Shouts of fire, fire… suddenly disrupted the usual fuelling of tanker lorries on the premises of the Indian Oil Corporation’s Terminal at Vazhavanthankottai on the city outskirts.
Holding aloft a red flag, a security guard on his feet raised an alarm indicating the location of the tank that was supposedly on fire. Even as the siren kept ringing, the fire combat team sprung into action running up to the huge tank and unleashing water jets on it. The tanker lorries were immediately vacated from the fuelling bays.
Within moments, a team of the Fire and Rescue Services department joined the fire fighters. The auxiliary and rescue teams also spurred themselves into a state of readiness.
Well, it was on onsite emergency response drill carried out by the fire combat team of the terminal in the presence of top officials of the Inspectorate of Factories. The operation based on the assumption that the tank was on fire caused by lightning was completed in five minutes. The officials keenly observed various nuances of the operation and particularly queried the IOC officials on their preparedness to handle such an emergency situation after the working hours.
Terminal Manager R. Ravichandran replied that since almost all officials and staff had undergone training in fire combat and rescue operations, there was enough strength to undertake combat action round the clock. Mr. Ravichandran favoured the suggestion of the visiting officials that the next drill be carried out in the evening hours.
Though the drill must be carried out once a year statutorily, the IOC Terminal does it with outside help twice, and every month internally, said Mr. Ravichandran, adding that the Terminal has water storage of 5,200 kilolitres. In Thursday’s operation, 300 kl of water and 200 litres of foam liquid were utilised.
The operation was meant to put out the fire in one of the 3,455 kl tanks on the premises. An adjacent tank with the same capacity at a distance of less than 30 metres was also covered in the exercise in order to create a cooling effect and prevent the fire from spreading further.
“The fire combat team has done a good work,” said Joint Chief Inspector of Factories S. Rathnam. While commending the effort, Mr. Rathnam observed that there was scope for improving readiness further. He was satisfied with the maintenance of the fire fighting equipment and housekeeping.
Deputy Chief Inspector of Factories R. Iraiarul suggested that the staff at IOC terminal be exposed to the nuances of rescue operation by inviting the commando team of the Fire and Rescue Services Department for a demonstration. According to Station Fire Officer, Navalpattu, G. Ganesan, the IOC Fire Combat team provided precise directions to his department personnel without time loss.
Inspector of Factories S. Kathirvel and Assistant Inspector of Factories A. Kavitha also observed the exercise.