Brigades Need Training For Storm Emergencies

Brigades Need Training For Storm Emergencies

Industrial Fire Safety

A plant fire brigade or emergency organization is usually trained solely for fire protection. It should be remembered, however, that situations other than fires call for the use of brigade members and their special training.

In addition to fire duties, brigades should be trained in ways of preventing damage by windstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes and how to salvage property damaged by these storms. The training should be based on past storms in your area and what they indicate you should prepare for in the future. In training brigades, liaison with maintenance and other plant personnel should be stressed because a unified effort by all employees is vital during a natural disaster, especially in these days of high deductibles and selfinsurance.

The safeguards, precautions and personnel actions we will describe are divided into three time elements, before, during and after a storm.

Prior to the storm: We hope that all buildings in high windstorm hazard areas have been constructed to withstand the expected wind velocities. There must be adequate roof anchorage to prevent uplift damage and roof covering should be properly installed to prevent the loss of both the roof covering and insulation.

You should tour your entire plant site, going through all the buildings, at various times during the year to determine the areas subject to flooding. Plans should be made to channel or dike wind-driven water away from buildings. This applies especially to boiler rooms, power stations, fire pump houses, transformer installations and flammable tank areas, both below and above ground.

Through normal weekly inspections, or daily during times of immediate danger, special items must be checked, provided, repaired, tied down, or structurally reinforced to prevent damage. These include: (1) roof signs, ducts, houses, collectors, conveyors, etc.; (2) building wall openings, doors, windows, vents; (3) outside yard storage of raw or finished goods; (4) auxiliary power supplies; (5) portable lights or lanterns; and (6) adequate supplies of tar paper, plastic rolls, tarpaulins, plywood panels, mops, brooms, squeegees, absorbent materials and, in some cases, sandbags for diking or building security and ballast.

Controlling the entry or flow of water and salvage cannot be overemphasized. We refer you to our article of January 1968, entitled, “Salvage Training Needed to Reduce Plant Losses,” for more details.

In addition, all fire mains, water supplies, control valves and fire protection equipment must be kept in operating condition, and the fire brigade should be in complete control of these facilities. In an emergency, your private source of water may be your only source!

As communications both inside and outside the premises will be vital, lines of contact must be planned and kept open at all times. In areas with a windstorm history, portable radio equipment kept on the site is a good investment. All communications should be controlled at an emergency center staffed around the clock.

During the emergency: Continuously tour your buildings, keeping in continuous contact, by telephone, other voice systems or radio, with the emergency control center. If any damage is seen, call repair or salvage crews to prevent further damage and salvage what has been damaged. Be prepared to control automatic sprinkler systems by their control valves, as there is a possibility of damaged or split lines. In all cases, standby personnel is required in any area deprived of automatic fire protection.

If a fire occurs, personnel on the site must be prepared to fight the fire with the equipment on hand. Municipal fire forces may not be able to get to your location because of blocked or flooded roads, so plan to survive alone!

After the storm: Salvage must continue after the storm. Motors and other electrical equipment should be dried promptly and in most cases, machinery must be wiped and oiled to prevent rust and corrosion. Check all yard mains, hydrants, hose houses and other equipment. Immediately repair or replace any missing or damaged equipment. Test fire pumps and, at the same time, watch for water distribution system leaks that will have to be repaired.

There also may be flammable liquids, toxic gases or chemicals on your premises and you will have to check the integrity of the containers, whatever they may be.

Losses during and after windstorms have been tremendous, often because of poor preparation, so plan to protect life and property from needless waste.

Our suggestions are probably only a few of those that could apply to your plant, depending upon your geographic location, so contact your local civil defense or disaster unit and your insurance carrier for more explicit information.

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