Full-Scale Simulation Preps Hazmat Team for Real-Life Scenario
A mysterious vapor fills the air. Multiple people report symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, and eye irritation. The building is evacuated, and the Madison Fire Department Hazardous Incident Team (HIT) is called to the scene.
While this type of scenario is rare, the MFD HIT has to be prepared for it to happen anytime. That’s why the team hosted a simulated full-scale hazmat event this month at the now-vacant Clock Tower Office Park on Odana Road, with assistance from the MFD Fire Training Division.
Based out of Fire Station 7 on McKenna Boulevard, the HIT is trained and equipped to respond to incidents involving hazardous materials in Madison and Dane County, as well as Sauk, Columbia, Dodge, Iowa, Grant, Lafayette, Green, and Rock Counties. Read more about the HIT. Their role during hazmat incidents is to contain and neutralize any hazards.
In this two-hour training simulation, the HIT is dispatched after a business owner reports finding an unknown liquid and detecting an odor. MFD firefighters arrive to assess the situation and determine the HIT is needed.
Based on this information, the HIT suits up in Level A protective gear that provides head-to-toe protection against the unknown agent. The team then performs a methodic search of the scene and collects samples in an attempt to identify the substance. Once the sample is identified, the HIT is tasked with researching the agent and determining how to contain and neutralize it.
After the mystery substance is contained and neutralized, the HIT checks the atmosphere once again with handheld air monitors in tow. Occupants are invited to return to the building after the team confirms the hazard is mitigated and the air quality is back to normal.
This exercise involved the entire ten-member on-duty Hazardous Incident Team, plus three members of the MFD Fire Training Division. The event served as continuing education for all members, but it provided a unique opportunity for some of the department’s newest members to get some hands-on experience with a touch of real-life complexity.
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