John Coates, emergency response specialist for BP’s Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey (AGT) Region Midstream Team, spoke loud to be heard above the roar of a live-fire training prop at Texas A&M University’s Brayton Fire Training Field last October.
“This is our evaluation,” he said, referring to the training scenario playing out on the multi-story process unit prop behind him.
Training at the semi-annual corporate fire training school conducted by BP at Brayton divides into two categories – advanced exterior fire fighting and leadership. Coates served as lead instructor for AEF1, based on the NFPA 1081 standard.
“Every AEF1 class has to go through an evaluation process,” Coates said. “The class splits into three groups and rotates through the various training stations. The last station is the process unit, which is used as a practical evaluation.”
BP’s school in October boasted a student body of 35 for AEF1 and more than 20 leadership students. While most were from across the U.S., some came from distant places such as Azerbaijan, Egypt and Australia.
AGT Region sent Coates as an instructor and two others, which included new Sangachal Terminal Fire Chief Sakhavat Kazimov for and a fire shift commander.
“Sakhavat worked his way up from a driver-operator to become the newest BP employee in Azerbaijan and the first full time tactical response employee,” Coates said.
A training coordinator, contracted by Resource Protection International (RPI), attended, working in the background of the school to support Jennifer Dauer the BP coordinator for the fire school. Although she had worn bunker gear on the training field earlier in the week, she was observing from the sidelines when interviewed.
“I like fighting fire,” she said. “For explaining about the fire it is sometimes easy and sometimes difficult.” Because language can be a problem, she said she collected as many photographs of the training as possible.
Coates said that coordination of training events plays an important role in coordinating “Hell Week,” an annual live fire training event in Azerbaijan that mirrors the BP corporate fire school.
Brad Byczynski, discipline leader for BP’s global refining emergency response, took charge of the second prong of the annual corporate school – leadership training.
“It is something that has continued to evolve and that we have continued to pursue,” Byczynski said. “It’s really about developing front line leaders.”
The leadership course focuses not only on the practical aspects of running a fire operation but the more philosophical aspects such as how to properly give orders, how to motivate and how to get the team to pull in one direction.
While two-thirds of the course is taught in the classroom, an important one-third consists of training on the fire ground, Byczynski said.
“They get real time feedback on the fire ground,” he said. “The training is video recorded to assess how the student performed and give them further feedback in the classroom.”
For much of the last nine years, Brayton has been the sole host for the leadership portion of the corporate fire school. However, BP has begun conducting leadership classes in fire fighting in Malaysia as well, Byczynski said.
“We are looking at holding them in Australia too,” he said.