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Public safety personnel receive HazMat training

“It would amaze you what’s on trucks and train cars coming through the city of Cairo,” said Spence Volunteer Fire Chief Richard Phillips, one of five local firemen who recently attended Hazardous Materials Operations (HazMat Ops) training in Donalsonville, Ga.
A large toxic chemical spill within the city limits could be devastating, not only to the environment, but to the people who come in contact with the hazardous material. Thus, having trained personnel who are trained to contain and control a spill can reduce the likelihood of injury to the general public.
As an example, Phillips said, “water burns” when introduced as an agent to quell some chemical fires.
Now, citizens can breathe a little easier knowing that firemen representing the city of Cairo and county volunteer units have the necessary training to contain a hazardous chemical spill.
Other city of Cairo and county volunteer firemen completing HazMat Ops training include FF Brian Thompson, Lt. Bill Schafer, FF Lance Butler and FF Terrence Blake.
The HazMat Ops training is designed to prepare emergency personnel not only to identify hazardous materials, but contain the scene until technicians arrive to remove or dispose of the material.
“For example, if a tanker is turned over spilling (toxic materials) into a ditch; I can dam the ditch up,” Phillips explained. “But I do not clean it up, that would be your techs. The ops level is strictly a defensive mode,” he said.
He noted in the case of a spill the HazMat team would also determine the extent of evacuation needed.

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