Training guarantees BP competence
Volume 24, No. 1
Firefighters in the United Kingdom like to call a spade a spade when it comes to naming their equipment, said Tommy Clark, emergency response manager at BP’s Sullom Voe oil terminal, five miles off the coast of Scotland.
“In the U.S. you talk about Ys and Siameses,” Clark said. “We just call it a collective divider. That’s what it does – collect and divide. The other students said ‘I like that – we can understand that.’”
Clark was among 102 students and instructors on hand for BP’s semi-annual corporate fire training school held at the Texas Engineering Extension Services’ Emergency Services Training Institute at Texas A&M University. Beside the U.S. and the U.K., countries represented included Egypt, Azerbaijan and Germany.
Visiting ESTI for the first time, Clark served as an instructor for advanced fire fighting. The course involves giving the team a basic understanding of fire fighting and giving them the skills that BP expects them to have.
Brad Byczynski, discipline leader for BP’s global refining emergency response, said the corporate fire training school is a legacy that goes back to 1975.
“How do we assure that our responders in our facilities are competent?,” Byczynski said. “This is one mechanism of many that help assure us of our responders’ competencies. It also assures us that we are compliant with all the necessary regulations.”
However, not all the attendees at the school are firefighters. Erkim Sanani works for BP in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“I’m responsible for all the emergency situations at the facility, coordinating and organizing training,” Sanani said. “I write procedures to bridge between fire-rescue team operations and the management team of the city responders. Although I’m not a firefighter, I need to know what is going on.”
In particular, Sanani and two other firefighters accompanying him were interested in leadership skills and gaining knowledge of fire ground tactics.
Another visitor, Kevin McBride from Malaysia, served as an instructor on the process unit prop. He compares his operation in Kuantan, an industrial center in Malaysia, to the Refinery Terminal Fire Company in Corpus Christi, TX. RTFC is a non-profit industrial emergency response services organization protecting most of the area plants and refineries.
“Our operation is a joint venture of BP, Dow and Exxon Mobil with PETRONAS, the national oil company in Malaysia,” McBride said. “PETRONAS is the majority shareholder and the other companies involved are minority shareholders. My position has to be filled with someone from either BP, Dow or ExxonMobil.”
McBride’s Central Emergency Fire Service in Kuantan provides fire, rescue, hazmat and ambulance service to 16 facilities, including a refinery, a gas plant, crude oil terminal and a marine port. McBride also protects an assortment of specialty chemical companies with products ranging from ethylene, polyethylene, PBC and vinyl chloride monomer.
“I’ve got three fire stations and our own training ground,” McBride said. “We have 126 firefighters and six officers. Each station has its own station commander. We have 10 fire trucks, three ambulances, a couple of mobile command centers and a slew of other miscellaneous equipment.”
McBride has served as an instructor at the BP school since 2002. Each school focuses on much the same issues, he said.
“As always safety in our firefighting operations is generally stressed very heavily,” he said. “I think we are putting a lot of focus on effective streams use, fire ground hydraulics and the chemistry of fire. We are focusing on what’s going on rather than just spraying the white stuff on the red stuff.”
According to Byczynski, future plans for the fire school include more senior level classes for senior leaders. In Spring 2009, the BP school will join forces with the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center for a class on fire hazard analysis for BP engineers.
“We want to take the theoretical data we are generating and give them a picture of what is going on,” Byczynski said. “It means marrying up the theoretical engineering aspect with the practical, tactical approach.”