Freeholder Dale Cross at Fire Academy Burn, Dec. 2015

Freeholder Dale Cross at Fire Academy Burn, Dec. 2015

The Salem County Fire Academy recently hosted an open house and live fire demonstration using the Academy’s newly installed Industrial Firefighting prop to simulate fires routinely seen in the petrochemical and chemical industries, as well as, simulating scenarios that could be found at facilities utilizing or dispensing LP or natural gas. The attendees heard from the Academy’s duty officer, Instructor John Austin, who retired from the SUNOCO Eagle Point Refinery. Several county fire departments, as well as, representatives from PSEG and Chemours attended.

Julie Acton, Freeholder Director stated, “the newly installed equipment allows our Fire Academy to take fire training to the next level offering our fire fighters the necessary training when encountering these types of incidents. Our communities and industries are the beneficiaries.”

The rare fire training props were donated by SUNOCO Logistics Eagle Point refinery and originally utilized to train their refinery firefighters and those in West Deptford Township. Leroy Pierce, Chief Fire Instructor, led the discussions leading to the donation of three-module prop, control manifold, and two 1000-gallon LP gas tanks to the Academy. Private industry sector partners were approached and three Salem County companies partnered to cover the financial burden for the labor and installation of the piping in the burn prop area, using the piping supplied by the county.

“The new addition to the Fire Academy’s current training props, has greatly improved the Academy’s ability to venture outside of the public sector fire service education realm and to begin to offer a wide variety of training sessions for private industry and other commercial entities, stated Instructor Austin.” The first training was held in October during Industrial Fire Brigade refresher training for responders from Chemours/ DuPont, Mexichem, Lubrizol and OxyVinyl.

Freeholder Dale Cross accepted the invitation to “gear up” and participate in two scenarios, securing several valves during the live fire exercises. After the event, Freeholder Cross was asked about his experience. He replied, “It certainly was a different life experience and gave me a deeper respect for what our women and men do.”

Freeholder Director Julie Acton and Freeholder Dale Cross, Public Safety Committee chairperson noted, “The private sector partner’s involvement, both financially and in the training, now made possible through the partnerships. We thank Chief Fire Instructor Leroy Pierce for his tireless efforts in advancing the Academy’s expansion and services and the networks he has built, the staff in attendance for their dedication and professionalism, and the first responders for their dedication and continuing their training.”

Several Basic Industrial Fire Brigade classes are slated for the spring of 2016 already, earmarked for the county’s industry partners.