COLLEGE STATION — The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) wants to help ensure firefighters in all departments in the State of Texas have training in effective and appropriate responses to industrial emergencies — training that could save their lives.
The state’s fire training agency has developed a new course to train firefighters to handle industrial and other non-traditional emergencies in the wake of the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX. The explosion killed 15 people including 12 first responders on the scene.
Recently TEEX began offering training in “Industrial Emergencies for Municipal-Based Responders” (IEMBR), which is taught in two separate 16-hour sessions or phases. The 2014 Annual Spring Fire School, which was held on March 3-7, was the initial delivery of the new course.
“Our goal is to train municipal-based responders to recognize hazards and hazardous materials related to industrial events in order to size up the incident, determine needed resources to combat an incident, and to implement appropriate strategies and tactics to safely mitigate the emergency,” said Gordon Lohmeyer, Associate Director of the TEEX Emergency Services Training Institute.
Phase 1 is an awareness-level course offered statewide through the TEEX Fire Extension Training program at no cost to qualified personnel. Responders learn about the incident command system (ICS), industrial emergencies and hazards, standard operation procedures and preplanning. Other topics covered in Phase 1 are situational awareness and risk management, communication techniques, mutual aid agreements and response plans, Lohmeyer said.
Phase 2 will delve into strategy and tactics, and include hands-on training and exercises in industrial emergencies. Firefighters will learn about water supplies, foam calculations and application rates, as well as vapor dispersion and containment techniques, he added. This second phase will be fee-based and conducted at Brayton Fire Training Field or another approved training facility.
“This training will better equip our response community to handle those non-traditional emergencies; those non-structural fires,” Lohmeyer added. “It will be a valuable tool to help responders focus on new kinds of hazards as more and more industrial, oil & gas, and chemical facilities are constructed in small towns or rural areas of the state.”
TEEX is also partnering with the State Fire Marshal’s Office to help educate responders how to safely handle ammonium nitrate. Representatives from TEEX have joined the State Fire Marshal’s Office in visits to more than 40 communities to meet with firefighters, city officials and other stakeholders concerned about potential industrial hazards.
“The meetings and training provides a tremendous opportunity for the response community to obtain new knowledge that will help them keep their community safe,” Lohmeyer said.
NOTE: Both phases of the course will be offered back-to-back on July 21-24 during the annual Municipal Fire Training School at Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station.