Article Archive
Hands-On Management
BP Corporate Fire School Brings International Visitors to Texas
Volume 23. No 4

A challenge awaits Fay Crawford, crisis management advisor for BP North Africa. In a few minutes she and team of fellow students attending BP's semi-annual corporate fire training school will tackle the most imposing live-fire prop at the Emergency Services Training Institute in Texas - the multi-story chemical complex.

The five-day school has been Crawford's first direct experience with firefighting.

"I've found it all worthwhile," she said.

BP drew 117 students for its May school held in College Station, including students from Germany, Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, China and Trinidad. The school provides participants a mix of training including classroom studies and live-fire field exercises.? During the field exercises, firefighters observe the characteristics of different types of fire, then apply various techniques for extinguishing or controlling it.

Crawford, based in the U.K., supports BP businesses in Algeria and Libya. She teaches crisis management to BP's incident management teams and business support teams.

"In my role it is highly unlikely I will ever hold a fire hose in anger, but it is extremely important that I understand what a firefighter faces," she said. "This has also put me in a stronger position to educate the management team members for when they are providing support to responders on scene."

The people on the scene are always the primary concern in an emergency, Crawford said.

"Now I better under-stand the issues that go with that," she said. "I think I can train incident managers much better so that they don't hinder response but help it."

On each prop, stu-dents are given 20 minutes to plan their strategy based on the training scenario. The students then lay hose appropriate to the scenario planned. Once the fire begins, instruct-ors can answer ques-tions for students but give no advice.

Instructors are only allowed to step in one second before the student gets into trouble.

"You might hear the instructor ask, 'Have you assessed your posi-tion?" one BP instructor advised. "He might ask, 'Have you looked at the risk in front of you?' That is a clue that you're about to get into trou-ble."

The scenario calls for four different fuel sources on different levels of the chemical complex. First, the students are to put into place an effective fixed master stream to control the major fuel source.

Next, they put into place two portable master streams for further cooling. Forward observers spotting for the master streams must use the correct hand signals to communicate. Finally, the students break into two attack groups using four hose lines.

Another first time visitor to ESTI was Sami Siad Mohammed, a health and environment official with United Gas Derivatives Company. In a joint venture with BP, UGDC owns and operates the largest natural gas liquids deep cut extraction plant in Egypt, processing 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.

Mohammed's department includes the fire brigade, of which he is a member.

"My job is to take the new information I learn here back home," Mohammed said.

Another student, Enrique Penny, works as a maintenance coordinator at a BP facility in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The fire brigade he belongs to is responsible for a jet fuel tank farm.

"I have picked up a lot of tips to improve my performance," Penny said. "For example, calculating the amount of foam you need and at what percent."

The day before, Penny participated in rescue exercises. The object of the rescue was a dummy that Penny dubbed "Buster" in honor of the target of abuse on the television show "Mythbusters."

"I am one of the biggest, tallest people on my fire brigade," Penny said. "I had to pick up that dummy yesterday and it has to weigh more than 200 pounds."


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