West, TX — The State Fire Marshal's Office released a 55-page, Firefighter Fatality Investigation report pertaining to the West Fertilizer Plant explosion.
The report does not fault the firefighters and commends them for their bravery. Instead the investigation found that the West Volunteer Fire Department was not properly equipped to handle the situation.
The report states, "The lack of adherence to nationally recognized consensus standards and safety practices for the fire department exposed firefighters to excessive risks and failed to remove them from a critically dangerous situation. The strategy and tactics utilized by the west volunteer fire department were not appropriate for the rapidly developing and extremely volatile situation, and exposed the firefighters to extreme risks."
"The West VFD was not trained or equipped to conduct an operation of this complexity, involving a large commercial occupancy filled with hazardous materials that possess explosive properties."
One of those explosive materials found was, ammonium nitrate. An estimated 20-30 tons of the chemical was stored in bins along the west wall.
"Exemplar Material Safety Data Sheets for ammonium nitrate reference the material as "unstable" under high temperature and when exposed to fire and incompatible materials or confinement."
The findings also conclude that the firefighters had few resources with limited water supply. The report then lists measures that could have been taken to prevent the situation that happened on April 17th, 2013.
To read the Firefighter Fatality Investigation report in its entirety click on the link: http://www.tdi.texas.gov/reports/fire/documents/fmloddwest.pdf