Mock fire fighting exercise at HPCL plant

BANGALORE DEC. 4. Emergency was declared following a "leak in bullet No 3", one of the liquefied petroleum gas tanks at the bottling plant of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) at Mahadevapura on Whitefield Road here. Immediately employees ran out from the "danger zone." Water sprinklers around the three "bullets" storing liquefied petroleum gas were switched on. The fire fighting team of the company swung into action: All these happened at the mock fire fighting exercise of the company to commemorate "Chemical Disaster Prevention Day". It was to show the preparedness of the company's employees to deal with gas leaks at the plant.

As many as 20 workmen in three units forming part of the fire fighting team of the company deal with possible disasters. Six officers head the units. "The team fights such disasters with the help of a safety system, including the latest equipment," Abhishek Datta, Senior Regional Manager of the company said. The focus of the operation was to cool the temperature in the surroundings of a gas leak incident, he said.

"By providing a `water envelope' around the bullets, we try to cool the temperature of the surrounding areas. This will not allow the gas to `expand in contact with heated air'," Mr. Datta said. The "Quartzoid" bulbs placed near the probable leakage points activated the system following a leak, he explained. K.G. Krishnappa, Director of Factories and Boilers, Bangalore District, said that 75 industries in the State had been asked to take up such preventive measures to combat disaster. He said that underground distribution of liquefied petroleum gas to residential houses could avoid the hazards of "cylinder bursts."

G.S. Narayanaswamy, Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore (Urban) district, said that a book containing information about disaster management had been prepared. They were also reviewing the safety measures taken up by the industries in the area.

Observers from companies such as ITI, IOCL and CIPLA invited by the company for the mock rehearsal, suggested improvements in the fire fighting system.

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