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Firefighters receive HAZMAT training

Firefighters take part in a hazardous materials training exercise Thursday at Beeland Park. Fifteen Greenville firefighters are now tech level HAZMAT trained. (Advocate Staff/Austin Nelson)

Firefighters from Greenville, Poarch Creek Indian Reservation and Ozark got the chance to gain hazardous material training this week free of charge, thanks to the Alabama State Fire College and federal grant money.

The course was a hazardous materials technician class and is the second level of three hazardous material responses classes taught in the state.

Lt. Deslie Galloway of the Eufaula Fire Department instructed the course.

“The tech level course specializes in suiting up and then entry into a chemical area,” Galloway said.

“They work on dealing with chemical problems by either fixing the container, stopping the leak or controlling it.”

Galloway said the course also covered information gathering and management skills and how they relate to a response to a hazardous material incident.

“Our goal is to protect the public,” Galloway said.

“Our information gathering helps mitigate and stop the incident as quick as we can so we can keep the public safe.”

After classroom learning was completed, the firefighters suited up and responded to a simulated incident behind Beeland Park.

The old pool building was used to simulate a chlorine spill.

“Wellheads for your local water department typically store chlorine and fluoride to assist with treatment as the water comes out of the well,” Galloway said.

“These cylinders and lines can rupture. A small leak like what we simulated today could affect four to five square blocks.”

Part of the response to such an incident, Galloway explained, involves deciding how to protect the public in the immediate area.

“This is more than just putting on a suit and going down to a leak and handling it,” Galloway said.

“We have to think about thinks such as, should we protect in place, or evacuate? Then, where will they go, who is going to move them and how will we help those that can’t evacuate themselves?”

Chief Mike Phillips of the Greenville Fire Department said that of their 21 firefighters, six are already tech level HAZMAT trained.

Nine Greenville firefighters participated in this week’s course, to bring the total number of HAZMAT trained GFD personnel to 15.