IFSS Expo – where industrial response leaders meet

Published:  11 April, 2008

Held in the hub of the oil industry, Houston Texas,  the third annual Industrial Fire Safety and Security Expo (5-8 February) is quickly turning into the main US industrial emergency response event, writes Ann-Marie Knegt.

With four days of seminars, workshops and training sessions, the programme of the Industrial Fire Safety and Security Exhibition offered a wealth of information and training opportunities for America’s fire safety managers, most of whom rigorously attended every session on the schedule.

Top training instructors and experts from all over the United States delivered seminars and workshops at this show, including  Kent Gardner, HazMat specialist from TEEX – who led a workshop called Certified fire protection specialist primer course, in which participants were taught how to navigate through the NFPA Fire Protection handbook.

CMDR. LT Joseph Leonard JR, Chief of the response department of the US Coastguard organised the Texas Medical Centre campus wide disaster drill, and there were many other workshops specifically designed for the industrial emergency responder.

 BP’s Brad Byczynski, Director Crisis Management of the Naperville Crisis Centre, presented Comprehensive emergency response and preparedness: pillars of a strong emergency response programme, which was particularly well attended.  Brad provided attendees with key components of an emergency response and preparedness plan.

He explained that BP organised its emergency response structure according to the BP Three Tier Crisis Management Model, in which the organisation is divided into three groups ie the incident management team, business support, and the group crisis team. All three parties have their own area of responsibility with some overlap.

Brad outlined that the group crisis team needs to assess which available capabilities it has, and then compare that with a well executed risk assessment in which all possible hazards are included.

He pointed out that it is very important to vet tactical resources outside the facility, such as industrial mutual aid, municipal agencies, military and private.

“What can they really do, versus what do they really need? Find out what outside agencies can do for you. Vet your mutual aid because it will affect how you build the emergency response plans,” he said.

For the incident management team, responsibilities lie on a different level. Its job is to deliver tactical support and manage the peripheral issues that are caused by the incident, such as dealing with the media, human resources, legal issues, dealing with government and internal issues.

Brad revealed a detailed approach on how to set up comprehensive emergency response and planning. He called for better preparedness by carrying out internal research on how emergency response teams are viewed within the organisation. The emergency response plan must include:

• all about risks and hazards
• risk based written plans
• training
• exercise
• review and revise

Brad also focussed on the internal structure of the emergency response team, offering advice on how to increase knowledge and preparedness. “Roll in normal day-to-day functions with emergency management teams. New engineers should follow emergency response classes in order to change the organisational philosophy and increase awareness.”

Training and exercises are an important aspect of increasing preparedness, and skilled response teams should be set up based on risk assessment and tactical capabilities analysis.
“The team manager should develop ongoing fit-for-purpose training in which competencies are constantly evolving.”

In conclusion, the fire safety manager needs to review; all legal requirements; experience gained in exercises and drills; information from real events; and information gained from audits. All this information should provide a valuable basis for a strong and comprehensive emergency response programme.

The exhibition
Alongside the versatile and challenging seminars the exhibition attracted fire safety professionals from all over the US.

Outside the hall, IFJ met Jeff Clifton from FD Training Systems. Jeff is the inventor of a pump testing and training system which is truly unique and offers a solution to a problem faced by many departments. Recently, he even delivered a unit to the BP Sangachal Terminal in Azerbaijan.

The Fire Engineering Training Simulator has the capacity for a flow of 140,000 gallons of water a day at 850 gpm – for training purposes only. The system enables four lines of attack without anyone having to man a fire hose. It also allows the instructor to simulate a catastrophic failure at the pump panel without endangering students. And most of all it makes all of this possible without wasting a single drop of water.

“The simulator captures all the water used for training and then recycles it,” explains Jeff. The water is discharged out of the apparatus pump into the machine and then sends it back to the suction side of the pump. Four fifty-foot sections of hose form the discharge of the apparatus from four different discharges to the inside of the simulator, which is computer controlled.
“I am able to tell the computer that each discharge has a different length of hose anywhere from 150 ft to 300 ft. When the team of engineers operates the fire truck, they have to pump the correct pressure to compensate for friction loss for various lengths of hose. We have set the simulator up with either fog nozzles or sprinkler nozzles depending on what the department wants, and all data about flow and pressure is captured,” explained Jeff.
The unit can be connected to the pump on the fire truck, so the firefighters are able to train on the apparatus that will be used in real situations. In addition, the unit is completely portable, so it can be used anywhere.

Inside part of the exhibition hall a wealth of training schools were on show. Main sponsor of the event TEEX even had three separate stands presenting different aspects of its capabilities. Other training schools at the event were Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex, The Refinery Terminal Fire Company, Fire Science Academy Reno Nevada and Rocco Rescue.
Publisher IFSTA, which is attached to the University of Oklahoma, was also present at the exhibition with the fifth updated version of the must-have Essentials of Firefighting – now even more user friendly than before.

Another interesting exhibitor was Cochran Fire and Security/Fire Blockade, which was exhibiting its range of thermal imaging cameras for search and rescue operations, which have been used by the Navy Seals for years.

On the exhibition floor a variety of events were organised such as “PPE products on parade”. Several “ask the expert” sessions – in which visitors could directly approach top professionals – were held at the exhibition stage. However, what made this conference and exhibition the greatest success was the laid back Texan atmosphere, which created an easygoing climate for getting to know the latest products and services for industrial response. Most people at the show agreed that the IFSS was definitely becoming one of the must-attend events for industrial responders in the US.

  • Operation Florian

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