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Major exercise tests Manx Petroleums’ fire prevention systems 20 September 2007

Members of the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service assisted in the latest comprehensive test of new fire prevention and suppression systems at Manx Petroleums’ depot on Battery Pier, Douglas, this morning (Wednesday).

More than £500,000 has been invested by the Shell all products distributor since 2004 and individual sections have been previously tested but this morning a major incident exercise was carried out with full co-operation between the IoM Fire and Rescue Service, the Health and Safety Inspectorate and other agencies.

Utilising the fixed installations at Manx Petroleums and the water pumping system at the Battery Pier, supplemented by equipment and personnel provided by the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service, a comprehensive range of scenarios was successfully simulated during the exercise.

Divisional Officer Allen Bell, Head of Operations at Fire Service HQ, observed the exercise. He said:

‘The exercise involved using up to 9,000 litres of water per minute to generate approximately three quarters of a million litres of ‘finished foam’. In the event of a fire in the fuel tanks or a spillage of fuel in the tank bunds, the foam would be directed into the tanks and/or bunds and will form a blanket, suppressing vapour and extinguishing any fire. The latest joint exercise has provided invaluable experience to fire service personnel and the terminal staff, and will be repeated on a regular basis.’

Richard Walker, Manx Petroleums Distribution Manager, was pleased with the result of the test. He commented:

‘Work to improve our fire suppression and prevention systems has been undertaken in consultation with the Fire Service, our own Health and Safety Manager Peter Quirk and the Health and Safety Inspectorate. It has included stabilising the rock face to prevent falling rock breaching the tanks, and the commissioning of water and foam systems which provide 24-hour protection. The system can be activated by vapour or leaking fuel and the appropriate features of the system can be triggered automatically or under supervision. It aims to make the depot safer for the benefit of our staff and the public.
‘Today’s major incident exercise proved that the investment has brought our fixed protection system up to an extremely high standard and we will continue to develop and test it periodically to ensure the integrity of the system. The foam has been contained within the bunded areas, and by design will breakdown naturally, so the environmental impact will be minimal.’

Home Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle MHK said:

‘There has been a significant investment by Manx Petroleums in enhancing safety within their Douglas Depot and I was pleased to learn of the success of the combined exercise between the company, IOM Fire and Rescue, the Health and Safety Inspectorate and everyone involved with this exercise. Such inter-agency co-operation is to be commended and the public can be reassured that, in the unlikely event of an incident occurring at the depot, the latest safety systems have been installed and rigorously tested.’

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