The Smokey Truck
The oil-well control technology created by the Safety Boss Inc. of Calgary
is the result of world-renowned innovation that is deeply engrained in
Founded in Calgary in 1956, the company gained international acclaim
during the 1991 Gulf War when, during Iraqs retreat from Kuwait, they
blew up 950 oil wells, of which 732 turned into raging infernos. Firefighters moved in quickly,
but while early estimates indicated it would take years to extinguish the
fires, it took just
nine months. Of the 600 oil wells capped, 180 were by Safety Boss. Despite
being a small company compared to its American counterparts, this was the
highest number of wells capped by any company operating in the Gulf
region. As Mike Miller, CEO, said to his employees at the time, it was the "Stanley Cup" of oil well firefighting.
One important factor in their success was the Smokey fire truck. The
Smokey truck was developed after the company found their existing trucks
were inadequate during a blowout years before at Lodgepole, around 110
kilometres southwest of Edmonton. The sour-gas blowout burned 400 acres of
forest and wasnt capped for over two months. Development on the new
Smokey series started in 1983.
The new Smokey series featured a number of advantages. They were the first
oilfield trucks capable of shooting sustained, high capacity streams of
water or foam. A new multi-tank suction manifold system, high volume
discharge hose layouts and water cannons were much more efficient than
systems other companies were using. The superiority of the Smokey truck
was reflected in its cost$500,000, more than triple what other trucks
Safety Boss can fully deploy its system within an hour
of arriving at a fire. Other companies, often using explosives to put out
fires, could take up to a day to set up.
Endurance was another important factor. For this, Safety Boss relied on
equipment supplied by trusted truck and pump companies. The equipment
proved incredibly reliable. In Kuwait, three Smokey units pumped out 40
million gallons of water without breaking down.
While Safety Boss has designed the systems on the Smokey units, they have
been built by Superior Emergency Vehicles, in Red Deer. The two companies
have collaborated to make the best possible vehicles for this kind of
work, and have recently come out with the Smokey VII and VIII models.
Click here for more information
on this innovative Alberta technology.
Copyright © 2003
Heritage Community Foundation All Rights Reserved