The phone rings at 0730 AM at Longview Fire's Headquarters Station. On the other end a member of EGT Grain Terminal advising the Fire Department that they would be conducting a "Permitted" Confined Space Entry to perform electrical operations at their state-of-the-art facility located in Longview's deepwater port.
Conducting confined space entry is highly regulated work designed to safeguard workers from the potential hazards faced in confined spaces. The definition of a confined space is a space that has limited or restricted means of entry or exit, is large enough for a person to enter and perform tasks, is not designed for continuous occupancy, and has the potential for a significant hazard to be present. The hazards may include oxygen deficient, toxic, or explosive atmospheres, fall hazards, flooding or liquid hazards, and the risk of entrapment. In Longview alone confined space entries which require a permit occur between 5 and 50 times per-day within the heavy Industrial zone and shipping port.
To prepare for these confined space hazards and the potential emergency response, industry is required to establish contractual agreements with regional confined space teams. Within the City of Longview and its contracted port service area Longview Fire is the Confined Space Rescue Team, responding from its headquarters station located 740 Commerce Way.
The cliché that "We need to train like our life depends on, because it does" couldn't be more true as statistics indicate that injuries and fatalities involving confined spaces are frequent and often involve successive fatalities when would-be rescuers or untrained rescuers succumb to the same problem as the initial victim. Approximately 60% of fatalities involving confined spaces are attributed to would-be or untrained rescuers.
Longview Fire's Confined Space Rescue Team is made up with a total of 27 members trained to the level of Confined Space Rescue Technicians. To keep the teams skills at an optimum level hands-on training in realistic settings proves to be invaluable and is a regular component of annual training.
On May 14th, 15th, and 16th Longview Fire's Confined Space Rescue Team partnered with Puget Sound Energy [PSE] at its Mint Farm Generating Station located at 1200 Prudential Blvd. The 310 megawatt capable power-plant proved the perfect training ground both for Longview Fire's Confined Space program as well as the 17 on-duty on-site employees from Puget Sound Energy.
In the three day period three separate and complex training exercises took place simulating workers trapped and or injured in confined space situations. The generating station's 80' tall gas turbine inlet plenum and 60' tall steam turbine building provided many realistic rescue challenges for workers and rescuers alike. "The facility provided vertical caged access ladders, catwalks, electrical hazards, fall hazards, industrial noises, tight spaces, unfamiliar environments, and points difficult to access," explained Blake Tomlinson, Longview Fire's Confine Space program manager.
Victims suffering injuries, atmospheric compromise, on-site hazards, and complicated access and victim removal put the Confined Space Rescue Teams to the task. "The success of this training can be measured by the camaraderie and team effort put forth by both Fire and PSE personnel...the groups worked together seamlessly for one common goal; saving lives," shared Robert Mash, Supervisor for PSE. "I'm very proud of our PSE team, every on-site PSE member participated in one way or another, from the plant manager to the newest employee."
Hands-on drills are made to challenge the rescuers, test their skills, and ultimately provide a learning environment to help better prepare for potential events. Confined space rescues are classified as low frequency high hazard occurrences, which make preparation and training paramount. "The last thing we want to do is add to the problem, or become a statistic because we weren't prepared," say Tomlinson. "The PSE facility offered realistic training everyone involved, and with training like this it's easy to say our Confined Space teams are better prepared for tomorrow".
"In the end we are very pleased to have been able to assist with this training", explains Marsh. "We've been able to review and refine our own emergency operating procedures, identify areas for improvement, and build relationships with our first responders."
At 10:11 AM on Sunday May 12th Longview Fire was dispatched to a motor vehicle crash reported at 100 Triangle Center. Reports indicated that a vehicle had crashed into the Cigar 4 U, a business located in the Triangle Shopping Mall.
Within minutes Longview Firefighters arrived and found the vehicle no longer in contact with the building...it had been backed away from the building after impact. The vehicle sustained heavy front end damage and two victims were still inside the 4 door compact car requiring medical treatment. The victims were both adults, one male and one female.
Two ambulances were requested to transport both victims, who were transported to St Johns Medical Center in stable condition.
On scene Firefighters also evaluated the structural stability of the strip mall type building and found no obvious signs of structural deficiencies. Firefighters also addressed fluids leaking from the vehicle onto the parking lot with specialty spill specific absorbent.
The crash is being investigated by Longview Police Department. There were no injuries to patrons in Cigars 4 U which was open at the time of the incident.
*Coincidently, at 1:36 PM Longview Fire was dispatched across the street from the Triangle Shopping Center to 1210 Ocean Beach Highway where an adult female crashed into another vehicle in the parking lot of the Masthead Restaurant. The victim was also transported to St Johns Medical Center in stable condition. Longview Police is also investigating this accident.
On Friday, May 10, 2013, Longview Fire conducted a training fire at an acquired residential building located at 201 Fishers Lane, in Longview. The purpose of this exercise was to provide Hands on Training (HOT) in the most realistic realm possible; a burning building.
Although small in size, the wood framed residential home allowed firefighters to train on hose deployment, pump operations, ladder use, ventilation, fire attack, and the use of rapid intervention teams (RIT). Firefighters also reinforced skills including incident command, passport accountability, radio communication, fire behavior, and risk management.
When conducting a live fire training exercise safety is the highest priority and firefighters used NFPA 1403 as the standard operational guideline. To comply with the standard firefighters operated off two independent water supplies and two dedicated pump capable fire engines. Firefighters rotated through and staffed the positions of attack team, back-up team, RIT team, rehabilitation team, Safety Officer, and an Incident Commander to manage the interior fire attack exercises. In total 16 firefighters were utilized to meet the minimum standards for safety.
Today's exercise provided approximately 6 hours of authentic live fire training, giving firefighters an opportunity to hone their skills to meet the challenges they face daily. Weeks prior to today's training firefighters utilized the building for forcible entry, search and rescue, and ventilation drills, and also conducted fire investigation training with small intentionally set fires.
There were no injuries and no exposure fires or smoke related problems associated with today's burn.
On Friday, May 10, 2013, Longview Fire will be conducting a training fire at 201 Fishers Lane. The fire will occur in a small wood framed single family dwelling located next to the old water treatment plant. The purpose of this exercise will be to train and evaluate firefighters and fire officers in a realistic environment utilizing live fire which provides the most authentic training available.
For a building deemed suitable for life fire training all environmentally harmful products such as asbestos have been removed in accordance with the City of Longview and Southwest Clean Air Agency requirements. The live fire training excersize will follow NFPA 1403, Standards for Live Fire Training.
You can expect the following on Friday, May 10, 2013:
* Fire Department units will be on site from 8:30 a.m. until afternoon.
* Fishers Lane will be closed from 9:00 a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. "Local traffic only" for the residents living near the site will be allowed.
* Media will be given special access.
* Road closure hours have been set to avoid conflict with buses and carpools from the nearby elementary school and day care.
* Firefighters will train on interior combat/room fires in the morning, and larger fires as the day progresses.
* The structure will be burned to the ground, beginning around noon.
* Firefighters will be in place to protect nearby structures and vegetation, although this large lot presents minimal risks.
Media is invited, please contact Troy Buzalsky at 503.572.5504 to assure media access is maximized.
On May 8, at 9:19 AM Longview Fire and C2FR were dispatched to a reported commercial fire at 3001 Industrial Way, the Weyerhaeuser facility. Initial 911 reports indicated that there was a fire in the bag house located at the planner mill.
While enroute Longview Firefighters could see a column of black smoke from the intersection of Oregon Way and Industrial Way suggesting a working fire.
Upon arrival fire crews were greeted by Weyerhaeuser employees sharing that the fire was located inside of a decommissioned bag house, directly next to an operational bag house. The bag houses are both interconnected to the "Old Planer Building", a massive wooden structure (approximately 1000' X 600' X 30') where rough sawn dimensional lumber is planed into final tolerances.
Fire resources were divided into two tactical operations, one flowing water from large diameter hand lines and another utilizing the aerial ladder truck with firefighters directing master streams from the ladder pipe while operating in the ladders bucket.
The main body of the fire was difficult to reach due to the bag housing enclosure, but extinguished within approximately 45 minutes. Once extinguished firefighters were tasked with cutting into the steel skinned bag house chasing spot fires and also making sure no burning embers entered the duct work and potentially spread to the "Old Planer Building." Firefighters utilized Class A foam to help extinguish the fires in the bag hopper.
In total 19 firefighters from Longview Fire and C2FR were utilized to extinguish the fire. Because of the decommissioned status of the bag house that burned there is no estimate of damages. Firefighters believe the nearby bag house was not damaged from the heat or fire. There were no civilian or firefighters injuries reported. The facility was turned over to Weyerhaeuser staff at 11:30 AM for further duct work details.