With this issue, Industrial Fire World enters its fourth decade as the preeminent voice supporting those who protect our economy from havoc at the street level. We have been the first to introduce our readers to many agencies, organizations and products intended to control and contain the worst emergencies dubbed “man-made.”
IFW links industrial fire specialists with essential information available from no other readily available source. A lot of innovation has graced these pages since the mid-1980s. While the nation obsessed over floppy disks, Cabbage Patch Kids and DeLoreans complete with gull-winged doors, IFW focused on self-educting nozzles, large-diameter hose and aqueous film forming foam.
Those later items remain the backbone of industrial fire protection today. But innovation is not stagnant. In this issue you see some of the latest developments to deliver large volumes of foam and water when you need it, with the best practices being taught to prove the success and safety of the responders.
One factor that has persistently thwarted success is the water supply system. Plants are a combination of old and new construction. From assembly plants of all kinds to refineries, chemical plants, utility plants, lumber mills, even breweries, the common factor in all fire emergency success is having the volume of water when and where you need it.
And, yet, it is still common to read about mid-sized industrial facilities lost to the flames because of inadequate or altogether absent water supply. “Empty Tank or Loaded Gun?” on page 6 details an October 2015 tank battery fire in north Oklahoma. Two of the three closest fire hydrants to the burning battery turned out to be faulty. Firefighters were forced to resort to a water shuttle, using tank truck to keep the portable dump tanks full.
An article in the July-August 2003 issue of IFW detailed the destruction of a petroleum blending and packaging plant in Pearland, TX. A representative of the plant’s owners loudly questioned the fire chief’s judgement call to let the fire burn.
“He was yelling and screaming about why didn’t we go and put that fire out,” said the fire chief. “We told him we would be glad to if he could tell us where his water supply was so we could hook up.”
That water supply did not exist. Other than to protect the nearby homes and businesses there was little the firefighter could do. The destroyed plant was never rebuilt. A subsequent Chemical Safety Board report showed that there was no formal fire protection analysis conducted by the plant. No outside fire protection experts had ever been consulted before the fire.
Annual testing and inspections of fire water systems are not only good insurance but also can impact insurance risk rates. That is why Fire & Safety Specialists, Inc., has pulled together a team of experts to deliver reliable, functional fire water system testing and related services to strengthen your emergency response plans and effectiveness.
While change is constant some things remain the same. Know your risks, plan and train to use the best fire fighting tools available and test your equipment and fire protection systems to be sure they are ready when the worst thing happens.