Fire

Buncefield review valuable for future response: a year on from the Buncefield Oil Depot fire, CFO Roy Wilsher reflects upon the lessons learned and highlights the 'unique' review, set up by Hertfordshire FRS which examines the fire response to ensure all learning points with local, national and international significance are recorded.(Operational Assurance)

IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT a year has passed since I received that early morning phone call on December 11, 2005 informing me that the Buncefield Oil Depot was alight. It was the start of a week that for all those involved will live in the memory for a very long time.

Having visited the site many times it always struck me just how extensive the damage was and how lucky we had been to get through the event with remarkably few serious injuries and no fatalities. The response of all the agencies and private industry partners involved was magnificent.

The 31 fire and rescue services, the oil industry firefighters and specialists, local and county council, voluntary sector, and companies such as Angus and Tescos all played their part. I will take this opportunity once again to voice my appreciation. I will also take this opportunity to say well done to all Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service personnel who responded to the challenge with immense professionalism.

Timeline

Through the pages of FIRE and numerous presentations, the overview story of Buncefield has been told but I believe it is worth a brief re-cap just to set the scene for the work that has continued in the last year. This workload has been considerable for Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue and has had knock-ons for Emergency Planning, Police, HSE, Environment Agency, Health Agencies and not least Dacorum Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council.

The explosion that occurred at just after 0600 on Sunday December 11, 2005 engulfed 20 tanks across seven acres, later spreading to just two more tanks as Fire Service action was taken to reduce spread. The fires created a massive smoke plume that rose several thousand feet. The control rooms in Hertfordshire and adjoining services received 221 '999' calls that morning as the explosion was heard across many counties and measured 2.4 on the Richter scale.

We now know from the HSE investigation that Tank 912 in Bund A started to receive unleaded motor fuel at 1900 on December 10. …

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