Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Incident at Tilbury Grain Terminal

Tilbury Freeport, Tilbury Docks
03/07/2020 @ 09:55
Incident Number: 125970
In attendance: 2 x Grays, 1 x Orsett, 1 x Corringham


UPDATE 5pm, 23 July   

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service crews will leave the grain terminal today after working with site staff and partners to manage the incident.

Over the last 20 days, crews have remained on scene at all times while working to extinguish fires in a number of grain silos and have worked to minimise damage to the rest of the site.

During that time, firefighters have used specific firefighting techniques including using nitrogen and foam to extinguish the fires while working at height in challenging conditions. Working alongside site staff at the grain terminal, the Environment Agency, scientists and engineers, crews have contained the fires and the site will now be managed by the grain Port of Tilbury staff. Essex County Fire and Rescue Service will input as and when required while the site safely remove the affected grain silos.

Chief Fire Officer/ Chief Executive, Jo Turton, said:

“I’m really proud of our team for their professionalism during this protracted incident. The welfare of our staff has been a priority during this incident and regular risk assessments were carried out to protect our crews, site staff and partners working to safely resolve this incident.

“This has been a great example of multi-agency working where different teams have worked closely together to contain this incident to the affected area. We will continue to work closely with the grain terminal at the Port of Tilbury and will be on hand while they manage this incident going forward.

A spokesperson for The Port of Tilbury said:

 “We have worked continuously with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to contain and extinguish the fires within a number of the bins at the Grain Silo. This process will be ongoing, however it will now be managed by the Port of Tilbury staff on site, with input from the fire service as and when required.

 “We would like to express our gratitude for the commitment and professionalism that has been displayed by all members of the fire service who have been involved in this significant issue.”

UPDATE 12.15pm, 11 July

Essex County Fire and Rescue Services remains at Tilbury Grain Terminal, where there are a number of silos on fire.

Our priority is to extinguish the fire, so the affected silos at the grain terminal can be safely taken down and removed. This will require specific firefighting techniques, including using nitrogen and foam.

Our specialist Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams have set up a safe system of work for our crews, meaning our firefighters can work safely at height. We have drones and CCTV thermal imaging cameras, providing details and images to our fire officers.

The tactics that are being used to control and eliminate this fire have been risk assessed, tested and are fully supported by external scientific advisors and structural engineers.

The action and activity we are undertaking ensures that we are extinguishing the fires as a priority, which will also protect the remaining assets and products in the other areas of the grain terminal.

At times there may be some visible smoke or steam as we tackle the fire. Rest assured, this is expected as part of our plans and there is no risk to the public.

UPDATE from The Port of Tilbury, 9 July

Following the explosion at the Tilbury Grain Terminal on Friday 3 July, our initial efforts have been concentrated on working with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service to contain and eliminate the fire in the affected area of the silo and to protect the area of the silo which was unaffected by the explosion.

Operations at the silo itself will be closed until at least 31 July and we will provide a further update on this during the month.

Grain handling and storage services however are still available from today (9 July) within the Port of Tilbury for our customers. We have complemented this with a significant quantity of offsite storage which has now been secured to back up quayside handling and storage. 

We will continue to service our customer and farming base for both imports and exports of agricultural products to the best of our ability during this period of disruption.

We thank our customers, port team and the emergency services for their continued support to us at this time.” 

Peter Ward, Commercial Manager, The Port of Tilbury

Jim Palmer, Head of Prevention and Protection at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said:

“We're continuing to work closely with site engineers and partner agencies to manage this incident safely while preventing further risk to the site. The welfare of our staff is and will continue to be a priority, alongside supporting the port owners and their teams." 

UPDATE 5:45pm, 7 July

Firefighters are continuing to work alongside site engineers, scientific advisors and other partner agencies to monitor the scene and to minimise the impact the incident has on the grain site.

This will be a protracted incident, with crews remaining at the scene over the coming days, working alongside partners to minimise the damage caused by the fires.

The incident is contained within silos at the site and there is no risk to neighbouring sites within the Port of Tilbury.

Jim Palmer, Head of Prevention and Protection at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “At incidents like this, it’s really important that we work closely with partner agencies to ensure the safety of everyone involved. The welfare of all of our employees is a priority for us, and we’re working to keep them safe while they work to make the scene safe."

Charles Hammond, Group Chief Executive of Forth Ports said: "Our team at the Port of Tilbury is working with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, structural engineers, and scientific advisors, to make sure that the fire is extinguished in the safest possible manner. We are extremely grateful for the continued support of everyone involved."

UPDATE 3pm, 6 July

Just before midnight, fires ignited in a number of grain silos and the incident was escalated to eight crews to establish the location of each fire. 

To create a secondary water supply, a further seven crews were called in and worked throughout the night to extinguish the fires in sections. 

Crews surrounded and contained the fires and worked to bring the incident back down to a controlled burn.

The incident has been scaled back down to four crews who will remain at the scene to monitor hotspots. 

Group Manager Martyn Hare said: “Crews worked tirelessly throughout the night to surround and contain the fires. Due to the complexity of the layout, we requested additional crews to ensure we had a steady water supply and during a multi-agency approach, we have contained the fires to the site.

“There may be some noise some coming the site due to work carried but rest assured crews remain on scene ready to deploy.”

This will be a protracted incident with crews remaining at the scene over the coming days working alongside engineers to minimise the impact on the grain site.

The incident is contained within silos at the site and there is no risk to neighbouring sites within the Port of Tilbury. 

UPDATE 10:15pm 5 July

Crews will continue to remain at the scene during what will be a protracted incident while the fire burns in a controlled environment. Firefighters continue to work with site staff and partners to monitor hotspots within the silos. 

UPDATE 12:30pm 5 July

Group Manager Martyn Hare, Incident Commander,  said: “Firefighters have remained at the scene since Friday morning during this protracted incident to monitor hotspots within the silo. Firefighters are working with site staff and partners to let the fire burn in a controlled environment to protect the surrounding risks.” 


Crews were called to an incident at Tilbury Docks today at 9.55am. 

On arrival, firefighters found grain in a silo was on fire. Crews made sure the fire was under control but allowed the grain to smoulder.

Two crews, from Grays and Orsett, remain at the scene and are working with site managers to remove the unaffected grain from the silo so it does not ignite.

Crews are working with site managers to get the site back up and running and are liaising with Port of Tilbury Police to allow businesses back to their premises at the appropriate time.
 
Watch Manager Dave Bond said: “We’ve now reduced the number of crews needed to two, and these firefighters will continue to remove unaffected grain and allow the grain to smoulder in the top of the grain silo. 

“It was a great joint response from the Ambulance Service, Port of Tilbury Police, Fire Service and Port to control the incident and stop it from escalating.”


Could you be an on-call firefighter?

Some of the firefighters at this incident are on-call firefighters who live or work within 5 minutes of an on-call fire station and are paid to protect their local community.

To find out more about the role and how you can apply, visit: join.essex-fire.gov.uk/on-call

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