Engine Company, Fireground Safety, Truck Company

The Gray Area: Firefighter Rescue and Hazmat

Issue 11 and Volume 170.

By PHIL AMBROSE Scenario: The tones drop for a train derailment. Firefighters don their gear, mount their rigs, and head to the scene. On arrival, they find four tanker cars on their sides oozing gallons upon gallons of ethyl-methyl “bad stuff.” The responders’ next actions are pretty straightforward: pull back to a safe distance and get hazmat experts en route to the scene. This is a “once in a career” call for most firefighters. However, the more likely scenario goes like this: The tones drop for a structure fire with smoke showing, and firefighters don their turnouts, eager to get to the scene. On their arrival, the house shows heavy smoke conditions with possible victims inside. Without hesitation, responders stretch lines and “mask up” to make entry into the hazardous environment to search for survivors. Despite the obvious hazardous materials, pulling back and calling for hazmat can’t be found in…

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