Baton Rouge Hosts Latest Conference
Vol 21 No 3
Reports of Louisiana's tragic decline in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been greatly exaggerated judging by the healthy welcome for the 21st annual Industrial Fire World Conference & Exposition held in March in Baton Rouge.Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin "Kip" Holden presented a proclamation declaring the opening day of IFW activities as "Industrial Fire World Conference & Exhibition Day."
"First responders are very important," Holden told an IFW audience. "The one thing we need to remember throughout this conference is that you are the difference between life and death. When you hear that, understand the magnitude of the job you perform."
Former Union Carbide Fire Chief Joe Brantley led the gathering in a special prayer."As we come to Baton Rouge for the 21st annual Industrial Fire World conference we are ever mindful of the great tragedy and issues that face the people of the Gulf Coast, especially in Louisiana."
"Remember," Brantley said, "that Americans have an indominable spirit."Baton Rouge Fire Chief Ed Smith noted that IFW had already created much excitement working with LSU's Fire and Emergency Training Institute and the Louisiana Hired Gun Gang mutual aid organization to conduct a Big Gun Shootout, using large volume monitors to set a new world record for flowing 30,966 gpm in a single fire exercise.
"As we, the municipal firefighters, interact with the industrial side we have a great relationship," Smith said.
FETI Manager Richard Browning told the IFW audience that the industrial sector of the fire protection world remains very important.
"You're what keeps America going and going," Browning said. "In Baton Rouge, the night skies are lit by the large industrial plants. We want to keep it that way. But we want those lights to stay yellow and white, not glowing orange."IFW chairman David White put IFW's role into perspective.
"We are here for you," White said. "This isn't our show -- it's yours. We just have the magic wands that open the doors."
One of the chief architects of the Baton Rouge conference was not there to enjoy it. David Cox, FETI assistant director for industrial programs, died suddenly in January. Cox's wife, Paulette, accepted the Connie Award presented to Cox postumously."David was so excited and so pleased to be a part of bring this national conference to Baton Rouge and putting LSU's FETI in the forefront of the nation's fire service."
The Connie Award is presented to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to education on industrial fire protection. The award is named for the late Connie Gross of the Roberts Company.
Also honored was the Louisiana Hired Gun Gang, officially known as the Louisiana Emergency Resources Supply Network, a mutual aid organization for companies using Williams Fire & Hazard Control large-volume monitors.
The Red Adair Award, named for one of the greatest figures in modern firefighting was presented to the following members of the Hired Gun Gang: Chevron Texaco Pascagoula, MS, refinery; Citgo Lake Charles, LA, complex; ConocoPhillips Lake Charles refinery; ConocoPhillips Alliance Refinery in Belle Chase, LA; Cytec Industries in Westwego, LA; Dow Chemicals Taft plant in Hanhville, LA; Dow Chemicals Louisiana Division in Plaquemine; ExxonMobil Baton Rouge complex; ExxonMobil Chalmette, LA, refinery; Motiva Enterprise Convent, LA refinery; Industrial Fire Services in Gonzalez, LA; LOOP, LLC in Cutoff, LA; Murphy Oil Meraux, LA, refinery; Shell Motiva Norco, LA, complex; Valero St. Charles refinery in Norco, and Williams Fire & Hazard Control.
Baton Rouge's ExxonMobil refinery also used the occasion to demonstrate its newest fire fighting aquisition, the largest industrial fire boat in operation on the Mississippi River. Attendees had only to cross the street from the Baton Rouge River Center to reach the boat.
Since 1989, the ExxonMobil volunteer firefighting team has responded to fires on the Mississippi 11 times, the most recent being a burning hydrocarbon barge in 2000 and a burning gasoline barge in 2001.
The Volunteer (see page 6), with five times the fire fighting power of the fireboat it is replacing, carries 2,120 gallons of foam and 900 pounds of dry chemical. Unlike the fire boat, firefighting apparatus is stowed on deck, making it readily accessible. The Volunteer is staffed by ExxonMobil's Volunteer Fie Brigade, the only firefighters in the port to be certified by the U.S. Coast Guard for marine and shipboard fire fighting.
Presentations by many of this year's speakers will serve as the foundation of articles to be published in IFW in the coming months. To name only a few, fire chiefs Jerry Craft and Dale Pirc discussed details from two of the major industrial disasters that marred the 1980s and Kelvin Hardingham of Williams F&HC gave a first-hand account of fire fighting efforts during a massive fuel tank farm fire near London in December.
Preparations are already in the works for the next IFW Conference & Expo to be held March 26-30, 2007 in Beaumont, TX