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News | May 22, 2017

DFSP San Pedro trains with LAFD

By Elizabeth Stoeckmann, DLA Energy Public Affairs

First responder teams practiced confined space rescue training at the Defense Logistics Agency Energy Defense Fuel Support Point San Pedro, California, April 12-14.

The Los Angeles Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue team (Task Force 85), DLA Energy DFSP San Pedro’s site manager and the contractor performed mock rescue entry drills into Valve Pit 106 and Tank 15. The hands-on urban search and rescue training provided 38 response personnel with the opportunity to learn and practice techniques to perform rescues in a confined space area.

“Performing these drills allows responders to know, based on site maps, what type of structure they will be dealing with and additionally what equipment will be required in the event of an incident,” said Doug Childers, construction manager for the contractor closing the DFSP San Pedro underground storage tanks.

A confined space has limited or restricted means of entry or exit according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Confined space includes, but is not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.

"Gaining access to real confined spaces to train in is difficult,” said Capt. Tim Werle, LAFD Station 85.

The LAFD uses a custom made technical rescue vehicle custom to allow access to confined spaces. The self-sufficient vehicle has the ability to power their own equipment and lighting; provide air and hydraulic supply for the variety of lifting, cutting and breaking tools and equipment; and carry items such as fiber optic search devices for state-of-the-art searching.

“The ability to have a controlled environment for training helps us to work on theories we have about better rescue operations,” Werle said. “The tanks at the fuel depot presented us challenges we were able to work through."

Three shifts from LAFD Fire Station 85 conducted the one day CSRT scenarios. This included:

Day 1: Location – Valve Pit 106.  Call received of person down in the bottom of a valve pit, technical rescue. Injured person (IP) condition and status unknown. Individual entry of rescue personnel to locate IP and perform extraction. Entry confined to only one rescue individual entry to assess IP status. 

Day 2/3: Location – Tank 15. Call received of person down in the bottom of fuel tank, technical rescue. IP condition and status unknown. Team entry of rescue personnel to locate IP, assess status, and perform extraction.

“The teaming of TF 85, the local contractor and DLA Energy allowed for a familiarization of personnel and open communication between the entities,” Childers said.

The drill lessons learned by rescue teams set the foundation for future missions including tethering versus non-tethering entries, as well as search patterns and rapid extraction of rescue personnel. “These techniques allow the entry teams to perform their duties with greater efficiency knowing the layout of the structures involved,” he said.

Todd Williams, DLA Energy Installation Support for Energy facility manager and on-site project manager at DFSP San Pedro, explained that sufficient radio equipment is vital for communication between first responders and the command and control cadre during the rescue.

“This will most likely be the first and last time for this type of rescue training since we are permanently closing DFSP San Pedro and all USTs and valve pits are being filled with foamcrete, thus negating any need for confined spaces,” Williams said.

"DLA and the Navy had unique facilities that were in the process of being closed and the local fire department was looking for an opportunity to conduct confined space training on such facilities,” said DLA Installation Support for Energy Installation Manager John Cummings.

“The training was successful and a good news story for all parties involved,” he said.