New Year’s resolutions usually count for little because they are not kept. Let’s map some strategy to make 2015 different. Here are some fire resolutions that industrial emergency responders should take to heart.

Assure Risk Assessments and Emergency Response Plans are Current

Plants and refineries may seem permanent and resolute, but at ground level things constantly evolve. Older technologies are replaced by cutting edge, state-of-the-art systems designed to increase efficiency. Structures that no longer have a purpose are removed. New units that the original engineering could only dream of fill the few vacant spots left in the landscape.

Then why do we stay married to antique pre-planning. Most facilities cannot keep their phone lists current, let alone these vital documents. Knocking a hole through a firewall may seem like a small change, but it alters the dynamics of what responders may contend with big time. Blocked access and egress may radically change response time. Added risks may call for increased foam and equipment onsite. Training exercises must be tailored to the new situation.

Train Internal Personnel and External Collaborators to be Response Ready

Operating as a single fire fighting force requires training. At a moment’s notice, municipal and industrial responders must meld into an effective, organized team deployed against an emergency that would easily dwarf any single member. Bringing these responders together regularly to train makes these key players familiar with their colleagues’ abilities. It also fits those talents into an overall command structure so that any surprises on the fire ground are limited to the fire itself, not the personnel involved.

Build Supportive Relationships

Establishing a rapport in advance allows responders to concentrate on the emergency on hand rather than worry that orders may have been misunderstood or, worse, not carried out.

Take Good Care of Yourself

Thank God, fatalities among industrial firefighters remain a rare thing. Modern bunker gear has almost made burns a thing of the past in our field. On the other hand, heat stress from working in a head-to-toe thermos bottle has become more and more unavoidable. Firefighters need to be aware of the factors that contribute to heat stress and how to reduce them. Keep informed on current PPE issues. New test results from the National Institute of Standards and Technology confirms that portable radios used by firefighters can fail to operate properly within 15 minutes when exposed to temperatures that may be encountered during firefighting activities. How does this impact your communications during a major fire?

Keep On the Cutting Edge

Industrial Fire World invites you to participate and bring key responders to Industrial Fire World Emergency Responder Training & Exposition in Beaumont, TX, Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, 2015. Live-fire demonstrations, educational workshops and innovative exhibitors define what industrial and municipal responders experience when attending the IFW conference and exposition.

Workshops are designed to meet the information needs of industrial emergency response managers and personnel as well as the municipalities responding to industrial emergencies in their areas. “Municipal Responders Fighting Industrial Incidents” workshop delivers best practices for municipal firefighters responding to a fire or emergency at a plant, refinery, chemical or other industrial facility in their jurisdiction or mutual aid vicinity. Round table discussions allow industrial and municipal departments to exchange ideas and information to protect people and property in their communities. Plan to visit with me there!