Keeping workers, communities and factories safe is of paramount importance to BASF. So much so, that at every major production site around the world, a professionally trained and equipped firefighting crew is on standby 24/7.
BASF’s firefighting teams are comprised of dedicated emergency response professionals, and those with a range of other environment and safety expertise. They include people who have been previously been professional firefighters as well as those with specified operational, technical and chemical expertise pertinent to fire safety at chemical production sites. Whatever their background, the team plan and train relentlessly so that they are ready to help protect people and property in any emergency.
Li Zuobin is the Emergency Response Supervisor of Shanghai Chemical Industrial Park (SCIP) fire brigade – a team comprised of both BASF employees and specialty contractors. It is Shanghai’s first brigade established by an international company.
Li believes that successful firefighting in the chemical industry is due to four things: properly planned infrastructure, including a plentiful supply of water and equipment to direct it; safety-first’ factory design with fire prevention features such as integrated cut-off valves; state-of-the-art firefighting equipment; and daily physical and technical training for the whole team. Solid basic infrastructure, physical fitness and regular drills underpin successful fire fighting for any emergency.
The importance of these four elements was shown during in 2011, when a production facility at SCIP exploded and was engulfed by a large fire.
“At that time, the situation was very critical,” Li recalls, “The flames lit up the night sky. Even when we tried to approach the central point from the upwind direction we still felt the scorching heat. The accompanying squeaks of the leaking materials indicated that there was likely to be a second explosion, which may cause harm to the personnel on the spot.”
The firefighters sprang to action, using their knowledge of the facilities, their understanding of toxic, flammable and explosive materials and their training with firefighting equipment such as automatic water cannons and guns, adjusting the positions of people and equipment for optimum safety and effectiveness. Li and his colleagues fought the blaze until it was extinguished, at 4 a.m.
All BASF firefighters worldwide are trained to meet the company’s high global standards, and to meet or exceed the chemical industry’s voluntary Responsible Care initiative which strives to continuously improve the industry’s environmental protection, health and safety. BASF has been committed to the principles of Responsible Care since 1992.
“We value the health and safety of people above all else This principle is anchored in our strategy,” said Xiao Li, Director, EHS Services, BASF Greater China. “Emergency response means being prepared to respond at any time and any place, on our sites or with partners up and down the value chain. We’re deeply proud of what BASF firefighters and emergency responders do. We are working hard to raise safety standards and promote Responsible Care throughout in the Chinese chemical industry.”