The Hotchkiss Fire District hosted training and exercises on Saturday for firefighters, law enforcement and others in emergency management. The classes were done at the Hotchkiss Fire Station with the hands-on exercises taking place at Delta County Road and Bridge District #3 on Back River Road.
The exercise entailed handling a simulated gas tanker spill.
This Hazardous Materials Exercise Project was funded by a $26,000 grant from the Colorado Division of Emergency Management.
Agencies participating in the training with the Hotchkiss Fire District included Central Orchard Mesa Fire, Delta County Sheriff's Office, Hotchkiss Mayor Wendell Koontz, Hotchkiss Marshal's Office, Grand Junction Fire Department, Gunnison Fire Hazmat Team, Glade Park Volunteer Fire, Crawford Volunteer Fire, Paonia Fire Department and Ouray County.
In a real situation, Hotchkiss Marshal Dan Miller would be at the command center coordinating activities and getting the firefighters the resources they need.
"In the morning classroom session, they covered a lot of great material," Hotchkiss Mayor Wendell Koontz said. "I learned a lot, personally, in how to handle hazmat and what the incident command structure should be. I think we are very blessed to have such a great local group of men and women who volunteer to do this."
Hotchkiss Fire Chief Doug Fritz said the training was very important.
"Up in the North Fork we are isolated. It would be a long time before we could get help," Fritz said. "We're hoping that some of our other agencies buy in to learning a lot more about hazmat and getting their certification so they can assist us on these things. We need to get more partners."
The training complements the skills and education needed by firefighters when they go through their hazmat certification. They re-certify every three years.
"The class is demanding. It's not easy to get the certification," Fritz said.
"This is one more of the jobs the local fire departments handle," Fritz said. "The fire districts are turning out to be the jacks of all trades for emergency resources for our county and citizens."
Signet North America provided the instructors for the training. Signet has the nation's top educators in hazardous materials training. They are based in Pueblo.
Jim Babylon of Signet North America was the exercise director on Saturday. "I'm responsible for all the exercises being completed according to standards and regulations and safely," Babylon said. He said the firefighters were doing great.
Babylon is a retired firefighter from South Metro Fire District in Denver. That one department handles 60 to 90 hazmat calls each year.
Babylon encourages people concerned about a possible hazmat situation to call 911.
Twenty-eight people went through the hazmat training and exercises on Saturday. Chief Fritz said it will probably be some years before this kind of training will come back to the North Fork Valley.blog comments powered by Disqus