Most fire fighting exercises are simulated events without fire but today’s fight against a burning oil tank was a first for
Risk & Competence
Major Ali Juma Al Rashdi, Manager of Operations at the Civil Defence, said that today’s demonstration was about generating awareness in Fujairah about the risks of the growing petro-chemical industry in the emirate but more importantly it was to show that the fire brigades and emergency services were capable and equal to the task.
Mr. Nabeel Ali, Chief Fire and Safety Compliance Officer for the ENOC Corporation said that while this was a Civil Defence drill there were many other groups giving support. Each of the Fujairah-based oil companies had three to five of their fire safety officers participating in this morning’s exercise.
On the Beach
The exercise took place on the raised sandy platform south of Fujairah’s
A 7.5 metre high tank with a 5 metre diameter was filled with 80,000 litres of heavy oil and another 30,000 litres were poured outside the tank within a raised band. While the practice tank was not the size of the oil bunkers emerging beyond the port, this fire gave a good idea of how well local fire fighters and Civil Defence personnel could apply their skills to extinguishing the flames.
A ‘Who’s Who’ from the Fujairah Police, the Civil Defence, the Fujairah Municipality and the city’s oil industry rolled up to a tent adjacent to the oil tank. In the shade, sitting in armchairs while sipping fruit juice they prepared to watch the firefighters do battle in the scorching heat.
Shortly after the arrival of His Highness, Sheikh Saleh Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Chairman, Department of Industry and Economy, the tank was ignited.
Spectacular and Toxic
Immediately the dark, toxic clouds bellowed up from the tank and blew towards the port. The soaring flames were aggressive and spectacular. Minutes after ignition, the sirens of the fire engines could be heard and in no time the regular appliances, as well as some engines with telescopic fire booms, were on the site.
'If You Can’t Stand the Heat'
One of the challenges of the exercise was to measure the intensity of the heat at various distances from the raging fire and to evaluate the capacity of the firefighters to withstand this heat and over what period of time. Wearing the fire protection suits in 44 degree heat is a stress for the body let alone doing vigorous exercise around the blazing fire.
The UAE fire brigades are most familiar with civil fires but they have little real experience of industrial fires, hence the value of a fire drill with an oil fire.
Mr. Nabeel Ali said that measuring the ability of the firefighters to put out the fire would be obvious during the estimated 30 minute exercise but a thorough evaluation by the key players in the next few days will be helpful for learning how the exercise went and determining how systems can be improved.
The firefighters used foam to put the fire out in 15 to 20 minutes and they did this with apparent ease. Mr. Nabeel Ali said, “Mafi Mushkila (No problems). I am pleased that the team did such a competent job.”
Mabrook! Congratulations to the entire team for undertaking an historic first training drill and executing it in extreme heat.
Take a Look
Some photos from the firefighting exercise are posted in this photo album.
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