Haz-Mat Incidents Bad Enough, Advice Shouldn’t Be Worse

Issue 8 and Volume 134.

Haz-Mat Incidents Bad Enough, Advice Shouldn’t Be Worse features The Editor’s Opinion Page As chemicals are used in increasing quantities to sustain the quality of life in the United States, fire fighters are going to become involved increasingly in hazardous materials incidents. The record shows that tragic incidents have struck in both large cities and rural communities. Therefore, hazardous materials have become a universal problem to the fire service. What makes the problem worse than it should be is the growing realization that the emergency information systems are—one might say—bombing out. No less an authority than the National Transportation Safety Board called attention to the quibbling and quavering among the “technical advisers” and the guideline tomes with their varied suggestions. Specifically, the NTSB condemned the failure of the “experts” to agree on how to handle a phosphorus trichloride spill in a railroad yard in Somerville, Mass., in April 1980. The…

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