Ensuring industrial fire safety at Neste oil refinery

The Kilpilahti industrial area is the home to the biggest oil and chemical industry hub in the Nordic countries. This impressive 5 square mile (13 square kilometer) area is the home of nine different companies that form a unified production chain from crude oil to plastics and directly employ over 3500 people. The Neste refinery in Kilpilahti includes four production lines and over 40 process units, as well as a wide tank area and the biggest port in Finland in terms of tonnage. Safety precautions in this kind of complex need to be very strict and being prepared is everything. The refinery’s industrial fire department is constantly planning, practicing and preparing for anything that could happen in the area.

It was recently the time for the old Bronto 23-2T1WT to end its 30-year career at the refinery and for a replacement to step in. The old Bronto was from 1987 and its reach and capabilities were insufficient for the modern refinery. The process started with wide investigations about the current suppliers and the available firefighting equipment. After all, this kind of safety investments are not to be taken lightly. The specific needs in the industrial area, quality requirements and the specifications needed from the equipment finally led Neste back to Bronto Skylift after competitive bidding.

“The price-quality ratio was clearly in favour of Bronto Skylift. They are a well-known brand and I have a lot of experience of their high quality from my previous career in a municipal fire brigade. For us also domestic service is a must and Bronto Skylift has a local partner nearby,” says Jommi Hyttinen, Industrial Fire Officer, Neste Oyj.

Tailor made for industrial needs

The refinery needed a firefighting unit that would be tailored to industrial needs. It had to have a very high water and foam capacity as well as an advanced foam-mixing system. The vertical and horizontal reach needed to cover most of the process area. The area has structures over 328 feet (100 meter) high, but the majority is between 100 to 165 feet (30 to 50 meters), so that was the target height. And lastly, the unit needed to be compact enough to drive around and set up at the process area that has tight twists and turns. After comprehensive studies, they chose the Bronto Skylift F56WFT, a 183-foot (56-meter) water and foam tower.

“The process was very thorough. Other possible solutions were evaluated as well, but finally the F56WFT was the most suitable one to satisfy the customer’s needs,” Jussi Alenius, Sales Manager, Bronto Skylift

The WFT-products are unique in Bronto Skylift’s product portfolio, as they are not equipped with a rescue cage, but a high-capacity water monitor(s) instead. They are especially designed for industrial firefighting where water and foam capacity is of utmost importance. Water way capacity is 1 500 gallons/minute (6 000 liters / minute) as a standard. Neste defined the minimum requirement for the fire pump to be 2 600 gallons / minute (10 000 l/m) at 145 psi (10 bar) to ensure adequate water supply. The unit is equipped with two water monitors; one at the end of the boom and one on the decking. The combined maximum water flow is well over 2 600 gallons / minute (10 000 l/m).

F56WFT water and foam tower at Neste oil refinery

F56WFT water and foam tower at Neste oil refinery

A special, very precise direct injection foam mixing system allows them to adjust the foam percentage according to the nature of the fire. Foam percentage can be from 0,5 to 3% and the foam monitor capacity is 95 gallons / minute (360 l/min). This adds up to 3 150 gallons (12 000 l) of foam solution per minute. As there are several scenarios with different types of fire, the unit also has a dry chemical powder line. The additional water outlet in the water monitor at the boom can also serve as a feeding line for a separate hose, so the unit can serve even as a 183-foot (56-meter) feeding line.

“We have several fire suppression plans in place and we used these as a guideline to define the specifications for the equipment. The F56WFT is ideal if we have a combustible leakage up high in the structures or if we need to cool down the structures from the top to bottom. In fact, the unit was intended to serve mainly in the process facilities, but it turned out to be so good and versatile that it serves us in all areas, also at the tank area and the port,” Mr. Hyttinen states.

Optional equipment for added safety

The optional equipment was also carefully chosen. Mr. Hyttinen says the most important ones in addition to the water/foam/powder system are the radio remote control, a thermal imaging camera and a Bronto Loadman. The radio remote control is a work safety matter for the firefighters, as it allows operation from a safe distance. It also improves visibility when you can move around the perimeter while operating. The thermal imaging camera gives vital information of the situation inside the structures and the Loadman helps to make sure the ground is solid enough to set up the unit.

“We have used the radio remote control and the Loadman quite a lot in our training. Especially the Loadman has helped us to pre-check certain critical spots and plan ahead where the unit could be positioned. All this helps to save time if we encounter a real fire situation,“ says Mr. Hyttinen.

With Bronto Loadman you can check the firmness of the ground

Up to now, there has not been an actual fire situation inside the refinery, but the department has supported a few neighboring municipal fire incidents. Mr. Hyttinen has almost 20 years of experience in the municipal side and has now been at Neste for 6 years. Even though the requirements for the equipment are different and the nature of the area and firefighting is very different, daily life at the department is quite similar.

“There are less real fires in the industrial side and less variety of missions, but all in all it’s quite similar. We practice a lot and are very familiar with our equipment and the area. The new Bronto is well liked and considered to be easy to use. It is an undeniable improvement to our tool box,” says Mr. Hyttinen.

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