Preparing for the real thing

November 9, 2013

Fire Departments from across Troup County Thursday gathered at the Long Cane Creek Water Pollution Control Plant to perform their annual fire safety drill.

The drill is designed to be a simulation of what precautions and measures would be taken place in the event of an emergency at the plant. Of course, when performing a drill like this, safety is the name of the game for those entering the “danger zone.”

“One of the biggest things is that our personnel are safe,” Lieutenant Chris Taylor of the LaGrange Fire Department said.

“We have to make sure that they have the proper protection equipment.”

Another important aspect when performing such a drill is identifying what kind of situation that the fire department is facing and the different procedures that are necessary in order to deal with the crisis at hand. For the drill this year, the fire departments were asked to perform a simulation where there was a hazardous material leek.

“(We) Didn’t have a whole lot of information on the leak itself until we arrived on the scene. Firefighters made contact with personnel, they advised that they did have an active chlorine leak at the location and two people missing, but everyone else was evacuated from the facility,” Taylor said of the information given about the simulation.

“We set up an isolation zone for the area, about 1,500 feet and also had law enforcement en route to the location shut down the interstate in close proximity and to evacuate any other buildings in the vicinity.”

Taylor and the rest of the fire departments on the scene used the information given to them to come up with a safe solution for the hazardous situation.

“Based on the information we gathered, we were able to look into our hazardous material book and check out what type of chemical we’re dealing with, whether it was on fire or not on fire and what precautions to take,” Taylor said.

Taylor believes that drills like this are beneficiary to the departments, as it gives them first hand experience from the training they receive.

“We do these type of drills once a year, but we also have certification once a year,” Taylor said.

“This allows us to take the training and apply it to a real situation.”

The biggest challenge for the departments is always a matter of time and being able to isolate the situation quickly.

“Anytime you have a hazardous material incident, it’s a long drawn out process.It’s not something you can just go run in real quick because when you’re dealing with hazardous material, the last thing you want to do is hurt first responders trying to get to people in the immediate area,” Taylor said.

“Getting everyone together is a big challenge, plus off duty personnel are being called in that are on our hazardous material team.”

Once the situation is under control, the departments can pack up and call it a day.