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Imperial firefighters help train colleagues from across North America

Staying hydrated and safe in 37-degree C heat is always a concern, but it’s even more so when you are responsible for the radiant heat of an industrial training fire and the 260 firefighters sweltering nearby in full protective gear.

This was just one of the details that required meticulous planning and crisp execution to ensure the highest safety and learning expectations were met at an annual fire school for personnel from roughly 17 North American ExxonMobil facilities, including refineries and chemical plants.

In June 2015, firefighters from Imperial’s Sarnia Manufacturing Site became the first team from Imperial to lead the event held at the world-renowned Texas A&M fire school in College Station, Texas. Sarnia personnel left a lasting impression on their colleagues from across the continent by reinforcing the Loss Prevention System (LPS) throughout all aspects of the training.

The standardized safety program utilized by ExxonMobil and Imperial includes processes and templates to analyze before, during or after a task, so hazards can be identified and mitigated. Imperial uses LPS across all of its operations, including office settings. Every company employee and contractor is trained in its use.

“We began every fire school class and every field scenario with a safety talk,” said Jim Belrose, fire marshal at Imperial Sarnia. “Safety officers outlined the hazards associated with every task. As one example, they provided a characterization of each scenario’s particular kind of fire. An interior engine room fire is much hotter than an external fire, so we would talk about that before training began and everyone would know what to expect.”

Belrose led the Imperial contingent of 18 personnel in the planning, teaching and delivery of the fire school’s rescue and field drills, courses about incident command and hazardous materials, as well as specific sessions for company safety officers and medical personnel.

“From the standpoint of managing all the logistics and supplies for a training school in Texas, it was a significant effort for our site - but we did so successfully and safely, right down to providing the popsicles,” said Belrose.

The fire crew at Imperial’s Sarnia Manufacturing Site is part of the Sarnia region’s mutual aid group known as the Chemical Valley Emergency Co-ordinating Organization (CVECO). Lessons learned in Texas are shared by Imperial with its CVECO partners.

Sarnia Refinery Manager Brian Fairley attended a portion of the Texas A&M training school to observe the Sarnia team as it coached and mentored experts from across the continent.

“Our personnel continually work to improve their skills,” said Fairley. “Through our relationship with ExxonMobil, Imperial in Sarnia has access to world class training and world class firefighters - and we share these resources with the community through CVECO.”