4 thoughts on “ICI Fire Training, Billingham Reach

  1. Everyone who worked on Maintenance went through e yearly fire drill including the Office Girls. We would gather a mixed crowd at the fire training area and would be shown how to extinguish various types of fire with different appliances. The girls would get the straw in a box and a water hose, and it would advance to the deadly chemical fire last and the Firemen would say your turn Frank they all knew who I was and it could be called pay back time.
    There was series of channels running from waist height to ground level, the chemical would be poured at the top and it was my job to extinguished the fire before it reached ground level and spread, speed and knowing which extinguisher helped as they would mix them up. If I was being too successful they would craftily relight the chemical behind me and I had to move fast.
    It was a needed exercise because my Heavy Fabrication men used flame cutters and Welding gear fires were part of job and we had quite a few in my time though we usually managed to put them out owing to the good training we got. I took it in good part and we all learned from it including the trained Firemen and we would get a pass for the next twelve months. We also did a yearly gas training period, ICI were good at training.
    That is the Reach Jetty, the danger there was connecting and disconnecting the fuel pipes to the Boats, electrical sparks could be easily made and there was always vapour fumes.


    • Went to fire training at ICI many times myself Frank, during my time at Steam Reform plant. We all had a go in turn to put a fire out with the appropriate fire extinguisher, but often as not, it was still alight when the extinguisher was empty, although not with the 150 pound dry powder, but that made a hell of a mess if you took too long to extinguish the fire. When Steam reform / no 1 methanol shut in 1986, I transferred to Engineering plastics on the South site, and as far as I can remember, only had a couple of fire training exercises over the next five years, whereas at Steam Reform, we went to both Gas and fire training every year.


      • David my Son Michael worked on the Steam reform Plants for years and when they closed down he went to Cyanide South Works for the rest of his time, he took early retirement and now lives in France.
        He told me the training for the Cyanide plant was very strict, they also did some of the basic maintenance so for that got a lot of extra training, changing valves and pipe work meant contact with the product.
        My only contact with that plant was taking a crew in to fit some steelwork I had to be there for safety reasons. We got a two hour lecture, had to strip then go into another room and put on all the clothes the plant provided, the lads could not take their own tool bags in then we reversed the process to get back out we all got stuck in (do not tell the union but me as well) to get it finished and escape.
        I thought the Army were hot on training but ICI came a close second, I did many in-house training courses and was even sent back to Middlesbrough University for 26 weeks.
        I personally blessed the training as we had three explosions, two on Steam Reform and several fires one serious one on Steam Reform where myself and the crew had to walk along pipe work to the pipe bridge to escape. The extensive training always clicked in and worked for us though there were some bad events with casualties.


  2. This looks like Billingham Reach Jetty, which services the associated terminal. “Under ICI the main business of the terminal was the export of methanol and the import of raw materials for the manufacture of acrylics.”

    So I guess this could be training to deal with a chemical incident?


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