Leasing | Safety and Regulations | Hazard Protection | Planning

From Tragedy to Safety: The Evolution of Blast Resistant Modules

March 23rd, 2023   |  5 min. read
From Tragedy to Safety: The Evolution of Blast Resistant Modules Blog Feature

A tragedy occurred in the early spring of 2005 at a refinery in Texas City, Texas. Today marks the 17th year since a series of explosions killed 15 workers and injured nearly 200 more.

At the time, several units on the site were shut down for maintenance, and the explosion occurred when the isomerization unit was in the process of being restarted. Shutdowns and maintenance are often considered the most dangerous time at a refinery.  

The aftermath of that day led to a realization that, as an industry, we weren't doing enough to protect the men and women who worked in oil and gas refineries. At this site, there were several portable trailers near a process unit. Almost all of the deaths and injuries occurred in this area.

The Birth of Portable Blast Resistant Modules

The American Petroleum Institute had already created a recommended practice for permanent structures, API RP 752, which guides the management of hazards in relation to the location of permanent buildings. Something needed to be done about portable buildings, which are commonly used to house contractors and as meeting spaces. API RP 753 began to take shape after this incident.

In the months following, engineers noted that shipping containers that were used on-site to store tools remained intact, but the portable wood frame trailers were decimated. They began to wonder: can a shipping container be converted into a portable blast-resistant building?

With this question, they came to RedGuard, known at the time as "A Box 4 U." The company specialized in renting and selling shipping containers* for use on construction and other industrial sites, like oil and gas refineries. Engineers studying the explosion site approached RedGuard's founder, Jeff Lange, with the idea of building portable blast-resistant buildings. Jeff saw the need in the industry, and the idea for the first generation of RedGuard buildings began to take shape. Once the design was finalized on paper, a blast test was in order. 

Blast-resistant portable buildings started going onto sites shortly after, and the company began manufacturing its fleet of safe, steel blast-resistant buildings that could be leased for temporary use. 

RedGuard's Commitment to Safety

We've come a long way since that initial design and the first blast test. We no longer start with shipping containers, for example. And our subsequent designs have been engineered and tested in additional blast tests

RedGuard buildings are always designed and tested using third-party engineers, and the company offers a range of engineering services that also use third-party engineers. This approach ensures that the recommendations come from those without a stake in the result, providing unbiased and objective results.

As a parallel example, if you went to the doctor for a problem and the only solution happened to be a product that only his practice sold - that would seem suspect. The same is true for blast-resistant buildings. If an engineering firm does a site study and then tells you that its product is the only thing that will meet your needs, you are right to be apprehensive. 

The Future of Blast Resistant Modules 

In this 17th year since that catastrophic incident in Texas City, we are reminded of the need for continuous improvement in protecting lives on hazardous work sites. RedGuard's commitment to safety remains unwavering, and the company continues to provide safe and reliable solutions that save lives. 

It's never too early to start planning for your next turn-around project. Contact our LeaseFleet team and keep your team safe.


*SiteBox Storage, a division of RedGuard, still rents and sells shipping container-based buildings for use on worksites. They now sell a variety of storage options, as well as mobile offices and units with customizable layouts.


Carreen Gibbons

Carreen Gibbons

Carreen Gibbons is the Communications Specialist at RedGuard. With a natural curiosity toward technical subjects and a love of learning new things, she writes content for the SiteBox Storage and RedGuard websites and spends her days learning new things about the industries that the companies serve.