Hurricane Harvey has shown the importance of having the proper fire protection and safety plans in place. Arkema Inc., a chemical company in Houston, Texas, has shown that major accidents can happen, no matter what plans a company has in place.
According to recent reports, because of the flooding, the storage containers began exploding. A 1.5-mile evacuation perimeter was designated to protect the residents of the surrounding area. Once the explosions began, choking black smoke began to accumulate. Three of the containers holding flammable chemicals had exploded and fires began to overtake the facility, but six other containers where still dangerous.
New reports have the company spokesperson stating the plan of blowing up the other six containers because they cannot be saved. This decision comes with consequences. More toxic smoke is expected and residents in that area are in danger.
Now reports of local firefighters and first responders are suing the company because of negligence. According to these news reports, the first responders were not properly informed about the extent of the fires and the hazards from the toxic fumes. Many local news agencies expect more lawsuits.
Much of this could have been prevented or, at the very least, limited if additional fire protection and safety procedures had been instituted. For example, Capstone could have been contacted prior to the hurricane and been on location with the proper equipment and trained personnel. Our service company would have performed an assessment of the company assets, the impending hurricane situation, been knowledgeable about the surroundings and have the required equipment, as well as trained fire experts and emergency personnel already at the site.
Without proper planning and a quality fire service in place to fight the current blaze, as well as the expected explosion, more damage is expected. Having fire protection experts and managing and controlling the explosions would have limited the situation.
Public and private companies can take the extra step of contacting fire protection and safety experts before trouble starts and have the correct personnel on hand to prevent greater disaster.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 1926.24 outlines the regulations on fire protection and safety. These regulations place the responsibility of implementation on the company and not anyone else.
Capstone encourages companies with highly flammable materials to speak with experts. Have competent fire and safety personnel on site to review or assist with OSHA regulations on 1926.24. This is an important action a company can do to ensure the safety of their workers, as well as the residents who live in the surrounding areas.
Even with the best safety plans, backup plans and backup to the backup plans, disasters cannot be prevented. Employees and residents cannot be protected enough when handling, storing, or manufacturing flammable materials.
Public and private entities can use a service company to aid them with OSHA regulations. Outsourcing a fire and safety company is cost-effective and has trained and qualified staff in place to mitigate disasters. The loss of life, as well as company assets have overwhelmed companies in the past. Understanding fire protection and safety is essential in operating a safe environment for workers and residents.
Capstone puts full support behind all the people of East Texas and Southern Louisiana, who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. If you have any questions about fire protection and safety contact us.