Refining Safety

The 4th annual Industrial Fire, Safety & Security show convenes in Houston this month.

For the fourth year in a row, EH&S, hazmat, fire, security, rescue, safety, and medical professionals from across the country will meet in Texas to heat up the house for the annual Industrial Fire, Safety & Security conference and exhibition. For the second consecutive year, that “house” will be Houston’s Reliant Center, and organizers say that when the three-day event convenes Feb. 4, they will have amassed the largest turnout in IFSS’s short history.

More than 2,000 emergency response and security professionals attended last year’s event at the site, and this year, according to Sara Lowery, IFSS sales manager for Trade- Fair Group, at least 2,600 are expected. “The growth for this show has been huge, especially considering how new it is,” she said. The reason? “There’s really no show out there that is covering these issues for the petrochemical plants and oil refineries, and this is specifically for them. It’s the reason we’ll always keep the show in the Houston area, because we want to it to be close to the plants.”

Geared toward emergency management at all levels in industrial and energy marketplaces, IFSS features dozens of sessions and expert speakers; a number of half-, full-, and multiple-day hands-on training workshops; and competitive, team-building demonstrations on the exhibit floor.The theme for this year’s event is “Preparing for Tomorrow’s Emergencies in Today’s World.”

In lieu of a keynote address, the first day of the conference (Feb. 4) will feature four three-hour “Super Sessions” presented by industry specialists. “Power Generation Hazards”will focus on the wide range of disaster threats to which industrial facilities are exposed and what precautions attendees can apply to their sites to increase safety.“Deter, Detect, and Delay”will cover security topics ranging from fencing and perimeter control to security technology integration. “Protective Gear—The Hottest Trend”will examine the pros and cons of various types of materials used in turnout gear. And “Security Regulations: The Latest Update & Working Example,” will analyze regional security issues affecting the Port ofHouston and varying security regulations enveloping the industry as a whole.

Wednesday, Feb. 4:
• 3-6 p.m., “Some Like It Hot” Reception on Exhibit Floor
• 5-6 p.m., Products on Parade

Thursday, Feb. 5:
• 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Exhibit Floor open
• Noon-1:30 p.m., Lunch on Exhibit Floor
• Noon-5 p.m., Ultimate Challenge Competitions/Demos

Friday, Feb. 6:
• 9 a.m.-noon, Exhibit Floor open
• 9-11 a.m., Ultimate Challenge Competitions/Demos

Ike Insight
All attendees, exhibitors, and visitors are invited to attend the General Session on Feb. 5 from 8 to 10 a.m. Titled “Every Disaster is Different: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Ike,” the panel presentation will revisit the early hours of Sept. 13, 2008, when Ike struck the Texas coast, leaving hundreds of miles of inland devastated and adversely impacting the petrochemical industry, energy and power service providers, and the marine transportation system. Moderators LCDR Joseph Leonard, Jr., chief of Planning and Readiness for the USCG Houston-Galveston Sector, and Bob Royall, Jr., chief of Emergency Operations for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, will lead the discussion about the various response and recovery efforts surrounding the disaster.Expected panelists include Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Houston Mayor Bill White, and Chief Jack Colley of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Governor’s Division of Emergency Management, in addition to other representatives of the industry’s fire, safety, and security sectors.

Lowery said the “lessons learned” structure of the Ike presentation helps differentiate IFSS from other tradeshows and is part of the show’s appeal for attendees.“Having the moderators and panelists sharing these stories is really what IFSS is about,”she says.“It’s getting the information out there to everyone, letting them know here’s what we went through, and here’s what we learned. Whether it’s Hurricane Ike or any disaster or emergency response situation, you can always learn a lesson, and at IFSS we share that information.”

The lesson sharing extends to the conference seminars, which are grouped in four tracks: Prevention (e.g., “Preparing for Bomb Threats”), Preparedness (“Pre- Planning for High Hazard Work”), Response & Recovery (“Bad Guy Inside— What Do You Do?”), and The Bigger Picture (“Psychological Emergencies: Employees & Responders”).

As with previous IFSS gatherings, attendees can earn TCLEOSE credits and COC points. On the final day of the show, a Fire Chiefs Roundtable will again be held (Feb. 6, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.).And the popular Products on Parade and Ultimate Challenge Competitions will return to the exhibit floor, where some 340 to 350 exhibitors are on tap to show and share their emergency response wares. New this year to IFSS during exhibit floor hours is the addition of a Career Fair, showcasing specific jobs in the industry; Lowery encourages attendees to bring resumes.

TEEX, the Texas Engineering Extension Service, is the show’s chief sponsor. For more information, including a downloadable final program, visit www.ifss

This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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