Firefighters team up for hazmat training

Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email
Posted by Lauren Thomson - email

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Hydrogen peroxide is used every day for treating water in Wrightsville Beach, but Wednesday night, firefighters found out how dangerous it can be.

The Wrightsville Beach Fire Department teamed up with the Hazardous Materials Response Team from Wilmington for an exercise to practice cleaning up a chemical spill.

In this drill, water spilled out of a tanker truck and smoke filled the air, simulating a hydrogen peroxide leak. The chemical is used for water treatment, and it burns anything it comes into contact with.

"Transferring this product from a truck to a tank is something that takes place regularly and it's one place that we identified that could potentially be a problem," said Chief Frank Smith of WBFD. "I wouldn't say it's a likely scenario, but it's one we want to be prepared for. It could occur."

When firefighters arrived at the scene and rescued a dummy driver, they got him cleaned up and called in the hazmat team.

"We know that what we do, especially when it comes to hazardous material incidents like this don't happen often," said David Hines of the Wilmington Fire Department. "The least frequently they happen, the more we need to train to be proficient at it, so whenever it does happen, we can handle it."

The Wilmington team covers seven different counties, and must work with all of them to keep responses like this running efficiently.

"It's very important for us to work together so we understand each other's procedures and each other's capabilities, so if we have to come together in an emergency situation like this, we already know how each other is going to operate," Chief Smith added.

The Chief added he likes to do these types of hazmat training scenarios at least once a year.

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