Certification-based tank fire training course at TEEX

Published:  11 June, 2009

Emergencies dealing with tank fires are a stressful time for everyone involved, including the owner of the facility and surrounding communities. Although this is an infrequent occurrence for most fire chiefs, just one event is enough to leave a lasting impression, writes Gordon Lohmeyer, Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Private Sector Program Director.


Some of the things that run through your mind as you are in route to such an emergency are:    

   • Did everyone get out of the area safely?

• Has the brigade started taking offensive/defensive action?

• Has the brigades training been enough to help them face the situation safely and effectively?

As tank firefighting has evolved, so have views associated with certification-based training. Fire brigades over the past several years have began to seek out quantifying tools to measure their training through exercises based upon job performance requirements and national performance standards, as those found with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 

Certification of fire brigade members in the United States is a relatively new concept; but one that is gaining popularity. It is important to note that this new trend is strictly voluntary on the part of industry in that there is no legislative or regulatory mandate to require fire brigade certification.  At the heart of the trend is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 472 Standard Annex E – Competencies for Technicians with a Flammable Liquids Bulk Storage Specialty. 

The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), located in College Station, Texas, is on the forefront of this need and has responded by developing and offering a certification through the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications, more commonly known as ProBoard. In May of 2008, TEEX certified the first group of emergency responders in accordance with the NFPA 472, Annex B – Competencies for Technicians with a Flammable Liquids Bulk Storage Specialty. The TEEX curriculum has since been revised earlier this year to meet the requirements of NFPA 472, 2008 edition annex E.  

It is important that those who may be involved in tank firefighting are skilled in several areas to ensure their safety and to minimize damage to the surrounding community and involved facility. The TEEX Flammable Liquids Bulk Storage Specialty course focuses on several key areas, including: 

• Firefighter Safety

• Preplanning 

• Tank and Product Identification 

• Water needs and delivery devices

• Foam types and calculations 

• Storage tank strategy and tactics 

• Suppression methods and systems 

• Spill Confinement Measures

• Bulk Liquid Transfer

• Bonding and Grounding Measures

• Tank Spacing 

• Fire Proofing

• Fire Behavior 

• Incident Management

• Special Hazards 

    (• Boilover  • Slopover  • Frothover)

Other regulations and standards that can be an excellent guide to preparing for such an event include: 29CFR1910.156, NFPA 472, 600, and 1081. It is ultimately your decision whether to choose certification or non-certification based training. You are obligated to ensure that all personnel who are expected to respond to specific emergencies must be training prior to making the response.  

It is everyone’s job to ensure firefighters are kept safe above all else.


  • Operation Florian

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