JOIFF Africa Fire and Explosion Hazard Management Conference 2019
JOIFF, the International Organisation for Industrial Emergency Response and Fire Hazard Management held its JOIFF Africa Fire and Explosion Hazard Management Conference 2019 on 23 and 25 June 2019 at the Graceland Hotel, Casino and Country Club in Secunda. Pine Pienaar, retired chief fire officer, Sasol Secunda Emergency Services, was the South African organiser of the two-day event. The biennale conference provided opportunity for delegates to converge with high-level international and regional fire and explosion hazard management specialists to listen, discuss and network with the world’s and sub-Saharan Africa’s foremost experts and specialists on fire and explosion hazard management pre preparedness.
JOIFF chairman, Randal Fletcher, welcomed delegates, speakers and sponsors and set the scene for the conference after the introduction by Pienaar.
The key note address was delivered by Commissioner Eric Yap of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) who shared his hands on experience in managing the Singapore Civil Defence Force, proactively leading integration of new technology and enhancing service delivery. An informative video provided an overview of the SCDF, their capabilities, policies, strategies, tactics, various programmes, training and specialised apparatus and equipment. Commissioner Yap said that they were very proud that their Operation Lionheart Contingent reclassified as an International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team in September 2018. He detailed the challenges faced by the SCDF, which is mainly to find employable people due to Sinapore’s aging population, which is why they are heavily investing in technology, serious technology! From a normal response team of eight, which was reduced to six and currently to four people, they are about rollout a response of three plus an autonomous vehicle (fire fighting robot). They rely heavily on technology to ensure the safety of their fire fighters. “We need humans with clear minds to move more robots,” said Commissioner Yap. “We are also building a nation of lifesavers, while embracing technology and innovation”, he added.
Dr Richard Walls of Stellenbosch University discussed ‘Fire Safety Engineering Education for Africa: the role of our universities’. Dr Walls shared the challenges faced by fire engineers in South Africa such as our growing population, urbanisation and increase in poverty. He detailed the Stellenbosch University’s Fire Engineering programme and shared results from recent fire tests performed on shacks in informal settlements, with the main focus on fire spread.
Lloyd Phetlhu of the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) spoke about the status with fire service delivery in South Africa. Phetlhu provided an update on the current legislation, proposed policy linkage between fire services and designated services, key challenges and strategic actions and the NDMC’s key projects for the 2019/2020 financial year.
JOIFF’s Alec Feldman provided an overview of JOIFF, the founding history, international membership, post nominals, JOIFF in South Africa and the future of JOIFF. Feldman highlighted the three pillars of JOIFF ie
Jason Sertori of OIC United Nations Fire and Rescue Unit Monusco (West) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) shared his experience managing Kinshasa Fire Department, the challenges faced by this small but dedicated team of nine members in a highly politically challenged environment. Sertori said that fire safety and building standards are nearly non-existent and that there is no water available for fire fighting purposes. “If you can train and work together, you can achieve anything”, he added.
The Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa’s (FPASA) Lynley Carols shared the fire statistics for the 2017/2018 period adding that only about 54 of the 257 municipalities submitted statistics. He discussed the economic losses and the current water scarcity reality in South Africa. Carols also detailed the various passive suppressions systems available.
Chris Gilbert of Rural Metro Fire Services discussed ‘Private fire services – an African necessity’ sharing his experience from his travels throughout Africa, providing an overview of the general state of fire services in Africa. He looked at the establishment of private fire services in order to run alongside municipal brigades to improve safety and response and detailed the benefits of public/private involvement. Gilbert also highlighted the importance of standardisation and education and training.
The second key note address was delivered by Randal Fletcher of JOIFF, ‘Diverse challenges successfully resolved’. He shared his role and background in BP saying, “Accurate assurance is based upon truth. There are only three questions: What, so what and what now?” said Fletcher discussing assurance. He shared a video of a major incident at Adelaide Oil Depot. Fletcher looked as assurance assessment, order of evaluation and common themes. He also focused on providing assurance in Africa saying, “Morale is a force multiplier, whether good or bad. The challenge is to take what you have gained/learned from this conference home and to apply it and make it work for you and your people.”
Stellenbosch University’s Dr Richard Walls looked at industrial structure in fire. Dr Walls discussed rational structural design, structural response and the effect of fire on buildings, passive fire protection systems, the role of structural fire engineers, steps to rational structural design, fire curves and comparisons and building design loading during a fire.
Williams Fire and Hazard Control’s Eric LaVergne shared lessons learned from the latest case studies worldwide. LaVergne reviewed major incidents such as the Chalmatte , 46-metre gasoline storage tank fire in Louisiana, which was the largest fully-involved tank fire extinguished in history, amongst many other case studies. “With all things being equal, fuel volatility dictates application rates”, said LaVergne. He also detailed why Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) was so difficult to extinguish and lessons still to be learnt such as naphtha tank boilovers and ice formation on gasoline tank walls.
Western Cape Government’s Colin Deiner discussed ‘Wildland and informal settlement operational response challenges’ detailing the three major contributors ie the wildland/urban interface, climate change and alien invasive plants and trees. An interest video clip showcasing the enormity of wildfires in the province and the risks faced by the fire brigades provided back ground information for his presentation. Deiner provide a comparison between the response and type of fire risk and detailed their integrated fire management strategy. “I cannot stress the importance of partnerships enough in order to face these challenges”, said Deiner.
Gexcon’s Graham Morrison spoke on explosion hazards, which included an evaluation on the Tianjin explosion and a comparison to the West Texas Fertiliser plant explosion. Morrison gave an overview of Gexcon saying that the Norwegian company specialised in the field of safety and risk management and advance dispersion explosion and fire modelling. He also provided insight into explosion risk management and looked at eight major incidents that affected risk modelling. He shared the latest technology in predicting risk.
This is but a brief overview of the presentations but I will provide a more detailed report back in Fire and Rescue International.
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