When security and fire protection giant Tyco Fire Protection Products acquired Williams Fire and Hazard Control (WF&HC) as part of its Chemguard deal in 2011, the company’s long-time production and testing facility in Mauriceville, TX, was not part of the package, said Chauncey Naylor, director, training and emergency response operations, WF&HC.
“Tyco’s practice is they don’t acquire property, they acquire assets,” Naylor said. “They bought the company’s name and its brands, but they did not purchase the property in Mauriceville.”
WF&HC needed to find a new home. In October 2013, a grand opening ceremony dedicated a 70,000-square-foot production and testing headquarters plus training center in nearby Port Arthur, still convenient to East Texas’ major petroleum and chemical industries.
“I don’t think you’ll see anything like it in the world to my knowledge,” said Naylor.
For WF&HC, the new facility represented a chance to consolidate the manufacturing of its specialized response equipment – specialty foam nozzles, high-flow firewater pumps, foam concentrates, monitor trailers, apparatus and portable foam proportioning systems, dry chemical extinguishing packages and engineered fire suppression systems – under one roof.
“As we had grown over the years in Mauriceville, we added buildings as needed,” Naylor said. “We never slowed down enough to get everything in one spot. The acquisition has been an opportunity for us to bring it all together and make it state-of-the-art.”
To begin, Tyco commissioned a work flow study of the WF&HC production process as the basis for the new facility in Port Arthur.
“What comes in as raw material leaves as finished products with no duplication of effort,” Naylor said. “The flow study helped us make sense of how the equipment should travel through the building as it is assembled. It makes for a very streamlined, efficient operation.”
Finding a location for the new facility was also subject to intense research, he said.
“They took a map and placed dots on it representing the home of every employee,” Naylor said. “Then they chose a spot right in the middle for the new building. We wanted it to be centrally located to accommodate our employees’ lives.”
At least half of WF&HC’s personnel had their daily commute shortened by the move, Naylor said. The longest commute to work for an employee is about 45 minutes, he said.
Although enough new space exists to incorporate the entire WF&HC production process, the company continues to outsource finishing, painting and coating to another firm now only 10 minutes away, Naylor said.
WF&HC will also continue to maintain a machine shop and other works at a facility in Washington, IN, about 100 miles south of Indianapolis. That facility had a close brush with a natural disaster on Nov. 17 when an EF-2 tornado destroyed nine homes in Washington and damaged another 14.
“It passed within 600 feet of our shop,” Naylor said. “It had our folks up there pretty worried.”
Once completed, the equipment requires testing. The new WF&HC facility includes a 600-foot outdoor testing range where portable monitors capable of flowing 10,000 to 12,000 gallons per minute can be operated safely.
“The water is captured and runs back into a giant Olympic- sized swimming pool,” Naylor said. “The water is kept filtered and reusable.”
For regional customers, the advantage is a place where they can bring their monitors and portable pumps for performance testing, maintenance and training.
“A lot of refineries can’t flow big water on their property,” Naylor said. “Either they’ve built a process unit or a tank farm where they used to flow water, or they can’t flow big water for environmental reasons. So they don’t get to practice often with their large volume equipment.”
Customers can use the new test facility to give personnel a chance to become proficient with their WF&HC equipment, he said. It also provides an opportunity for preventative main-tenance, testing and certification.
“They can bring their pump here and have all the preventative maintenance done, have it flow tested and certified,” Naylor said. “That will be particularly convenient for the Gulf Coast area. They can also send their experienced employees in for refresher training and their newer people in for an awareness program.”
Whereas many places specialize in fire truck maintenance, almost no one works with portable pumps the same way, he said.
“A lot of refineries may start their 6,000 gpm pumps only once a week to throw a little water,” Naylor said. “When they run that pump, it’s best to run it under load, run it hard and warm.”
To facilitate further training, the new WF&HC home comes complete with a main conference room that offers high-tech accommodations for 30 people, plus five breakout rooms for smaller gatherings. Education focuses on response tactics, equipment operations and command logistics.
“What we’ve designed here is a production facility with a world-class training center,” Naylor said.
Tyco Fire Protection Products is a strategically aligned business unit of Tyco International with globally recognized products sold under leading brands, including ANSUL, CHEMGUARD, DBE, EZCare, FLAMEVision, GRINNELL, HYGOOD, NEURUPPIN, PYRO-CHEM, RAPID RESPONSE, SIMPLEX, SKUM, SPRINKCAD, THORN SECURITY, VIGILANT, Williams Fire & Hazard Control and ZETTLER.