Feature Story
Raining fire prop

Keyera Corporation is donating an overhead fin fan cooler to Lakeland College Emergency Training Centre ( LC ETC), and has asked to have input in the design and construction of the structure that holds the cooler. Most industrial production or petrochemical companies have these units, so the donation will expand LC ETC's capacity to provide industrial clients with safe yet realistic training fires.

Keyera (Alberta Envirofuels Facility) is a midstream business that gathers and processes natural gas liquids (NGLs), then transports, stores, and provides them to key markets across North America. The Alberta Envirofuels facility produces IsoOctane, an additive used in gasoline.

A fin fan overhead cooler is an air cooled heat exchanger made up of a series of metal tubes. Natural gas liquids are piped into the tubes for cooling so they can be further processed. The overhead cooler sits high in the air on an open structure with a large electric fan above or below it. Cooling works on the same principle as the radiator in your vehicle: high velocity air passes the many tubes and fins.

For a variety of reasons, the cooling tubes can split or rupture, then release gas as a vapour or a fluid. Firefighters can use hand lines or a large stationary nozzle to apply a water fog to a vapour release. A fluid release must be contained by using existing or temporary means, diking, foam, or valving off.

Given the extreme product temperatures, a release can also spontaneously ignite the moment it comes into contact with air. If it's liquid release that ignites, firefighting the fire from below the cooler tubes poses a number of problems, such as fighting a fire that is raining down on you.

The objective of this prop would be twofold:

  1. Vapour or fluid release: Understand the dangers of the product being released, personal protection equipment (PPE) needed, and create an efficient strategy for vapour suppression or fluid containment, while keeping in mind workplace safety, community, and the environment.

  2. Fire caused by fluid release: Understand the products of combustion, firefighting strategies and dangers, and PPE needed, while keeping in mind workplace safety, community, and environment.

As the largest of its kind in the gas industry, Keyera has a reputation for operating complex energy processing facilities safely and responsibly. Their fire crews have often trained for other operations at LC ETC. Now, Keyera has offered input on the design and fabrication of the new structure on the college's training ground.

Kirk McInroy, manager of technical Services is excited about the proposed addition to LC ETC. "We take pride in building training props for safe yet realistic training fires. With this new one, firefighters will be responding to an overhead industrial incident where the fire might be dripping down onto them. So ,it's a great advantage that Keyera wants to collaborate on the design and fabrication of the structure."

Building the overhead cooling prop is expected to be completed in the next one to two years.

(Photo courtesy of Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service)