Firefighters Fight Deadly Chemicals

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

November 17, 2005
Deadly chemicals surround you every day on the roads and in the factories. And they pass you through every county. News 12 is on your side with how Columbia County firefighters are learning to respond to accidents that could expose you to deadly toxins.

Any of these vehicles could be transporting lethal chemicals. That’s why Martinez-Columbia Fire and Rescue Engineer Paul Casey is going through today’s hazmat training.

“It’s scary cause you never know at first,” Casey said.

They will be able to respond to accidents anywhere in the CSRA. Chemicals they have to contain at the scene of an accident could be anything from the chlorine gas that killed nine in Graniteville in January to high levels of acetone, the chemical in nail polish remover.

Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann says they usually know what the chemical is with factory accidents, but it’s a different story on the road.

“You don’t know what’s in a tractor trailer, you have to find out what’s in a tank car, rail car, whatever,” Kuhlmann said.

And a new trend to deal with is mobile methamphetamine labs. The first thing they do in a chemical accident is isolate the toxins and close the area off. Then, it’s off to detox.

If a firefighter or victim needs immediate medical attention they come here, to emergency decontamination, where they’re hosed off with soap and water before being rushed to the hospital.

For everyone else, they go through a more thorough process to completely remove the chemical.

“That’s what this education is about, teaching us to go in so we can learn what the chemical is, be as safe as we can, and take care of the situation,” Casey said.

The Georgia Fire Academy is in charge of the training. Martinez-Columbia recently got a $35,000 grant for new hazmat equipment. They’ll be able to respond to chemical accidents within the year.

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