Colonial Pipeline donates foam trailer to Pelham Fire Department

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham Fire Department will be better prepared in the event of an incident at the Colonial Pipeline tank farm off Shelby County 52 after the City Council approved a truck and fire suppression system donation from the company.

During its April 23 meeting, the council voted unanimously to accept from Colonial Pipeline the donation of a four-wheel-drive 2003 Ford F-250 pickup truck valued at $6,705, a new 16-foot utility trailer valued at $37,962 and 13 260-gallon totes of fire suppression foam valued at $130,000 to keep at a Pelham fire station.

Together, the donated items will allow the Pelham Fire Department to quickly mobilize and respond to an incident at the tank farm or anywhere else in the area, said Fire Chief Danny Ray.

“The foam trailer is portable enough that we can take it anywhere we need it,” Ray said, noting Pelham provides HAZMAT response for all of Shelby County.

Two of the 260-gallon totes of fire suppression foam have been used to fill a fire response tank at the tank farm, one is being carried on the donated trailer and 10 are in storage at the Hoover Public Safety Complex on Valleydale Road.

The donation came several months after Colonial Pipeline purchased and installed a four-connector fire hose manifold on the southern end of the tank farm.

Ray said the pipeline company approached the Pelham Fire Department and discussed ways to beef up the tank farm’s fire protection after lighting caused a large fire at a similar tank farm in North Carolina.

The large tanks at the Pelham tank farm contain several types of fuels, such as diesel, kerosene, jet fuel and diesel fuel. Ray said water is not enough to extinguish a fire fueled by those types of materials.

“Typically, you just use water to cool the adjacent tanks to keep them from catching fire while you prepare the foam,” Ray said. “When you mix water and oil, that oil is going to float on top of the water. Water just won’t put it out.”