Fire breaks out at Naledi Lubricants in Sasolburg
A fire broke out at Naledi Lubricants situated at the Naledi Industrial Park in Sasolburg on Monday, 26 October 2020. NATREF fire chief, Rory Hodgkinson, provided the following feedback. “In general the practice is that the fire chief of the local jurisdiction contacts the mutual aid partners for assistance but with an incident like this, you know the response call will be inevitable and with a high threat to the safety of lives and destruction of property, our response was immediate. The logical response from any fire officer is to size up prior to leaving, while driving and while arriving on scene. Due to it being a local area, I always note that water supply becomes an issue with only a three to four bar water pressure. So I immediately summoned our water tanker as well. As I heard it was fuel and could see the dark smoke, I immediately summoned Joseph as well with the foam tanker. While responding with the industrial wildland side, my phone was going crazy with calls from everyone so I had to pull over to answer calls from senior managers. I stopped again to size up the situation from about 100m on the south side. I knew the business as I used to cycle often past the area and also knew that they had a large volume of lubricants in small containers in the storage area. What I could determine that the building was not on fire but two road tankers. Explosions were taking place and I was constantly busy to monitor if it was tyres, compartments or other cylinders. I was unsure at that moment whether they had LPG storage.”
Chief Hodgkinson continued, “I also sized up that we had more than one car alight with also a possibility of fuel tank explosions. My main size up mindset was what surface area of flammable pool fire do we have and when every time a compartment fails, the size of the pool fire can increase five times.”
“I got my team to stage on the north side of the area where I met up with local fire chief, James Mkhwanazi of Metsimaholo Local Municipality. Due to water shortage, we calculated we had two water tankers, Metsimaholo Fire and Rescue’s tanker (donated by NATREF and Sasol) and NATREF’s tanker. We also established that there were no patients. “The first objective was to protect the other cars from igniting. Metsimaholo got a handline and a team on the cars.”
“Remember, any large volume of water would just spread the liquid fire and increase the size of pool fire. The idea was to apply foam in the soft application with a rain down method, limiting water and fire spread. The goal was to put water from NATREF water tanker via the dose pump on the foam tanker and then run foam fire fighting solution lines and apply foam in a rain down method as well las use fire extinguishers for those difficult areas where foam would not work eg between tyres”, added Chief Hodgkinson.
He said, “We had a few technical issues with a coupling between our water tanker and foam tanker due to hose coupling size. With Sasol on the scene, the objective was the same, get water into the their fire tender and then utilise hand lines with foam as the water supply into the vehicle will be of low pressure and volume. As soon as the foam was applied the fire started to subside. Joseph Meyer moved in to help with team to apply foam in right areas. Shadrack Lesemela responded from home and came and offered support and managed the Dosetech pump on the foam tanker.”
“Unfortunately, one tanker was totally destroyed and the second tanker still had large volume of fuel within in the compartments. Two vehicles were destroyed in the process plus a forklift. There was lots of damage to the building and other infrastructure.”
“The water tanker from NATREF and Mestimaholo Fire and Rescue as well as the NATREF foam tanker played a massive role in the extinguishment. Note, two years ago this was not available. Off duty staff, who came out to support, helped tremendously and in general, the team work was good. Also, the willingness of all EMS staff from different agencies was commendable”, concluded Hodgkinson.
Source: Rory Hodgkinson, fire chief, NATREF