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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At 4:10 P.M., it appeared the fire was being controlled, but suddenly flaming petroleum product began running out the D-side overhead door of the fire building. It is believed that the plastic containers in steel baskets had failed and were letting burning product spread throughout the building. Aerial 12 and the crew from Engine 44-11 began applying water and foam to keep the fire from reaching the exposed building and the containers of product stored on side B of the exposed building.

At 4:32 P.M., Domerese ordered hand-line crews to pull back from the fire and that the attack would be strictly defensive using aerial trucks and a four-inch deluge gun from Mount Morris City. A secondary five-inch supply line was connected to Aerial 12 from Clio Engine 11, which was connected to a hydrant north of the fire scene. When it was determined that the fire building was beyond saving, all efforts were put into protecting the exposed building, which contained offices as well as storage of case goods and five-gallon container storage in the second bay, and 55-gallon container storage in the remaining six bays. Todd advised the owners to accompany fire personnel into the 11134 building and remove all computers and records that were required.

Genesee County Sheriff Department Sergeant Tom Pyles arrived at the command post and it was agreed that the Sheriff's Department would handle all evacuations and road closings. Periodically throughout the evening, Pyles returned to the command post with updates and to discuss changes to evacuations and road closings. The Genesee County Road Commission was requested to bring barricades to the area to assist with the multiple road closures and control traffic. At 4:38, Domerese asked Consumers Energy to shut down all primary (14,000-volt) lines on Saginaw Road in front of the fire building due to use of aerial trucks to try to control the fire and protect the 11134 building.

Mount Morris Township Aerial Ladder 37-A15 arrived at 4:50 P.M. Mount Morris City Engine 44-11 was moved to the front of the 11134 building to let Mount Morris Township Ladder 37-A15 position in the entrance of the driveway between the two buildings. Mount Morris City Engine 44-11 was supplied by the five-inch hydrant line from the south side of the incident and fed Mount Morris Township Ladder 37-A15 with foam. Mount Morris City firefighters positioned their four-inch deluge gun monitor between the two buildings to apply foam on the tanks on side B of the exposed building which was supplied by Engine 44-11. Foam began arriving in five-gallon pails and 55-gallon drums from nine fire departments and two private companies. It was staged directly across the street from the fire.

Water Supply

It was determined that the hydrant to the south of the incident was going to be of little use as the use of the two hydrants north of the incident were using the majority of the water before it could reach the hydrant on the south. The 12-inch water main flows from the north and dead ends at Wilson Road. Genesee County Water and Waste was requested to boost the pressure on the water main system. The utility increased the pressure, but was limited because of it feeding through the city of Clio and would cause water main failures in older parts of the city. A water tender (tanker) shuttle operation using three 2,000-gallon portable tanks was set up on Saginaw Road in front of the exposed building. Mount Morris City Engine 44-11 drafted out of the portable tanks and supplied Mount Morris Township Station 1 Aerial Ladder 37-A15 with a 100-foot, five-inch line. Genesee Township Assistant Fire Chief Curtis St. John was assigned as water supply officer and established the shuttle/portable tank operation.