What defines hands-on live fire training as opposed to the purely technical aspects of energy risk engineering? David Robertson, Global Head of Energy Risk Consulting for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty has a two-word answer – intense heat.
“When you’ve stood there and felt all that intense radiant heat, it gives you an entirely different perspective from what you get sitting at a desk,” Robertson said. “And this type of experience gives our team a much more realistic view of our insured’s exposures and loss control issues.”
Allianz operates a team of risk engineers with extensive oil and gas experience across the offshore and onshore energy sectors. In March, the team added to their vast experience with live fire training at Texas A&M’s Texas Engineering Extension Service.
The team went through numerous hydrocarbon fire training exercises ranging from using hand held extinguishers to put out gasoline pool fires to running multiple hose line attacks on three dimensional, multi-source fires in refinery processing units. There were also demonstrations of extinguishing large liquid natural gas fires and using water curtains to limit the spread of vapor clouds and reduce the magnitude of vapor cloud explosions.
Of the 11 team members – four from the US, three from the UK, three from Singapore and one from Germany – only two had previously attended the fire school in College Station, TX.
“Once a year our engineering team from around the globe gets together to review what we did during the previous year, and chart our course for the coming year” Robertson said. “This year we’ve come to the fire school to get up close and personal with the kind of events we talk to our clients about all the time.”
“Much of our work involves risk evaluations of energy production, refining, petrochemical and distribution activities,” Robertson said. “We visit these facilities and assess what they do, how they do it and how safely they do it. Then we use this information to help our underwriting team understand and quantify the risks of our insureds. This gives us a much clearer idea about what Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty is insuring and allows us to pass along ideas to help our insureds reduce their exposures and improve their overall risk profile.”
Ideally, Job One for the Allianz risk engineers is to help its clients keep their materials in the pipes, he said. “Next to that, we want to be sure they have the ability to deal with fire situations as they occur,” Robertson said. “That includes fire fighting.”
“The Allianz Energy team works with insureds to develop innovative risk engineering solutions and develop sustainable partnerships,” he said.
The experience gained at TEEX fire school gives the Allianz engineers a broader insight on which to base those solutions.
“This live fire training gives you a much better understanding of the exposures, the impact of fire, how you can control it and the effectiveness of manual firefighting,” Robertson said.
Also, as a team building activity, hands-on fire training is hard to beat, he said. “You’ve got to watch each other’s back and take care of each other,” Robertson said. Last year’s team building activity was a tour of the BMW auto museum in Munich, Germany.
“The museum was very interesting but this is a whole lot different,” Robertson said. “We’re having a great time and getting some very practical experience.”