Tuesday, 11. November 2014
Göttingen district coordinates external emergency forces
Emergency management exercise by Otto Bock Schaumstoffwerke GmbH
"Every second counts in case of an emergency," explains Karl-Heinz Thiele, CEO of Otto Bock Schaumstoffwerke GmbH. With the emergency management exercise on 14 November, Ottobock verified that processes run seamlessly within information and rescue chain in case a foam block should ignite. This scenario is based on the internal operational alarm and hazard control plan (BAGAP) and the external emergency plan, which was prepared by the Göttingen district as the emergency management authority responsible for the chemical company.
Toluene diisocyanate is an important active ingredient in the production of synthetic materials. Ottobock stores more than one hundred tons of it in chemical tanks on the Brandenburger Straße in Duderstadt. Leaks during goods receiving and the formation of smoke gas clouds in case of a fire are the major potential hazards. The company is therefore classified as an industrial operation and, according to Section 10a of the Lower Saxony Emergency Management Law, the Göttingen district is responsible for hazard control.
When the alarm sounds on 14 November at 1:15 pm, a reporting chain clearly defined by the internal operational alarm and hazard control plan is triggered at Ottobock: First company management is informed, the rack in question is moved to the safety position and the temperature sensor is checked. Then the sirens start wailing and the fire alarm alerts the plant fire brigade and the Duderstadt volunteer fire brigade. Representatives of company management inform the applicable authorities by fax from the gate and check the responses.
The plant fire brigade reaches the hazard area after five minutes. That is when the simulation of a flashover begins, with the ignition of a block, triggering the deluge sprinkler system and the extensive spreading of smoke. In a situation update, the plant fire brigade reports a large-scale industrial fire with a sizeable cloud of smoke. A few minutes after the alarm sounds, the forces of the Duderstadt volunteer fire brigade arrive. At the next alarm level, operation control gets the fire brigade control centre in Göttingen involved. The external emergency plan of the Göttingen district takes effect and the second phase begins:
Additional units are alerted. Fire brigades, rescue services, the disaster relief organisation, various public authorities and civil defence organisations are activated and a variety of safety precautions are initiated. Next to managing the acute incident, preventive protection of the population in the area is now the objective. The Göttingen district as the emergency management authority ensures that all of the measures are purposeful and coordinated.
Otto Bock Schaumstoffwerke GmbH has more than 60 years of experience with handling its chemicals and the corresponding facilities. The operation including all secondary installations is subject to the statutory order on hazardous incidents according to the Federal Immission Protection Act. Ottobock has equipped all buildings and plant components with fully automated fire detection, fire alarm and extinguishing systems for hazard prevention.
"Fortunately, we have not had any major incidents to date. However, we can never exclude a certain residual risk, even with the best possible safety precautions. In order to prepare us for an emergency and minimise damage, we put our operational alarm and hazard control plan to the test regularly by carrying out an emergency management exercise in this form every three years," explains Karl-Heinz Thiele.