SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A fire department in the Upstate is taking training to the next level as they prepare to respond to incidents involving petroleum.

The South Spartanburg Fire District just received a $10,000 grant to host a multi-day training event that is focused on responding to incidents involving petroleum storage facilities and trucks. It’s a training they said is desperately needed.

Petroleum is an emergency response that takes a completely different type of training.

“We’re just one breath away from something happening that could cause us to go into emergency mode to mitigate those incidents,” said Chief Chris Harvey.

When you dial 911 for any fire, District Chief Chris Harvey said his men and women are ready.

Now, with the help of Motiva Enterprises, a petroleum storage facility along Southport Road, they will be better prepared for these crude oil instances.

“A lot more water goes on to these than you would think,” stated the chief. “We’re looking at some of these tanks are millions of gallons of gasoline or diesel fuel.” 

Chief Harvey said the grant will go towards training for them and their automatic aid partners.

“In the mitigation and the techniques that are required to handle instances at petroleum storage facilities, as well as incidents with petroleum carriers, such as the trucks we see going up and down the road,” he said.

The training will take them through their entire response, start to finish.

“The roll-up, from the preparation to the actual operations of mitigating the incident, the tear down, the restoring the environment,” said Chief Harvey.

Their plan is to send their firefighters out west to the Williams Fire and Hazards Control, and bring those professionals to Spartanburg.

“With the actual event of things being on fire, they’re not as frequent as you may expect in this area, but the potential is extremely high,” he said. “With this particular corridor on Southport Road, there are multiple tank farms and storage facilities right up the road from us.”

With their regular structure fires, the district chief said they deal with the typical furnishings and wood structures, but petroleum takes many more resources.

“Large amounts of hydrocarbon-based petroleum products, that are putting off a ton of nasty byproducts,” explained Chief Harvey. “A lot of heat, harmful effects to the environment.”

With these calls, instead of hours, they’re planning for days.

“We have to prepare more for the high-risk, low frequency calls, much more than we would our bread-and-butter calls,” he said.

Chief Harvey said they plan to start the training this fall and it’s open to other fire districts in the county.