Brown-Forman Corporation – one of the largest American-owned spirits and wine companies and among the top 10 largest global spirits companies – enlisted Telgian Corporation in 2008 to provide special industrial firefighting training for workers at a newly acquired 150-year-old tequila plant in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Telgian worked with Brown-Forman to restructure and train the Guadalajara industrial fire brigade to ensure the brigade members understood and were prepared to respond to the significant fire and safety risks present in a distilled spirits manufacturing facility. Telgian provided bilingual training and established procedures and strategies based on industry standard NFPA 600 for industrial fire brigades. Today, Telgian continues to support the fire brigade and has provided specialty training in emergency response.
Benefits of the consulting Telgian provides to BrownForman’s Guadalajara operations include:
● Increased awareness of the process hazards and inherent risks of distilled spirits manufacturing
● Clearly established responsibilities and response protocols
● Trained fire brigade prepared to respond to and contain fire events
● Minimized consequences of potentially catastrophic incidents that could result in loss of life or disruptions in production
● Ability to meet all applicable compliance requirements
● Reduced vulnerability
The risk and consequences of catastrophic fires in spirits distilling are well documented. One of the worst in the industry occurred in 1996, when a Heaven Hill production plant was almost completely destroyed by a fire that began in an aging warehouse and quickly spread.
In a deadly explosion at an illegal vodka distilling operation in Boston in 2011, five men died instantly after a huge explosion that threatened the lives of emergency workers and nearby residents.
The risks in the production of distilled spirits are ubiquitous. Process hazards include the presence of large quantities of flammable liquid spirits, combustible dust hazards, and risks associated with refrigerants such as ammonia. Telgian helps clients define and analyze these risks to ensure the safety of life, property and reputation.
Brown-Forman, one of the largest global spirits companies with a portfolio of more than 25 brands, embeds health and safety in the core values of the company. So when it acquired a 150-year-old tequila distillery located in Guadalajara, Mexico, upgrading the facility’s fire brigade was a high priority for the company.
The company reached out to Telgian, a worldwide provider of comprehensive fire, security, life safety consulting and engineering/design services that partners with clients to produce innovative solutions that reduce exposure to loss from fire and disasters. Due to the depth of its relevant expertise in this area, Telgian was hired to discuss the scope of a potential project with Brown-Forman.
Over the next year, the Telgian team – which included bilingual firefighters – provided specialized firefighter training to the Guadalajara tequila operation. From reinforcing the basic firefighting skills to tactics for working with high-alcohol substances, including the use of foam applications, Telgian provided training for the employees in the skills necessary to become an effective industrial fire brigade for the distillery.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the authority in North America on fire, electrical and building safety. A Telgian executive sits on the committee for NFPA 600: Standard on Industrial Fire Brigades, where he has helped set the standard for organizing, operating, training and equipping industrial fire brigades since 1980.
Telgian not only brought this industry expertise and customerfocused solutions to the job, but also helped the distillery identify candidates for its new fire chief position. Telgian continues to be involved in the ongoing training of the fire brigade and travels to the distillery several times a year to personally manage its ongoing consulting services.
The effective fire safety training Telgian provided led BrownForman to analyze other areas where Telgian expertise could benefit the operation’s fire safety program. Thus, Telgian has increasingly supported Brown-Forman’s Guadalajara operations, providing not only firefighting training but also training in emergency management, establishing incident command and control systems, and more.
This comprehensive training even includes no-notice exercises to test and validate the site’s ability to respond to and recover from a major fire emergency. Following each exercise, Telgian debriefs with the industrial fire brigade and facility executives to address any inconsistencies or issues to help ensure BrownForman is equipped to be successful in containing an industrial fire or explosion.