At RTFC, Your Safety is Their Business

In April 2013, a warehouse of ammonium nitrate exploded at the West Fertilizer Company. Fifteen people were killed, and more than 160 were injured. The tragedy garnered media headlines across the country, sparked ammonium nitrate facility inspections, and inspired lawmakers to tighten the regulations around how this volatile compound is stored.

The West explosion represents Texas’ most recent high-profile brush with ammonium nitrate, but it was not our first.

In 1947, a French ship carrying ammonium nitrate fertilizer blew up in the deep water port of Texas City. The explosion caused a chain reaction of fires, killing 576 people and injuring more than 4,000, according to the Texas Almanac.

True to the resiliency that epitomizes Lone Star State culture, Texas City businesses remained, rebuilt and expanded. To help ensure their safety, Refinery Terminal Fire Company (RTFC) was born.

RTFC is a non-profit emergency response organization headquartered in Corpus Christi. It provides emergency response services for the chemical and refinery industries. Industrial fire protection, prevention, inspection, hazard mitigation, training, in-plant services and technical support are all in a day’s work for RTFC employees.

That’s an impressive laundry list of services, but RTFC’s website offers a more succinct explanation of its mission: “Your safety is our business.”

RTFC’s mantra extends to its employees, as well.

“If I don’t send my firefighters home safely to their families the same way they came to work, I’m not doing my job,” said Callen Hight, assistant fire chief/safety officer.

Hight is indeed doing his job, and he’s doing it well. RTFC has logged 12 years without a lost-time injury. That equates to 5 million hours spent fighting fires, cleaning up hazardous materials and rescuing workers from dangerous confined spaces.

This fall, Texas Mutual was honored to recognize RTFC with our annual platinum safety partner award. Hight and his team dedicate the resources necessary to keeping employees safe and on the job. We thank them for sharing our vision of a safer Texas.

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