Remembering the West, TX Fertilizer Explosion

Remembering the West, TX Fertilizer Explosion

Last Friday marked the two year anniversary of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that killed ten firefighters and three EMS responders. I had the opportunity today to sit in on a panel discussion of the events that lead up to that tragedy and the valuable lessons for first responders to learn from it.

The major take away from the discussion was to know and understand the hazards of occupancies within your response area. Once those hazards are identified, train on the available response options. South Carolina in general is a very chemical friendly state with more than 3500 facility with large quantities of hazardous materials. Ammonium Nitrate, the primary product causing the fatal explosion in West, is present in nearly 30 communities across the state. Are you prepared? 

If you need help identifying chemical hazards in your response area, E-Plan is available to all first responders and emergency planners in South Carolina. E-Plan is a proven system that provides First Responder and others with on-site hazardous chemical information for facilities around the. It utilizes emergency contact and hazardous material information submitted under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and sends it via the Internet to First Responders just when they need it the most.

E-Plan provides Tier II reporting data and other important information instantly such as 

  1. Maps of the area surrounding a fixed facility showing schools and hospitals,
  2. Maps of all facilities with a specified hazardous material in specific area,
  3. Chemical Hazards Response Information System (CHRIS) data,
  4. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS),
  5. Chemical profiles,
  6. Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) pages,
  7. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes,
  8. Facility Risk Management Plans (RMPs)

If you do not currently have access to this valuable tool, visit erplan.net and register for a free account. The information found in this database can be easily integrated into annual occupancy inspection and prefire plan programs. 

The attached video was put together by the South Carolina Firefighters’ Association and the SC Firefighter Mobilization program to address the specific concerns with ammonium nitrate. Both groups are committed to improving hazardous materials response and training through the efforts of the Hazardous Materials Working Group (SCHMWG). The HMWG is a group of individuls and agencies from across South Carolina who have a vested interest in improving our capability and safety when responding to hazardous materials and terrorist events. If you have an interest in being a part of this group, you can contact Chairman David Greene at [email protected]. The next meeting of the SCHMWG will be on June 11th at 12:00 as part of the Fire-Rescue Conference in Myrtle Beach. 

Take a moment to share this video and not let the lives of those dedicated volunteers be in vain. 

Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office LODD Report – http://www.tdi.texas.gov/reports/fire/documents/fmloddwest.pdf

Check out this video on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/Tc_8Mcqta7w

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