New report examines major Tilbury blaze tactics
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is to share its tactics and outcomes in tackling a major blaze at Tilbury Power Station with colleagues around the country. To co-incide with the second anniversary of the blaze, the Service has published a detailed report into the incident to assist and inform firefighters faced with similar risks in the future.
“It is not often that a Fire and Rescue Service is requested to respond to an incident of this nature,” says report author Divisional Officer Mark Samuels. “The scale of escalation, the dynamics of tackling what was in essence a high rise incident within a large power station, is somewhat unique. The fact that the plant had recently converted from being coal fired to biomass pellets added unprecedented challenges as to how to tackle, suppress and extinguish this fire.”
On arrival, crews were faced with what was a fully developed fire some 108 feet above ground with the added complication that early indications suggested people may be trapped within the building.
“Although this soon proved not to be the case, those crews who initially responded are to be commended on their level headed and professional approach to what was clearly a challenging and dynamic situation on their arrival,” says DO Samuels.
“The next four and a half days of on-site firefighting operations relied heavily upon the professionalism and innovation of those officers and crews attending the fire, although this incident would have been more difficult to extinguish without the complete co-operation of the site owners RWE and many other partner organisations including Calor Gas Ltd.
“As with any operational incident, there are many lessons to be learned and it is testament to all those involved that this fire, despite its obvious logistical and tactical difficulties, was dealt with in a highly effective way. The report aims to bring those lessons learned to the fore with the view to improving where necessary ECFRS’ own response and assist others in understanding biomass fires.
“The incident quickly generated global interest with requests for information coming in on a daily basis. This report was written to enhance future firefighting tactics within ECFRS and to inform others with similar risks.”