Hazmatters: Fort Dodge

HMN-Fort Dodge firefighters training on high hazard incidents making them our Hazmatters of the week!  Original story posted in the Messenger News


-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Fort Dodge Firefighter Devon Schuster, center, practices his ability to stop a leak on a simulated 1-ton chlorine cylinder during a training exercise at the department’s training tower Thursday.

Fort Dodge firefighters who serve on a local hazardous materials team became the first in the state to test out new statewide equipment available to all Hazmat responders.

The equipment, which is owned by the State Fire Marshal’s training bureau, provides a variety of tools for varied training scenarios that hazardous materials response teams across the state can use to improve their skills.

On Thursday, the 22 technicians with the Region V Hazardous Materials Response Team, based in Fort Dodge, spent the afternoon at the training tower on Avenue O learning tactics to stop leaks.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Fort Dodge Firefighter Matt Newton works to clamp down a simulated hazardous materials leak during a Region V Hazardous Materials Response Team training exercise Thursday afternoon.

Fort Dodge Fire Department Capt. Steve Hergenreter said the Region V team was the first of the 12 in the state that had the opportunity to use the training equipment.

The equipment includes a diesel saddle tank for a semi truck, a 1-ton chlorine tank, a 150-pound chlorine cylinder, and two domes. One represents a railroad car leaking anhydrous ammonia and the other represents a railroad car leaking chlorine.

“There are eight different containment props on the trailer,” Hergenreter said. “All are skills required by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) law.”

The advantage this gives Hazmat technicians is the ability to do hands-on training.

“They’re designed and with specifications written to meet competencies,” Hergenreter said.

The State Fire Marshal’s office has been working for about a year to get the equipment. A committee comprised of Hergenreter, Des Moines Fire Department Capt. Bob Suarez, Cedar Rapids Fire Department Capt. Mike Cheney, and Jim Kinkel, a training specialist with the State Fire Marshal’s office, helped secure a grant to purchase all of the equipment.

Thursday’s exercise was part of the team’s annual 24-hour refresher course.

“It’s a three-day Hazmat teaching and training session,” Hergenreter said.

Every one of the department’s three shifts has firefighters who are trained Hazmat technicians, he said, and are able to respond to any hazardous materials spill in Region V’s nine-county coverage area. That area includes Calhoun, Carroll, Greene, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Sac, Webster and Wright counties.

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