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Down Mobile Way
IFW holds its 26th annual event in a historic Alabama community
Vol. 26 Summer

Disasters Man-Made,” a book co-written by Industrial Fire World publisher David White and IFW editor Anton Riecher documenting many of the worst U.S. industrial disasters since Texas City in 1947, enjoyed its first official book signing during the 26th annual IFW Emergency Responder Training and Expo held in April in Mobile.

“Book sales were brisk,” White said. “These are the details that are not heard on the 5 O’Clock News about firefighters risking their lives to spare their communities the economic impact of losing a plant or refinery. To learn more about “Disasters Man-Made,” visit

Pre-conference live-fire demonstrations that included DuPont’s Thermo-Man, an advanced computerized burn injury evaluation system, were conducted at the Gulf Coast Emergency Response Academy in Axis, AL.

Thermo-Man is a life-size mannequin with 122 thermal sensors used to predict level, extent and location of potential burns when flame resistant garments are exposed to short bursts of intense flame. The demonstration unit duplicates testing done at DuPont laboratories in Richmond, VA.

“The calorimeters or heat sensors measure the amount of heat that would reach the human body in a flash fire scenario,” said Dan Bowen, technical marketing specialist for DuPont Protection Technologies.

Other live-fire demonstrations conducted at GCERA included products by Dr. Sthamer – Hamburg; Portland, OR-based International Fog; Dallas-based Flame Management and Virginia-based Hiller Systems.

The general session and workshops for the conference were held at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile. Key speakers included Chauncey Naylor, lead firefighters for Williams Fire & Hazard Control, who explained how their team provided fire protection during the efforts to collect and flare the Gulf Coast oil leak following the explosion and fire that sank the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig last year.

“We embarked on a project that had never happened before in the business – a deepwater blowout,” Naylor said. “We were fortunate enough to be part of that. We were important because they had no fire protection. We became the local 911.”

The distinction of being part of this emergency operation is that the finest engineers and maritime experts worldwide were being called to the scene, Naylor said. “They were able to hire anyone in the world and they hired us,” he said. “They hired a bunch of rednecks from Mauriceville (TX) to watch their backs.”

Naylor was presented with the annual Red Adair Award for industrial firefighters who dealt successfully with a radical new challenge. David Owens of the Beaumont, TX-based Industrial Rescue Instruction Systems received the Joe Gross Award which recognizes innovators in the industrial fire services.

The Connie Award, named for the late Connie Gross, was awarded to IFW editor Anton Riecher in recognition of his efforts to foster education in the industrial fire service.

Other general session speakers included Dwight Williams of Williams F&HC and Todd Duke of Resolve Marine Group who introduced their newest innovation in tank fire suppression.

Speaking on radiation emergencies in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster was Jim McNees of the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Office of Radiation Control. Exposure to radiation can break the bonds that hold DNA together, McNees said. That damage can take a long period of time to reveal itself.

“If the cell dies, you’re in good shape,” McNees said. “But if that cell lives and successfully reproduces, that offspring might not know what kind of cell it should be.”

Presenting workshops were Jan Knappert of foam maker Dr. Sthamer – Hamburg; Les Powell of Westlake Chemical; Sherrie Wilson of Emergency Management Resources and John Frank and Jeff Roberts of XL GAPS.   


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