Illinois Firefighters Receive Top-Notch Training in Corpus Christi

It is one of the best training facilities in the country for fighting refinery fires, and it is  right here in Corpus Christi.

The Refinery Terminal Fire Company training grounds on Carbon Plant Road is now in the process of training firefighters from all around the country.

In fact, 20 firefighters are here for the next three days. They are a response team for a pharmaceutical company located just north of Chicago, and are hoping the live fire training they receive here helps prepare them if the worst should happen.

It is the worst possible scenario a refinery can face; a fire breaks out, gasses and chemicals are leaking, and it's up to this team of firefighters to respond.

"We love it," said Nikki Grosbier of the Illinois Response Team. "If we didn't love it, we wouldn't do it, but with that comes a lot of responsibility. We're risking our lives every time."

The group of firefighters have come all the way from just north of Chicago, Ill., in order to get valuable hands-on training here at the RTFC training facility. Funded by the local refineries, the training facility has been instrumental in preparing not only firefighters here at home, but also from all over the country.

"Companies can get some of the best fire training they can anywhere else in the world right here at RTFC," said Assistant Chief Christopher Nelson of the RTFC.

It is much different from fighting a house fire. When it comes to industrial fires, you're not only dealing with the flames, but also dangerous chemicals, oil and gases.

"Our prime responsibility is readiness, so wether something happens or not, we are always prepared for what could be the worst," said Jim Foster with the Illinois Response Team. "And coming down here provides us with the knowledge and skills to maintain those types of situations that may occur within our situation."

In one scenario, the firefighters worked to push through the intense heat and flames, and then shut down a valve to stop the fuel for the fire.

"It's kind of an orchestrated dance, if you will," Nelson said. "Everyone needs to know what they are supposed to be doing at a given time. If they run into trouble, correct the problem."

"You get the team spirit working together," said Bill Cox of the Illinois Response Team. "You know the guys got your back. I'd trust every one of these guys with my life, if I had to."

Trust and teamwork are two main components the group will take back home with them once their training here is completed.


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