A fire on the painting line, an endangered pipeline with coke-oven gas and the dispatch area in the Thick Metal Sheet Rolling Mill hall – this is the scenario of firefighting exercises that took place this week in Częstochowa Steelworks.
In the morning of September 8th, seven fire engines entered the area of the Thick Metal Sheet Rolling Mill on fire signals. One of them got inside the hall from the dispatch side, the others lined up outside, and one of the vehicles extended the ladder to the roof. The firemen unfolded the fire hoses, connected them to the hydrants and started to put out the fire. Fortunately, only simulated.
Similar exercises were held on the premises of the Częstochowa Steelworks every year – alternately in the Steelworks and the Thick Metal Sheet Rolling Mill. The exception was in 2019, when due to the announced bankruptcy of the company and the suspension of production, there were no firefighter exercises. In addition to the exercises described above, the firefighters visited the WBG hall for the next three days, learning about its topography and the dangers it faced.
For the firefighters, the exercises are an opportunity to get to know the buildings of the Steelworks and its specificity in case of a real action – says Robert Gonera, Fire Protection and Gas Rescue Inspector at the Steelworks. – We, thanks to the exercises, which turned out very well, have conclusions concerning the improvement of some safety elements at the Steelworks and corrective actions for the future.
This year, due to the threat of the COVID-19 epidemic, attempts were made to limit the contact of firefighters with the steelworkers. Therefore, a dispatch area and a painting line were chosen as an exercise area, where there are fewer workers and they stay relatively far apart.
In addition to the simulated fire on the painting line, the possibilities of firefighting from a ladder running under the roof of a pipeline with coke-oven gas above it were also checked. The test was positive, and the firefighters assessed that the conditions for putting out a possible fire in this area and protecting the gas pipeline against fire are good.
Firefighters from all four municipal Rescue and Firefighting Units of the National Fire Service and the Central School of the National Fire Service, as well as – for the first time – the Voluntary Fire Service units of Błeszno and Olsztyn participated in the action. They are included in the rescue and fire-fighting system and, as they are located closest to Huta Częstochowa, could be reached the fastest in case of real danger. Apart from the fires, the firefighters’ interventions may be related to e.g. flooding of the underground storeys of WBG.
The Steelworks Department of OSH and Environmental Protection also used the maneuvers to check internal procedures. Even before the arrival of the firefighters, exercises were conducted with the participation of metallurgists and trained rescue and firefighting crews operating in the Steelworks. Their scenario was a kind of prologue for professional firefighters.
At the beginning, the simulated fire was “noticed” by the workers employed directly at the painting line, they made an attempt to extinguish it with their handy equipment and – according to the procedures – notified the shift dispatcher-director. He alerted the rescue teams. One of them was responsible for fighting the fire and the other for shutting down the equipment, cutting off the power and securing the fire area. At the same time the dispatcher informed the management of the steelworks about the danger and called the fire department.
– Internal procedures worked well. The dispatcher correctly informed the decision-makers, managed the communication between the teams and coordinated the actions – says Robert Gonera. He emphasizes a very high level of commitment, correct management of the metallurgical firefighting crews, and then exemplary passing on all the information to the firefighters and directing the action by Dariusz Brożyński – master of the hot finishing plant, and Tomasz Leśniewski – host of the painting line area. Thanks to this, all the tasks provided for in the exercise scenario were realized and fulfilled their role.