Fire Department gets county help at Hazmat response drill


DeKalb firefighters spray flame retardant foam at an emergency preparedness drill Sept. 19 at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, 3232 Pleasant St. More than 20 emergency responders took part in the Hazmat drill.

By Lauren Cliffe

Members of the DeKalb Fire Department’s Hazmat team and other local firefighters simulated an automobile collision involving unidentified chemicals during a drill Thursday at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, 3232 Pleasant St.

The city’s team has about 12 members, but Thursday’s drill was a county-wide effort that brought in more than 20 emergency responders from the area, Lt. Paramedic Jim Carani said.

The team covered gas leaking from a Penske truck with a foam-like subtance, which cools fire, suppresses its vapors and blankets the fuel, Carani said.

The Hazmat team is called in by emergency services to deal with any situation involving hazardous materials, including railway accidents and methamphetamine labs, Carani said.

“Every gas leak, every carbon monoxide leak, those are technically hazardous materials calls and we go on hundreds of those,” Carani said.

Lt. Keith Fritz, Hazardous Materials Operations officer, said the response to situations like the one practiced Thursday can be slow. Before anyone can go into the contaminated area, a three-system shower process must be set up so the Hazmat team members may decontaminate themselves.

DeKalb’s Hazmat team has responded to about a dozen serious incidents involving hazardous materials this year, Carani said.