Firefighters tackle the marine firefighting project at TEEX. - Photo by Anton Riecher

Firefighters tackle the marine firefighting project at TEEX.

Photo by Anton Riecher

Just as the landscape of firefighting hazards evolves, so too must the training that supports today’s fire brigades.

Answering this call, Johnson Controls' Williams Fire & Hazard Control team has adapted the curriculum for this year’s Xtreme Industrial Fire & Hazard Response Training to “cut straight to the heart of what makes the company unique,” said Chauncey Naylor, Williams director of emergency response and training. “We’re focusing on exactly what our business is about,” Naylor said. “It’s about big flow, big water, big delivery and foam.” This June, Xtreme training will attack the big hazards!

The annual four-day event, combines in-depth classroom sessions with live-fire exercises and will be held June 3 through 6 at Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Brayton Fire Training Field, and the Hilton College Station and Conference Center in College Station, TX.

Classroom study includes various incident profiles and fire dynamics, foam and dry chemical application, response logistics and large-volume equipment applications. Instructors cover the latest methodologies and fire behavior using real-life case studies and insights into typical industrial operating profiles and their inherent exposures.

Classroom study is then transitioned to the training field and tested. Attendees work directly with the accomplished Williams Emergency Response Team, benefitting from their frontline experience on over 250 major incidents. Enrollment is limited to insure each participant adequate time with all training props. This year, students will have the opportunity to tackle Crude by Rail and Marine Ship Deck props, recently added to the curriculum.

“In recent years attendance has been split almost 50/50 between industrial firefighters and municipal firefighters with industrial hazards in their jurisdiction,” Naylor said. “To that end, we’ve added Brayton’s Crude by Rail scenario to the list of live-fire projects to be tackled.”

The Crude by Rail project simulates a derailment emergency using three toppled railroad tank cars, each with multiple flammable liquid leak sources, creating a spill fire. On the rear car there are also three simulated hazardous material leaks. Students receive instruction on the proper use of equipment, attack methods, approaches, foam applications techniques and compatibility of foams and dry chemical extinguishers. 

“Lessons learned from the Crude by Rail project are easily applied to emergencies involving highway transportation of crude,” said Lee Hall, Williams senior technical trainer.

Also being added to the Xtreme live-fire curriculum this year is Brayton’s 300-foot Marine Ship Deck firefighting mock-up. Naylor said the students will concentrate on the forward deck area that can simulate a number of hazards found at any refinery loading dock – burning barrels, overflowing expansion trucks, manifold fires, confined and unconfined spills on deck, cargo tank fires and electrical fires.  “That’s a great prop for learning to deliver foam into a confined space,” Hall added.

TEEX's crude by rail project is ignited. - Photo by Anton Riecher

TEEX's crude by rail project is ignited.

Photo by Anton Riecher

Held over from previous Xtreme schools will be Brayton’s various storage tank and dike firefighting projects. In addition, the Xtreme training will again utilize Project 47, a 45-foot storage tank fire prop, the largest available, built in cooperation between TEEX and the Williams business, as a key component for Xtreme training.  “Most live-fire training projects are, at best, a drastically reduced version of the true incident”, Naylor said; however, Project 47 is different.

“We were able to build exactly what a firefighter is going to see in real life,” Naylor explained. “There is no guessing, no imagination.”

The tank prop is distinctive in that it can be used to simulate either a full-surface fire or a simple seal fire around the tank rim.  Think of it as a deep pan that remains mostly unused save for the upturned lid sitting atop it. For a full surface fire, the shallow “lid” is filled with water. A thin layer of training fuel floating atop the water is ignited, extending flames across the entire surface of the tank.

 “With that water bottom, some people may think that it doesn’t simulate the true challenge of a real storage tank fire,” Naylor commented. “In fact, it is more rigorous than testing with fuel in depth. If the foam can survive plunging through the surface without being diluted and still put out the fire in record time, then you know you have good foam.”

By reducing the water level, the fuel can be channeled against the tank shell to simulate a seal fire around the top. “A seal fire is the most common event that most industrial or municipal firefighters will see involving a storage tank,” Hall added, highlighting the multi-scenario training options provided on Project 47.

Also returning this year are the large-volume pumping activities at ESTI Lake, and the crude oil boil over exercise.  Located across from the Emergency Operations Training Centers, Lake ESTI will be utilized for a full-sized demonstration of large-volume pump operations using WILLIAMS’ pumps and monitors.  “We call it big water logistics,” Hall said. “It’s not just flowing big water out of a gun but demonstrating how you set up to accomplish it.”

The boilover exercise features a scaled down storage tank the size of a pressure cooker, used to simulate the potentially catastrophic phenomenon unique to burning crude.

This phenomenon occurs when entrapped water settles to the bottom of a crude oil storage tank, creating a dangerous scenario should a fire break out.  A lengthy surface fire can create a thermal wave that slowly heats the oil from top to bottom. When the heat reaches the bottom, the water instantly turns to steam, which can potentially cause the burning contents of the tank to erupt. Video showing the 2018 Xtreme boilover demonstration can be found on Industrial Fire World’s YouTube channel.

Twenty-six years ago when the Williams team conducted the first Xtreme training at Brayton, the goal was to faithfully recreate what firefighters would experience in the real world.

“One of the few concessions the team must make is the use of training foam instead of genuine AR-AFFF,” Naylor said. “The issue with using our top shelf Thunderstorm foam concentrate on projects for a single demonstration is that the high-performance foam would prevent relighting the prop for at least an hour.” 

With training time at a premium, the Williams team aims to keep students moving through each exercise at a smooth pace.

To guarantee each student has an equal opportunity for field practice, the student body is divided into smaller groups. Over the course of two days, each prop will be demonstrated eight times with the firefighters rotating from one to the next. “The students will have plenty of time to actively experience each prop, ask questions, talk with the instructors as well as learn from one another,” Hall said. “It’s not a race. It’s about making sure they leave with an enhanced understanding.” 

While the school is developed to provide ample time for learning, “where students should rush is making their registrations,” Naylor said.  Attendance is restricted to only 150 students, and with less than three months left before the event, this year’s Xtreme training is filling up fast.  Challenge and enhance your industrial firefighting skills on today’s most relevant fire training scenarios.