Oil giants merge continuing efforts to keep firefighters ready for action BP’s semi-annual corporate fire school at Brayton Fire Training Field in Texas is steadily growing into a collaborative effort with Marathon Oil, a BP spokesman said. Half the students attending the school in April 2016 work for Marathon.

Brad Byczynski, BP’s global response manager, attributes the joint operation to the “BP-Amoco-Arco heritage” of maintaining a strong fire training program.

“It makes sense to continue to collaborate,” Byczynski said. “Marathon certainly believes in the training package that BP has put together.”

Mark Garvin, fire chief with Marathon’s Galveston Bay refinery, said other Marathon emergency response teams showed immediate curiosity about the BP fire training after the Galveston Bay facility was acquired by Marathon in 2013.

“It’s a fairly well established curriculum but I still have input into it,” Garvin said.

The Galveston Bay facility has participated in previous BP corporate schools, he said. Twenty members of the Galveston Bay ERT are on hand for the latest BP school at Brayton.

“The majority of these guys are new firefighters, so this is quite an experience for them,” Garvin said.

Byczynski said the size of the April school is significantly impacted by spring turnarounds at BP facilities. Cost pressure throughout the oil industry is another factor.

“It puts people in the position of not necessarily eliminating training, but certainly deferring it,” Byczynski said. “It is still an essential part of doing business.”

The April class was entirely domestic with no overseas students, he said. However, participation was extended to several municipal fire departments with BP facilities in their jurisdiction.

Curriculum for the April school consisted of a benchmark of the BP fire training program – “Mass Exterior I.” Byczynski described it as fundamental fire fighting based on the NFPA 1081 standards for industrial fire brigade professional qualifications.

“We make sure to stay in stride with technical innovations,” he said. “But the underlying principles, the basic methodology in terms of response, haven’t changed, be it hose handling, fire chemistry or using fixed or portable master streams.”

The BP-Amoco-Arco relationship with Brayton stretches back to the early 1970s. In 2006, BP donated a $500,000 state-of-the-art liquefied natural gas training project to Brayton. However, BP has conducted fire training schools in Malaysia and Australia and is pursuing training opportunities in Europe, Byczynski said.

“Obviously, the challenge is delivering the BP program to international students,” he said. “While we appreciate the size and scale of what can be done here, getting them all the way to Texas A&M is a pretty heavy lift.”

At Brayton, the climax of the April school was a night burn involving three different projects – the pipe rack, process unit and pipe alley. At least two of the three projects burned simultaneously during the exercise. See the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8gfQ39ywDs.

Still, Byczynski said the triple play scenario was pretty standard for a BP fire school.

“There’s probably nothing really dramatic about it for us.”