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DOE fire protection workshop sees record attendance

July 2, 2024

DOE workshop hosts record number of fire protection professionals

More than 125 fire chiefs and other fire protection professionals from across the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) complex attended the DOE/Energy Facility Contractors Group Fire Protection Workshop.

As reported by the U.S. DOE, this event marked the largest attendance for the annual event in recent years.

The four-day meeting, hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex, and DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM) contractor UCOR, took place at Y-12’s New Hope Center.

Erik Olds, deputy manager for the Oak Ridge Office of EM, stated: “This year’s turnout shows there’s a growing interest and awareness in the importance of safety.”

He emphasized the value of the training and shared experiences from the workshop.

Live fire demonstration with lithium-ion batteries

Participants attended a live fire demonstration involving lithium-ion batteries on the first day of the workshop, simulating an electric car fire.

The demonstration included single-cell lithium-ion batteries, a pack of batteries, and a system of batteries used in electric vehicles.

Fire protection professionals showcased the use of an electric vehicle fire blanket, which is more effective than water in extinguishing lithium fires.

Jim Arnold, Y-12 fire chief, said: “It’s been a topic of concern, what electric vehicle fires are going to do, and how they react different.”

Recognition of DOE EM sites and safety presentations

The DOE recently announced that four EM sites received honors for their contributions toward achieving a 100% zero-emissions vehicle fleet by 2035.

With the increasing number of electric cars, there is growing concern about handling lithium fires.

The workshop provided a rare opportunity to simulate these types of fires.

Additionally, the workshop featured presentations on various topics.

Elisa Baker from Los Alamos National Laboratory discussed glovebox combustible controls, while Tom Christman from Y-12 presented on “A Fire Protection Engineer’s Worst Nightmare — Fire Barriers.”

Rob Deschambeault, UCOR fire protection program manager, highlighted the collaborative effort: “We had great cooperation from our hosting partners as well as the other fire protection professionals from across the complex.”

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