Sys­tems put to the test

Cor­ner Brook Fire Depart­ment car­ries out haz­mat ex­er­cise

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY DIANE CROCKER

As the Cor­ner Brook Fire Depart­ment was car­ry­ing out a haz­mat ex­er­cise at the port in Cor­ner Brook on Thurs­day, it was also test­ing out its en­tire op­er­a­tion.

From the team that re­sponded to the dis­patch back at the fire hall and be­ing able to ob­tain call-in fire­fight­ers, deputy fire chief Craig Har­num said “ev­ery­thing is pretty much un­der the mi­cro­scope of eval­u­a­tion.”

As one of the prov­ince’s haz­mat re­sponse teams, Har­num said the depart­ment has a big area to cover.

“Plus, there’s still a city to pro­tect.”

So, it was cru­cial to be able to en­sure that the depart­ment could do that.

While at the port with the 10-mem­ber team an­other nine mem­bers were brought into the sta­tion to han­dle other emer­gency calls

As it turns out, some real-life in­ci­dents ended up play­ing a role in the ex­er­cise as the depart­ment had to re­spond to an alarm at the long-term care cen­tre, where there was no fire.

And the depart­ment also had to be on a bit of ex­tra alert be­cause of a wa­ter out­age that af­fected a large part of the Curl­ing area of the city.

With all that, Har­num said the depart­ment wanted to make sure it was safely able to com­plete the ex­er­cise.

“It’s a game of hurry up and take your time and make sure all your ducks are in or­der.”

The sce­nario at the port in­volved what was thought to be a rou­tine chem­i­cal spill.

If the con­tainer con­tain­ing the chem­i­cal tipped over or leaked out on the ground it would not be con­sid­ered very bad.

“But if it got in­tro­duced to mois­ture or wa­ter it turned into an acid which turned it to a haz­ardous ma­te­rial,” said Har­num.

With the high in­ci­dence of rain dur­ing the past cou­ple of months, the like­li­hood of the spill es­ca­lat­ing was high so the depart­ment was able to ramp up the ex­er­cise from some­what of a haz­ardous op­er­a­tion to a dan­ger­ous op­er­a­tion.

The team is one of the depart­ment’s newer ones and Har­num said its mem­bers wanted to test their abil­ity at read­ing that trans­fer of chem­i­cal break­down to an­other chem­i­cal which changes the haz­ard level.

The port of­fered a pri­vate area to con­duct the ex­er­cise with limited ac­cess, and it is also an area that would be con­sid­ered a haz­ard.

DIANE CROCKER/THE WEST­ERN STAR

The de­con­tam­i­na­tion process that haz­mat team mem­bers with the Cor­ner Brook Fire Depart­ment went through dur­ing an ex­er­cise at the port on Thurs­day in­volved a thor­ough scrub­bing.

DIANE CROCKER/THE WEST­ERN STAR

Once haz­mat team mem­bers with the Cor­ner Brook Fire Depart­ment com­pleted cleanup of a mock chem­i­cal spill dur­ing an ex­er­cise at the port on Thurs­day they went through a de­con­tam­i­na­tion process.

DIANE CROCKER/THE WEST­ERN STAR

Mem­bers of one of the Cor­ner Brook Fire Depart­ment’s haz­mat teams suited up to con­tain a mock chem­i­cal spill dur­ing an ex­er­cise at the port on Thurs­day.

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