Volume 2 Number 12
March 21, 2005




Organized under the leadership of Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, members of Florida’s fire service responsible for fire code enforcement and emergency response attended a seminar held on March 2, 2005, at the Florida State Fire College. The seminar detailed the impact that the “hydrogen economy” will have on local and state agencies.

The session featured national experts on hydrogen-related subjects from BP Petroleum, Ford Motor Company, Plug Power (a fuel cell manufacturer), Stuart Energy, ChevronTexaco, Air Products, and NASA. Additionally, representatives from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the state agency with responsibility for the hydrogen initiative, outlined the state program.  Jim Goodloe, Bureau Chief of Fire Prevention for the Division of State Fire Marshal, discussed statewide fire-code issues related to this subject.  

Florida’s Hydrogen initiative, known as “H2 Florida”, is a statewide program to accelerate the commercialization of hydrogen technologies. H2 Florida was launched to spur investment in Florida’s economy, increase economic security, reduce reliance on foreign oil and maintain Florida’s clean air.  H2 Florida also partners the state of Florida with industry, local governments and universities to showcase hydrogen technologies and educate consumers on the newest hi-tech approach to clean, sustainable energy.

The impact on the Florida fire service is clearly apparent. The unique properties of hydrogen present many new challenges. Fire codes governing the construction of hydrogen fueling stations, stationary fuel cell sites, and hydrogen storage facilities must be promulgated by the State Fire Marshal, incorporated into the Florida Fire Prevention Code, and ultimately enforced by local fire officials. Additionally, fire service (and other) response agencies must be trained to respond to incidents involving these facilities, and to incidents involving hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

This session was just the first of many that will be organized in the future. The State Fire Marshal will be working with DEP and other organizations represented at the seminar to develop a standardized curriculum on emergency response for fire service agencies, and intends to conduct "train-the-trainer" sessions to ensure widespread offerings of the program.  Additionally, training programs on portions of the fire code related to hydrogen will be forthcoming.

As this moves forward, information on State Fire Marshal initiatives will be distributed to all fire service agencies. For additional information on “H2 Florida”, visit the DEP website: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/energy/fla_energy/hydrogen.htm#goals .

Okeechobee County's historic courthouse, built in 1925, sits next to the county's new state-of-the-art courthouse scheduled to open this spring.