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Russell Lowe, Fire Chief and Safety Supervisor

The CHS (formerly Cenex) Refinery in Laurel, MT, processes over 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day to produce gasoline, diesel, asphalt, and other products for customers throughout the upper northwest, mid-west and plains states. As in any large refinery, safety is an important concern for all areas of operation.

Russell Lowe is the fire chief and safety supervisor for the refinery and has been involved with several recent upgrades to the fire protection system. One upgrade involved the installation of Akron Brass Genesis hydraulic monitors on 30-foot towers to protect pumps and other key components. “The remote-controlled monitors on elevated towers give us much better coverage than we could achieve with ground monitors,” notes Lowe, “and they allow us to utilize better fire protection capability in operating units with fewer personnel.” Currently, the refinery has installed three Akron Brass Genesis monitors with 1,000 gpm nozzles and is purchasing several more.

Akron monitors also play a key role in protecting other parts of the plant. In one area, hydrofluoric acid is transferred through pipes to a process unit. To protect against accidental leaks of this toxic material, the refinery uses seven Akron Brass Storm electric monitors equipped with 2,000 gpm nozzles. The monitors can be remotely aimed and actuated to deliver a smothering water fog to mitigate any acid vapor that reaches the atmosphere. “This is a great system that we can use to trap accidental releases in the HF unit and not allow them to spread outside the refinery. We have the potential to spray a fog pattern at 6,000 gpm or more to trap any leaks. That’s a lot of water,” says Lowe.

“We hope we never have to use our protection systems,” notes Lowe, “but we are pleased with the Akron monitors and rely on them to perform if we need them.”

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