to make the IFW attendees and exhibitors welcome guests. Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin "Kip" Holden presented a proclamation declaring the opening day of IFW activities as "Industrial Fire World Conference & Exhibition Day."

All of this sets the bar very high for our 22nd IFW Conference & Exposition, to be held March 26-30, 2007, in Beaumont, TX, home of the Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex. One important avenue we are exploring is more certified training to meet increasingly stringent OSHA requirements to prove emergency skills. Beaumont is where new fire service history will be made next year.


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