Special Aircraft Rescue Fire Truck Helps Fight Oil Fire in Farmington Hills
(Farmington Hills Fire Dept, July 21, 2020)
Farmington Hills, MI – Shortly after 4 p.m. on July 17, the Farmington Hills Fire Department was called out to Specialty Steel at 31610 Eight Mile Road, where close to 500 gallons of oil was burning in a large steel treating furnace. Over 20 firefighters from all five Farmington Hills fire stations responded and attempted to extinguish the fire using several methods. Since using water on oil fires is extremely dangerous, dry chemical fire extinguishers were successfully used, but the small number available was quickly depleted.
Quick-thinking command staff put in a request to the Detroit Metro Airport Fire Department for an Aircraft Rescue Fire Truck. This specialty fire apparatus carries several thousand gallons of water and firefighting foam. But most importantly, it also carries 500 pounds of Purple-K, a dry chemical that is highly effective in fighting oil fires.
Shortly after Truck #7 of the Metro Airport firefighting fleet arrived, a team of firefighters from both departments applied Purple-K into the oil vat and rapidly extinguished the fire. “This was an excellent example of the importance of mutual aid, where Fire Departments help each other across jurisdictional boundaries,” said Farmington Hills Fire Chief Jon Unruh. “The emergency exceeded our local resources, so we were extremely grateful for the assistance from our mutual aid partners at the Metro Airport Fire Department with their specialty firefighting equipment.”
Chief Unruh added that having different types of specialty equipment isn’t financially feasible for each community. Shared resources from mutual aid partners have been used in incidents including hazardous materials spills, trench rescues, and structural collapse scenes. The Farmington Hills Fire Department belongs to three mutual aid groups including the Western Wayne Fire Department Association, and OAKWAY and West Oakland Mutual Aid, both in Oakland County.
Due to the quick response, damage was contained to a small portion of the facility and the fire was fully extinguished just after 6 p.m. The subsequent investigation determined that a power outage in the area had contributed to the malfunctioning of the steel furnace. Fortunately, there were no injuries to any Specialty Steel employees or firefighters from the Farmington Hills or Detroit Metro Airport Fire Departments.