IIAR Partners with ASTI on First 30 Minutes

The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration is partnering once again with the Ammonia Safety Training Institute, ASTI, in its continuing effort to clearly define how to address the first 30 minutes of a response to an emergency involving ammonia, IIAR said.

The working title for the project is “A Practitioner’s Approach to Emergency Operational Engagement.” It will include training materials produced for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Administration, focusing on the development of a standardized Emergency Action Plan (EAP) along with a regional two-day training program.

The training program will be designed to educate the “three legs” of the EAP tripod: the ammonia refrigeration industry; public safety emergency responders; and the local, state and federal governmental oversight. Currently, there are plans for six training program sessions that will run until June 30, 2017. The first IIAR-ASTI joint training meeting is scheduled in the Denver region in November 2016.

An additional three regions will be scheduled in the first half of 2017 and IIAR said it hopes to expand the program in the 2017 – 2018 IIAR fiscal year.

In 2013, IIAR and the American Safety Training Institute, ASTI, teamed up to develop a training video and workbook called “Module 5 — Making the First 30 Minutes of Emergency Response Count.”

“The 2013 video was geared around the key points concerning the first 30 minutes. Now we’re looking at what the guidelines or standards should be regarding best management practices, which will lead to the development of recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices,” said Gary Smith, president of ASTI. “We’ve done that in a general sense already by using logic regarding the response effort. But now we will develop RAGAGEP for an ammonia-specific emergency that can be referenced by public safety officials, the government and the industry as to what the challenges are in the first 30 minutes. “

Once we transition into RAGAGEP we will set national policy on what the requirements will be for the first 30 minutes of the emergency response and what the EAP will have in it regarding training, public safety, the planned response and the government expectations,” he said.

ASTI and IIAR are working with OSHA and EPA so that these changes could then be used by private and public safety responders to demonstrate how they can address emergencies without being fully certified emergency response technicians. Smith said that future RAGAGEP guidelines will provide consistency and a starting point for how an individual facility operates and engages in the event of an emergency.

A series of safety days are being held this year to provide training, obtain feedback and gain a deeper understanding of current policies. “It’s an opportunity to enhance the logic behind our best management practices and to learn what all the different players think of the concepts we’re putting out there,” Smith says.

As part of the IIAR’s regulatory outreach program, the project will reach out to the state and local firstresponder community, and will focus on the expectations from OSHA and EPA regional inspectors.

The first day of the regional training program will focus on basic ammonia refrigeration safety standards and guidelines as well as the basic ammonia closed loop system and other important regulatory issues facing the industry. The second day will be geared toward specific discussions that will outline the proposed RAGAGEP for early response to a release and the government expectations.

“We will cover the rationale and the work that is behind developing this proposed early response management standard so that people understand the logic of it,” Smith said. “Right now there is not a real standard, so we’re creating it. We have needed a national standard that gives first responders a better idea of the actions they should take to operationally engage life-saving procedures by rapidentry rescue, and one that supports emergency shutdown operations that are more than just pushing a button and running.”

Smith said the project is a major step forward for the ammonia refrigeration industry in addressing the immediate safety challenges during the first 30 minutes of an ammonia incident and in setting the table for handling the aftermath.

“We’ve been stuck in the mud in regards to our ability to address the first 30 minutes of any emergency involving ammonia,” he said. “Right now the generally applied rules that government, public safety and the industry have to live by are across-the-board hazmat-related requirements that really put lots of limits on what you can do to address the first 30 minutes challenge. With this new program development we will now have guidelines or standards on a specific chemical, that being ammonia, which then gives us more specific-related things we can do to address those issues. That will help us to give emergency action plan responders more options on what they can do based on standard operating procedures.”