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Fire department trains for a dangerous day

Donning neon green rubber suits, members of the Farmington Fire Department ran several scenarios while completing the yearly hazardous material refresher course on Jan. 11.

“During the refresher course, we practice everything from putting the suits on and off to doing some patching, plugging and diking drilling on drums and plastic containers,” said Farmington Fire Chief Todd Mecey. “We also did some chlorine kits and practiced our decontamination procedure”

Although the course is a refresher, firefighters will spend a total of eight hours doing various activities such as recognizing container shapes, testing equipment, performing defensive actions and decontamination activities.

First responders must go through an extensive amount of training before receiving their hazmat certification.

“This course has become a lot more intensive,” Mecey said. “It used to be 40 hours and now it is 80 hours. Additionally, there are two certificates a firefighter must obtain before they can become hazmat certified.”

Presently, Farmington has 14 members on its Hazardous Material Response team that will respond in the case of an emergency.

“We have a small team, but it designed around the larger teams that are stationed in Sikeston and in Jefferson County,” Mecey said. “We are kind of in between. We are big enough to do recognition to determine if we have (an emergency). Or if it is something small like fixing a valve or plugging a hole, we have the personnel to do that. But if it’s a larger scale, then we have to call for additional manpower.”

Members of the Farmington Fire Department inspect a drum during a simulated hazmat accident on Jan. 11. The department was taking part in a mandatory refresher course.  

Members of the Farmington Fire Department inspect a drum during a simulated hazmat accident on Jan. 11. The department was taking part in a mandatory refresher course.  

A member of the Farmington Fire Department begins the tedious process of suiting up for the hazmat training session held on Jan. 11 at the department.  

A member of the Farmington Fire Department begins the tedious process of suiting up for the hazmat training session held on Jan. 11 at the department.  

Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or at cvaughn@farmingtonpressonline.com

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