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Xtreme Challenge
Williams F&HC continues a Texas tradition
Volume 25 Summer

Last May saw the opening of what has become a Texas Spring tradition – the annual Les Williams Advanced Flammable Liquid Firefighting Foam Technology Workshop, better known as the Williams Fire & Hazard Control (WF&HC) XTREME Industrial Fire & Hazard Training 2010. Luckily for me I was able to attend the entire event this year.

Why XTREME? The reason is simple – the fires that industrial and municipal responders face involving large volumes of flammable liquids and gasses at high pressures are just that extreme! Likewise, these fires require an extreme understanding of the nature of the beast, i.e., a working knowledge of the science involved in order to stay safe and be successful.

Does a spill fire spread across a wide area burn the same as fuel in depth? What is the difference when fuel is in transmission and under pressure? Does crude oil burn differently from refined product? WFHC knows the answers and is willing to share it with the fire fighting community, both municipal and industrial.

More than 150 firefighters gathered at the MCM Eleganté Hotel in Beaumont, TX, for four days of intensive training. Just as important was the camaraderie that naturally arises when any group of firefighters comes together in one spot. The school drew firefighters from Russia, Azerbaijan, United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago and other locations across the globe. Their common goal was to learn from the masters at Williams Fire & Hazard Control.

Each year classroom sessions feature different tactics involved in scenarios ranging from fuel-in-depth fires to three-dimensional fires. These sessions include case studies, tactical studies, incident assessment, equipment evolution, foam applications and large volume advanced equipment applications.

With the advent of ethanol blended fuel stocks, municipal firefighters find themselves addressing emergencies that might be quite different from their previous experience in dealing with tanker rollovers, loading stations and fuel terminals.

WFHC’s experience with polar solvents for the last three decades provides a unique insight for the XTREME event participants. Specialized Type III applications developed by WFHC were on display, showing how successful proper foam application can be in an ethanol fire.

Williams F&HC took the opportunity to introduce its third generation of ThunderStorm ATC AR-AFFF form.

“We continue to push the envelope and demand more and more from our foam and our equipment,” Williams F&HC CFO Dwight Williams said. “We have gained such a tactical advantage with this blend of 1x3 that the logistics of foam use – purchasing, storing, staging or deploying and field proportioning – are reduced.”

The logistics of using this foam have become so streamlined that ThunderStorm 1x3 is user friendly for all staging scenarios – in plants, on docks and on quick attack trailers, Williams said.

“In particular, the new ThunderStorm 1x3 was very impressive on the 42-foot diameter storage tank prop,” he said. “It even managed to impress me.”

Other tactical developments showcased the Gorilla 500 pound PKW vessel that supports both deck mounted and handline dry chemical assault simultaneously, a new mid-range Hydrochem Flex nozzle (water/foam and dry chemical attack), and the Survivor nozzle, a blast proof nozzle installed at grade level in process areas that flows an upward water/foam stream and fog application that can be defined to target surrounding assets.

A testament to the depth of Williams Fire & Hazard Control is that during the week of the school, the company was also sourcing three separate incidents. Chauncey Naylor and Herman Ladner were assigned to the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Other WFHC personnel were deployed on short notice to Southwest Louisiana to handle sunken roof incidents. The remaining WFHC team pulled together to manage the fire school.

By the end of the week, I doubt you could find anyone who did not learn a great deal. That includes five visiting UK fire service veterans who Dwight personally coached on the proper way to eat crawfish. Those fellows returned home with a well-rounded education as gourmets and firefighters – most importantly as firefighters.                        


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