RED ADAIR Biography - Craftmen, artisans and people from other Occupations


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Name: Paul Neal Adair                                                             
Born: 18 June 1915                                                                 
Died: 7 August 2004                                                               
Paul Neal "Red" Adair (June 18, 1915 - August 7, 2004) was a renowned             
American oil field firefighter. He became world famous as an innovator in the     
highly specialized and extremely hazardous profession of extinguishing and         
capping blazing, erupting oil wells, both land-based and offshore.                 
Adair was born in Houston, Texas, and attended Reagan High School. He began       
fighting oil well fires after returning from serving in a bomb disposal unit       
during World War II. Red started his career working for the MM Kinley Company,     
the "original" blowout/oil firefighting pioneer. He founded Red Adair Co., Inc.,   
in 1959, and over his long career battled more than 2,000 land and offshore oil   
well, natural gas well, and similar spectacular fires. Red Adair gained global     
fame in 1962, when he tackled a fire at a gas field in the Sahara nicknamed the   
Devil's Cigarette Lighter, a 450-foot (137 m) pillar of flame. In 1977, he and     
his crew (incl. Asger "Boots" Hansen) contributed in mending the biggest oil       
well blowout ever (by Jan 2008) to have occurred in the North Sea (and the 2nd     
largest offshore blowout worldwide, in terms of volume of crude oil spilled),     
more specifically at the Phillips Petroleum Company (now Phillips Petroleum       
Conoco) operated Ekofisk Bravo platform, located in the Norwegian sector. In       
1988, he helped put out the UK sector Piper Alpha oil platform fire. At age 75,   
Adair took part in extinguishing the oil well fires in Kuwait set by retreating   
Iraqi troops after the Gulf War in 1991. In 1978, Adair's top lieutenants Asger   
"Boots" Hansen and Ed "Coots" Matthews left to found competitor Boots & Coots     
International Well Control, Inc.                                                   
Red Adair retired in 1993, and sold his company The Red Adair Company to Global   
Industries. His top employees (Brian Krause, Raymond Henry, Rich Hatteberg)       
left in 1994 and formed their own company, International Well Control (IWC). In   
1997, IWC purchased the remnants of Boots and Coots and the company is now Boots   
& Coots/IWC.                                                                       
The 1968 John Wayne movie Hellfighters was based upon the feats of Adair during   
the 1962 Sahara Desert fire.                                                       
The History Channel's Modern Marvels episode on "Oil Well Firefighting" was one   
of Adair's last interviews prior to his 2004 death. The episode aired after       
Adair's death and was dedicated in his memory.