The Corpus Christi and surrounding areas are experiencing an industrial boom, with several new projects in the works. With that growth comes the need for response services tailored to handle industrial emergencies.
The Refinery Terminal Fire Company, a global company, has branches which fill that need; but it does more than just fight fires. It provides a range of elite services.
"What sets us apart,” said RTFC Training Captain Ruben Cortez, “is not only do we specialize in the fire side, but we're all hazmat technicians; confined-space technicians; high-angle rescue technicians; trench-rescue technicians, etc."
It doesn't receive any tax money or government funding, said RTFC assistant fire chief Riley Maxson, and is completely funded by its 24 member-companies.
"RTFC is the largest nonprofit industrial fire-fighting company in the nation,” Maxson said. “And our primary objective is to respond to emergencies throughout the industrial area for our member companies."
RTFC has been responding to industrial emergencies all over the world since 1948, and covers 70 different industrial sites, including several in the Coastal Bend. For those members, RTFC’s location is key -- it allows response teams to react to an industrial emergency within minutes.
Corpus Christi’s branch is located along “Refinery Row,” on Up River Road, allowing it to respond with full-resource availability to members within a 30-miles radius. It can service other member-sites as far as 100 miles away. The type of call determines which resources are allocated, but thanks to its rigorous training, personnel is able to handle any emergency call that comes in.
"RTFC actually brings specialized equipment and specialized training, and we have a large volume of trained personnel,” Maxson said. “So we can respond with HazMat technicians, industrial fire fighters, as well as all the specialty equipment to mitigate any hazard or incident at the industrial sites."
RTFC is not only well-equipped -- it's well-manned. RTFC emergency responders go through a rigorous 21-week recruit school at a state-of-the-art training academy. Training includes live fires, hazardous material, and rescue, which covers several different real-life scenarios.
"We got our structure building, we have an OSHA prop we used for confined space rescues,” Cortez said. “We also go to the Lexington and do confined rescue training there as well.”
A recent graduating class adds 22 new cadets who are ready to serve. The company undergoes several third-party audits to ensure it meets compliance and regulation standards.