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The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), a member of The Texas A&M University System, has successfully run its first enhanced training program for international firefighters to learn about fighting liquefied natural gas (LNG) fires.

The three-and-a-half-day program and facilities are sponsored by BP, one of the world’s largest natural gas companies, with LNG a growing part of its business. The emphasis of the course is on both academic study and hands-on, practical training for all students.

Firefighters attending the first course, held Oct. 10-13, came from countries including the United States, Trinidad and Tobago and Spain.

“We are delighted to link up with Texas A&M in this way,” said Nigel Preece, head of BP’s North American LNG business unit. “The LNG industry focuses on safety in many ways — primarily through prevention and mitigation. As a result, it has built up an excellent safety record over many years all around the world. Nevertheless, we believe it is vital we help train not only our own firefighters, but also local emergency responders in the communities where BP has operations or anticipates building them — part of our commitment to ‘go beyond.’

“Firefighters train to deal with fires involving various materials — from gasoline to different chemicals. Through this program they will learn about the properties of LNG and how it burns. As a result we will help increase safety even further in the communities where we are present.”

The training program is aimed at front-line emergency fire supervisors and responders, LNG project coordinators and facility managers who may be faced with an escape of LNG vapor or liquid, even though the chance of such an occurrence is very low.

The TEEX fire training facilities are world-renowned, and the agency trains firefighters from all over the United States and more than 40 countries each year. For more than 20 years, TEEX has run a smaller scale course on LNG.

“We were delighted when BP approached the school to host their program,” said Chief Les Bunte, director of TEEX’s Emergency Services Training Institute. “They recognized our reputation, expertise and teaching skills. BP has not only funded the construction of specialized facilities but also attracted many leading manufacturers of firefighting equipment who have incorporated their products as part of the new facility.

“As a result, as well as training firefighters, the program will provide an important research opportunity to deepen knowledge around LNG, test firefighting equipment, state of the art flame and gas detection, passive fire protection as well as improve the firefighting techniques we teach even further.”

LNG is set to play an increasing role in helping to meet the United States’ growing demand for clean-burning natural gas.

In addition to importing LNG into existing receiving terminals in the United States, BP is proposing to build its own import facilities in New Jersey and Texas. The company has interests in export operations around the globe and is the world’s second largest non-state supplier of natural gas to liquefaction plants, in addition to operating its own fleet of LNG vessels.

TEEX, a member of The Texas A&M University System, offers hands-on, customized training, exercises, technical assistance and technology transfer services impacting Texas and beyond. TEEX programs include fire, homeland security, law enforcement, public works, safety and health, search and rescue and technology transfer.

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…an outstanding training experience. The instructors were great and the facility is world-class…These exercises provided a sense of realism and intensity as if they were unfolding right on the streets before us.

— Capt. Joseph Czentnar, Client, Wallingford (CT) Fire Department
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