Medford Firefighters Train With Hazmats

By Christy Lewis

MEDFORD, Ore. — Local fire officials said they’re paying close attention to something that doesn’t occur on a day-to-day basis. Thursday they worked on a skill that they may not use, but are adamant about maintaining.

Smoke billows from a car crash, fire officials arrive on scene and begin their rescue, except this is all for practice. This training scenario may seem standard for a firefighter’s daily rescue, but in this case, hazardous materials, or hazmats are involved.

Diesel gas is leaking from the truck and the driver is stuck inside fighting the fire. Because of the hazmats, fire fighters can’t go about business as usual.

“They have patient that they just can’t grab and get out of the way fast, it’s going to take awhile but at the same time the cars on fire and it’s trying to work it’s way into the passenger compartment. So it can get pretty hairy and they’ve got to deal with all those problems at once,” explains Hazardous Materials Instructor Rick Haines.

Fire officials say stuff like this doesn’t happen very much.
“It’s what we call a high risk, low frequency event and it’s very dangerous but it doesn’t happen that often,” says Fire Captain Jason Allen

Fire Captain Allen only remembers three events involving hazmats in his twelve-year career.

“…It’s good for us to just come out and do the refresher, to go through the books and look at placards, just kind of dust off those cobwebs, we don’t use those skills very often,” Allen says.

Training days like these are an important refresher for possible hazmat situations. Firefighters also learned how to properly detect carbon monoxide in someone’s home.