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Duksan Electera

Posted on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at 9:14 am

From staff reports

On Tuesday, morning the City of Shelbyville Fire Department, in conjunction with the Bedford County Emergency Management Agency, held a 231 North Safety Summit to discuss the organization needs for emergency response planning such as evacuations due to a business or organization’s location along Highway 231 North in Shelbyville. The meeting was held this morning  at the old Shelbyville Central High School building. Look for more coverage on Bedford County Post’s Facebook, web and print editions.

Shelbyville Fire Chief Matt Doak sent a letter to Mary Beth Gribble, Interim Assistant Commissioner-Fire Prevention for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Christopher Bainbridge, Director of the Codes Enforcement Section – Fire Prevention in the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Philip Cameron, Plans Examiner Manager in the Codes Enforcement Section-Fire Prevention in the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

With the Duksan Electera plant on Frank Martin Road scheduled to open this summer Doak expressed numerous concerns in the letter involving both the interior and exterior fire suppression/sprinkler systems that the City of Shelbyville formally requests assistance from the State Fire Marshal’s Office going forward.

Some of the concerns are:


  1. The overall construction of the facility so far has had a number of alterations from the original plans submitted to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, including a reduction in the size of the water storage tank from 300,000 gallons to 100,000 gallons. Furthermore, the discovery that due to Department of Transportation requirements for the use of twin axle trailers, the originally designed encapsulated foam system used at the point of product loading into single axle trailers will be rendered inefficient or useless for fire prevention purposes.


  1. No stamped engineered plans for the interior fire suppression/sprinkler systems have been received by the City’s Building and Codes Department for review.


  1. The exterior fire suppression systems installation has been altered from received plans, including a meter pit and size reduced from 10 to 8, and an inadequate double-check valve backflow device creating a potential for cross-contamination to the water supply. According to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation regulations for a Fire System Classification 6, this system should require a Reduced Pressure (RP) Backflow Prevention Device.


  1. Water supply from Bedford County Utility District (BCUD) appears insufficient at this time from what was originally reported. On July 6, 2022, BCUD issued a letter to Duksan’s engineering firm, Gresham Smith, reporting the results of a flow test on Hydrant #442 of approximately 1030 gallons a minute, static pressure being 46 psi with a residual pressure of 42 psi. (See letter enclosed.) On May 6, 2024, BCUD Engineer Buddy Koonce issued an email to John Freeman, Water Systems Engineer for Shelbyville Power, Water & Sewerage (SPWSS”) stating that BCUD cannot guarantee the ability to provide 339,600 gallons of water over a 2-hour period which is what the designed sprinkler system is based upon. Mr. Freeman’s hydrant testing on May 15, 2024 resulted in a water flow of 795 gallons per minute, static pressure of 39 psi with a residual pressure of 22.5 psi.


  1. There is uncertainty surrounding the monitoring of the fire suppression/sprinkler systems during downtime as well as what are the emergency response plans due to proposed changes in operations. Original plans called for Duksan to have its own Hazmat Team and Fire Brigade, which would be on site round the clock to respond to emergencies.


The City’s safety personnel have since been informed that due to the   reduction in the number of employees and shifts (a maximum of 30 employees on one (1) eight-hour shift per day), there will be no such response teams on site.


According to Doak’s letter, the City requests that the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) require Duksan Electera to submit to a new set of registered architect and engineer designed plans and specifications which undergo formal review and approval within your office. Without this, various members of the City of Shelbyville staff will not be in a position to sign-off on the completed construction of this facility, leaving the City unable to issue a Certificate of Occupancy for operations to begin.


He added, “The City further requests that the SFMO ask for and receive an updated chemical and substance list from Duksan. Based upon what had been previously provided, it appears that in case of a fire at the facility, evacuations will be required in at least a half-mile radius. At this time the following high-occupancy institutions and businesses are within that distance:  Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital, the Bedford County Justice Center and Court system, the Shelbyville Municipal Airport, Uncle Nearest Distillery, Walmart Distribution Center, Aludyne US, LLC, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology currently under construction, and eventually the Aerospace Department of Middle Tennessee State University when it relocates to the Shelbyville Municipal Airport.

Duksan sent a comment in anticipation of the meeting

“We and our partners at Gresham Smith, Turner Construction, and Performance Design Tech remain committed to quality, safety, and being good citizens and neighbors in the Shelbyville community. We are grateful for the opportunity to address these concerns with the public, and we look forward to sharing other relevant updates and recent efforts during the public safety meeting on the 11th,” said Moonil Cheon, spokesperson for Duksan Electera America, Inc.