Better safe than sorry: firefighters exercise HAZMAT procedures
By Senior Airman Christopher Gross, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 13, 2012
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Safety should never be an afterthought or be taken lightly, that's why Buckley Fire Department firefighters exercise hazardous material de-contamination procedures at least every couple months.
"It's just like everything else," said Buckley Fire Department fire chief Brian Poe, "we prepare for the worst."
Poe said his firefighters would implement these procedures with anything from a rolled over tanker, a weapons attack or anytime they're dealing with any type of unknown substance.
That's why 14 Buckley Fire Department firefighters recently participated in HAZMAT training.
"Even though it doesn't happen a lot, you still never know what can happen. This is why we stay proficient on it," said Buckley firefighter Lt. Jason Kunkel.
Kunkel said, the set-up stage of the training is where his firefighters learn a lot. He said so much goes into setting up the three-part station, it's important they're familiar with it, so they're not trying to figure it out during an emergency.
Three wash stations are set up for the contaminated emergency responders, with somebody at each station to assist them in scrubbing off their suits.
At the last station somebody runs a detector over the responder to see if they've been decontaminated. If they haven't been, then they must repeat the same procedures again until free of contamination. Once de-contaminated their suits are thrown into a sealed container where they'll be cleaned more thoroughly.
Poe said this training is just like any other training they perform, whether it be fire fighting or CPR. It's something that his firefighters could be called upon to do, so it's important they're properly prepared to handle whatever situation comes their way.