Training focuses on potential hazardous leaks

Published 10:49 am Monday, June 1, 2009

It’s a scenario that so far hasn’t happened, but that’s not stopping the Ironton City firefighters from training as if their lives, and the lives of the residents around them, depended on it.

That’s why the firefighters spent Friday afternoon getting special training on how to handle a chlorine spill that could come from a rail car or from the cylinders used at the city and village water and wastewater treatment plants.

The training was provided by technicians from the University of Findley and funded through grants acquired by the city department.

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Chlorine gas can be transported into the city and county possibly daily by rail.

A leak has the potential of causing a life-threatening situation for the surrounding area and those stopping the hazardous emission.

For their own protection firefighters must don Level A suits to give them protection. They are totally encapsulated and must carry air packs. Occasionally they will also add refrigeration vests.

While Runyon and the department have never faced an actual chlorine railcar leak, they have had to deal with leaks from the chlorine cylinders at the water treatment plant.

To stop a railcar leak takes a variety of instruments in a race against time. That’s why learning the drill as if it is second nature is imperatives.

“It takes several pieces to shut down a leak,” Ironton Fire Chief Tom Runyon said. “It’s is not something you can take the paperwork out of the box and read it. You have to practice.”