Letters: September 2021 | AIChE

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Letters: September 2021


Bourbon Production Is Not Immune to Safety Incidents

In response to the August article, “The Chemistry of Bourbon,” hardly any of the chemical process industries, bourbon production included, have escaped Black Swan incidents. For the bourbon industries in Kentucky, it was the 1996 Heaven Hill fire. You can Google or YouTube it to watch extensive raw video taken from a news helicopter. Ethanol floated on the water in the brook and the fire traveled down to the distillery.

Can you tell my 40-year career was in process safety?

John Sharland, P.E.

Fellow, Society of Fire Protection Engineers

Bridgewater, MA

The author responds:

A lot has changed in recent years in Kentucky and the U.S. with respect to fire safety and bourbon barrel storage houses. Building codes have been changed that dictate distance between warehouses, as well as considerations for fire suppression. There are also considerations around containment, so that in the unlikely event of a fire or warehouse collapse, any escaping alcohol would be directed into a water reservoir and/or away from other nearby barrel storage buildings.

Pat Heist

Ferm Solutions, Inc., and Wilderness Trail Distillery

Danville, KY

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