John Burge, private sector program director at Brayton, said TEEX works hard to market the summer month classes and the Annual School Programs to spread the class workload evenly through the year.
“Classes conducted in the fall and the spring are attractive to many of our customers due to the mild temperatures,” Burge said. “We have classes scheduled as many as 10 years in the future. Brayton Fire Training Field has become a very strategic location for many companies and individuals.”
One corporate fire school taking advantage of the fall months was PBF Energy. In November, the company brought responders from its refineries in Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio, Louisiana and California. In addition, many refineries and fire departments included in PBF Energy’s network of mutual aid responders attended the four-day school.
“It’s always exciting to get around these customers because a lot of them are brand new,” Burge said. “They’re seeing new things; experiencing what an actual emergency would look like. It’s fun for the instructors and fun for the students.”
World-renowned Brayton Fire Training Field (BFTF) located in College Station, Texas has been in business since 1929; training first responders from around the world. House Bill 921 (HB921) authorized the creation of the school for the purpose of saving property and lives.
The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) hosts training classes year round, but is probably best known for its Annual Training Schools held every July. This year marked the 50thAnnual Spanish School, 54th Annual Industrial School and the 87th Annual Municipal School.
These schools not only attract a lot of attention during the summer months to the Bryan/College Station area, but provide a significant economic boom for the area considering the 5,000 plus attendees and guest instructors who attend training during these three weeks.
Most people do not realize the Brayton Fire Training Field is in operation year round. In FY16, Brayton Fire Training Field operations accounted for the education of 100,418 first responders including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Corporative Agreement participants.
Brayton Fire Training Field is no stranger to big corporate fire schools. Shell typically brings more than 200 responders and ExxonMobil averages nearly 300, Burge said. But PBF Energy, with only five refineries, is not far behind, bringing over 160 responders for its fall 2016 fire school.
“PBF Energy is not the largest customer we serve, but they are growing,” Burge said. “Their fall ’16 school was twice the size of their 2015 school.”
PBF Energy needs reflect the training schedule of a majority of visitors to Brayton in that they concentrate heavily on live-burn training as opposed to classroom time. Brayton Fire Training Field prides itself in providing flexible scheduling and a multitude of training props to ensure the customers’ needs are accomplished.
“Probably 65-to-70 percent of the groups have the desire to focus on customized LPG and Flammable Liquid firefighting,” Burge said. “After a few trips down here, they get the basics down, like NFPA 1081 or 1041 and they can focus on more advanced skill sets or Leadership Training. This year we’ve been pretty heavy on fire field activities.”
This percentage is subject to natural ebb and flow depending upon customer needs, he said.
“Companies are always hiring new employees, so they need initial or baseline training, plus reoccurring training” Burge said. “The whole thing is about building a toolbox of competencies to be ready for any emergency.”
One of the biggest additions to Brayton’s 2017 fire training schedule is Tyco Williams Fire & Hazard Control’s 24th annual Xtreme Industrial Fire & Hazard Training June 4 through 8. In preparation for fire foam training school, Brayton is putting the final touches to a 45-foot diameter storage tank that will be used in live-fire training exercises.
“It will be the largest training prop of its kind in North America,” Burge said. “The majority of our customers including refineries, chemical companies and pipeline companies have tank farms to protect. It’s a good thing for them to get in some practice prior to being faced with the real thing.”