Be Ready for "The Big One"

On Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009, a multiple-alarm fire destroyed two buildings at the White Oil Co., a division of Michigan Petroleum Technologies, in Vienna Township, MI. Building one, (the original fire building), built in 1973, was a 128-by-70-foot...


On Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009, a multiple-alarm fire destroyed two buildings at the White Oil Co., a division of Michigan Petroleum Technologies, in Vienna Township, MI. Building one, (the original fire building), built in 1973, was a 128-by-70-foot warehouse with an 18-by-46-foot loading dock...


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Engine 21 and Tanker 25 laid a 700-foot, five-inch line from a hydrant south of the incident to the scene to supply Engine 44-11. Squad 28 was positioned on the west side of Saginaw Road, in the south driveway of Clio Sand and Gravel, to act as the staging/rehab area and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) fill station. Clio Station 2 Battalion Chief Kevin Bloss was assigned as the staging officer. Later, Bloss would be assisted by Deputy Chief George Taylor of the Montrose Fire Department as part of the Greater Clio Area Fire Chiefs Emergency Coordination System.

Domerese retrieved the pre-fire plans from Squad 28 and met with Todd to review them. The fire building contained products in 55-gallon drums, case goods, and 275-gallon and 330-gallon plastic totes in steel baskets. It also contained five 2,000-gallon, seven 4,000-gallon and nine 4,500-gallon bulk storage tanks. The nine, 4,500 gallon tanks had a concrete containment dike around them, but the others did not. These bulk storage tanks contained motor oil, automatic transmission fluid, hydraulic oil, lubricants and gear oil.

The exposed building 35 feet south of the fire building contained the business offices (in the west end) as well as storage of case goods and five-gallon containers in the second bay, and 55-gallon containers in the remaining six warehouse bays. Unknown to command at the time, the exposed building contained 30 55-gallon drums of methanol (mineral spirits). Sixty feet to the southeast of the exposed building were three above-ground storage tanks within an earth berm containment area. Two 25,000-gallon tanks contained diesel fuel and one 15,000-gallon tank contained regular unleaded gasoline. Each diesel tank contained 5,000 gallons of product and there were 4,000 gallons of gasoline in the other storage tank.

Domerese requested the Genesee County Hazardous Materials Team to the scene at 3:43 and the Genesee County Association of Fire Chiefs (GCAFC) Emergency Coordination System activated at 3:49. Clio Area Assistant Chief Kerry Paulson arrived at 3:50 with Squad 16 and was assigned as hazardous materials liaison to keep command informed of all product-runoff and air-quality issues. Paulson was later assigned as the public information officer as well. Aerial 12 arrived at 3:50 P.M. and was positioned on Saginaw Road. This aerial was set up to begin aerial master stream operations on side A of the fire building supplied by the five-inch hydrant line laid by Clio Pumper/Tanker 17. Mount Morris City Engine 44-11 was positioned in the driveway between the two buildings. Crews stretched a 100-foot, 2½-inch handline from Engine 44-11 to the D-side overhead door and attacked the fire there.

At 4 P.M., Jim Vogt from Mount Morris Township Station 1 arrived on scene as the lead coordinator for the GCAFC Emergency Coordination group and reported to the command post. It was decided to request 20 additional personnel to the scene and aerial ladder trucks capable of delivering foam. Additional foam supplies were also requested. Primary staging was established at Firemen's Park on Wilson Road, a half-mile southeast of the fire.

At 4:05 P.M., a large tracked excavator with grappling jaws was requested to pull the northwest section of the building apart to try to gain better access to the fire. Young's Environmental Emergency Response responded to the scene, as its personnel have bunker gear and their equipment is equipped for SCBA. When they arrived on scene at 5:15, the fire had increased and the building condition deteriorated to the point of being unable to complete the task.

Engine 21 was directed to side C of the fire building and placed two 2½-inch attack lines into operation to provide exposure coverage from the east. This engine was supplied by a 400-foot, five-inch line from Mount Morris City Engine 44-11. At 4:20, Ed Blight, a Genesee County Hazardous Materials Team supervisor, reported to the command post. During a discussion with Domerese, he was advised of the Vienna Drain, which was the only water course of immediate concern. This runs northeast to southwest 400 feet behind the fire building. After Blight checked the Vienna Drain, it was discovered to be dry. The Vienna Drain flows northeast to Pine Run Creek, which flows into the Flint River. Through a series of other rivers, the water eventually ends up in Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. Genesee County Hazardous Materials Team Supervisor Jim Lincoln met with the owners and obtained all Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the site.