For this month’s column, we go to our neighbors to the north—Alberta, Canada, to be exact. While hunting the Internet for various types of unique fire apparatus, I came upon a company that deals in fire protection for the oil refining industry.
The company, known as SafetyBoss Inc., operates as an oil field firefighting company. Its emergency and safety services include well control and blowout, hot tapping, freezing, pressure jet edge cutting, plant construction safety, emergency response planning, accident incident fire investigations, H2S safety services, loss management and plant turnaround, and firefighting trucks and products. The company’s environmental safety services include health and safety, emergency spill response, remediation, decontamination, surveys and assessments, hydrocarbon contaminated, hydrogen sulfide, industrial medic services, industrial safety training, loss prevention, natural occurring radioactive material (NORM), and radiation services. The company offers its services in North America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. SafetyBoss Inc. was founded in 1956 by K.J Smokey Miller and is headquartered in Calgary, Canada. The company has grown into building various types of vehicles such as the Smokey Series Combination Fire/Shower Unit, Badick Series Combination Fire/Shower Unit, Marion Fire Unit, Shower/Decontamination Unit, Compressed Air Foam Trailer (CAF Unit), Skid Pump and Trailer Suppression Packages, Wildland Fire Skid, and Trailer Packages. The company is also involved in extensive firefighting training in the oil and gas industry.
Vehicle Specifications and Advantages
Most recently the company was involved in designing a new firefighting vehicle for the industry. According to Mark Brown, president, “We wanted to design a vehicle that would make us more marketable in the industry as well as gain more coverage in other areas. The vehicle we designed needed to be smaller and easy to drive and operate. It also has a built-in decon shower to be self-sufficient at a scene. The heart of the system is its ultra-high-pressure (UHP) firefighting system. Two years ago, we began a dialog with HMA that builds the UHP system. We were interested in putting their system on our vehicle.”
For those who have never heard of this concept, ultra high pressure is defined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as pump pressures above 1,100 pounds per square inch. By flowing water at these pressures, 10 times the surface area is created by breaking down conventional water droplets into 64 smaller droplets, allowing for at least one fifth the water usage. Greater surface area means more contact with the fire and more efficient heat absorption. When the water droplet absorbs heat, it converts to steam, displacing oxygen, removing heat from the superheated environment, and extinguishing the fire.
“It’s really a nice compact addition to our vehicle and works really well on fires,” says Brown. “There is presently one unit built, another in motion, and three more to be built this year—all for our own use.” He continues, “We are talking with other communities in Canada and getting feedback to see if we could possibly market this unit for wildland urban interface use and as a stand-alone decon unit.”
Phil McGeough, corporate sales manager says, “Our goal is to maintain quality with each unit we build and provide the proper coverage that we need.” Brown says future builds should increase if the company does a good job of marketing the product. “We feel with this platform and technology the sky is the limit for future builds and use,” adds McGeough. “With the fire service experiencing low staffing problems, this unit would be great for a smaller community because of its small size, ease of operation and training, as well as being operable by a small number of personnel. The mantra is doing more with less and a lower cost.”
Service in the Middle East
“We are excited to be the first industrial safety company to introduce the newest concept firefighting module and technology to our industry in 35 years,” says Brown. “We have all experienced and seen a lot of changes in our industry between pumping fluids, on-site resources, fluctuating commodity prices, and the cost of doing business for both the vendor and customer. With these changes, we thought it was time to design something new, fresh, and more efficient utilizing an UHP platform. We know that change is hard to accept and that it may be difficult to introduce a new concept competing with conventional fire trucks. However, the science of UHP can no longer be disputed. This technology has been utilized in Europe for years, tested against conventional firefighting systems, and has proven to be more effective between optimizing water droplet size, utilizing less water, decreasing temperatures quicker, and improving overall safety faster. I was honored to name this new concept truck after our late friend, mentor, and family member Mark Badick. In his words, ‘It is about time we introduced a new and smaller fire truck to the industry!’ He was a big fan of the low-volume/high-pressure concept.”
There you have it—an industrial firefighting company that has been proactive in its industry since 1956 that wants to share its concepts and design of firefighting and hazmat vehicles with the fire service. It doesn’t get any better than that. Hopefully, this design will take off and smaller communities can take advantage of this newly designed vehicle that has multiple uses.
BOB VACCARO has more than 40 years of fire service experience. He is a former chief of the Deer Park (NY) Fire Department. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office, the New York Fire Patrol, and several major commercial insurance companies as a senior loss-control consultant. He is a life member of the IAFC.