TX Eastman, Working Fire, and BURN!

Things have been a little busy lately, so I am trying to play catch up as far as the blog goes. I spent most of last week in Texas at the Eastman Chemical Corporate Fire School, and I’m still trying to get back in to the swing of things. We had a working fire on shift today, and am still working on finalizing plans to drive to Greenville, SC on Thursday to watch the BURN: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit screening. This post may be a little scattered, but I’m going to try my best.

Every year around October, Eastman Chemical company hosts a Corporate Fire School for their firefighters, ERT members, and a few municipal firefighters from the neighboring departments. This year, I was one of two firefighters from here in the “Model City” that was lucky enough to travel to Longview, Texas for three full days of classroom/hands-on training. Since we have an Eastman Chemical plant here, they typically send two of us with their crew down for the training. We respond to the plant to back up their department if they have to go out on a response. Typically, it only consists of us standing by at their fire station until they clear up, but occasionally we have to respond to emergencies within the plant.

The Texas Eastman is the host of the Corporate Fire School. We flew into Dallas-Fort Worth Airport last Sunday, and made the drive towards Louisiana to Longview, Texas. Longview has a slightly larger population than Kingsport, and staff a few more pieces of apparatus than us. Some of Texas A&M’s fire classes are hosted at the TX Eastman where the large fire training props are. Throughout the week, we got to fight many types of liquid and gas fires. A few of the props they have on-site are a rail car project, a tank farm project, and a couple multi-story chemical complex projects. The staff on-site made us feel very welcome and were very knowledgeable. I definitely learned a lot while I was there, and I am pretty sure everyone in attendance would say the same. I also developed an appreciation for the types of emergencies they respond to. I have never been one that enjoys all the “glow worm haz-mat responses,” but I definitely enjoyed learning new techniques that they use to fight the chemical fires. Several of the props even had pressure vessels that would even vent off until they were cooled down. The majority of the drills would consist of multiple fire crews working in a coordinated fashion to gain access to the exposed valves, so that the valves could be closed. A few photos below have been attached to give you a better idea of what I am attempting to explain.

 
 
 

Three firefighters from Longview Fire attended the class with us. Talk about BROTHERHOOD…these guys definitely know the term by heart. Lynn Smyers, Jimmy Lawrence, and Jon-Eric Johnson treated us as one of their own. We all shared stories and experiences with each other throughout the week, and compared similarities/differences between our departments. It seems that they have a great department that they are very proud of. They took us around to a few of their stations and let us meet some of their crews. Longview Fire runs out of 8 stations, and operate 3 trucks, 4 Medic units, and I believe 7 Engines. Several years ago, they started making all of their probies go to Paramedic school. Today, almost the entire department is trained to the medical certification level of Paramedic. I gave the three guys some of our challenge coins that were made by NM-Coin, and they returned the favor by hooking us up with a few of their own coins. (Check out my review of NM-COIN LLC here) Smyers, Lawrence, and Johnson treated us as one of their own, and it definitely made the trip! I look forward to keeping in touch with these guys, and if you are ever out their way…I’m sure they would gladly show you around. I wish we would have had more time to spend with them, but with class starting every morning at 7AM, we didn’t have much free time. They even gave us a few of their shirts and I am going to be sending some of our IAFF Local 2270 shirts and coins in the mail.

Today is my middle shift of our series at work, and was also our first shift in our long sleeved badge shirts. Around 4PM today, we caught a working fire to break our newly pressed button-up uniforms in. It had been a fairly slow day, until the fire came in and it seemed to break loose afterwards. The fire was in Station 5’s area, and they were busy responding on a medical call. This made the station I’m working at first in on the fire. The first arriving engine arrived on-scene w/ smoke showing. The attack crew went to work with an aggressive interior attack. The important thing is that everyone worked their tails off, and no one was injured. We wrapped the scene up within a few hours.

On Thursday, a few coworkers and myself are planning on making a short commute down to Greenville, SC for a screening of the documentary about Detroit Fire. If you haven’t heard about the battles these guys have, I encourage you to do some research. The population in Detroit has been cut in half over the last several years, and they have a very high number of arson fires on a daily basis. I believe this year on the three days around Halloween, they responded to about 93 house fires. The film is called BURN: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit. Click the link and view the information on the film. I have also submitted for a screening here in the Tri-Cities, so hopefully we will see a local screening in the future. One of the things I am looking forward to most is a Q&A afterwards with the Producers and Detroit firefighters who are featured in the film. I have been following the progress of the film for the last couple years, and they are still working on funding to be able to release it nationwide.

That’s all for now,
Stay safe!