It happens more often than we would like. Fire can break out at any time on one of the thousands of 18-wheelers that roll through Central Texas every day. Thursday in Williamson County, members from half a dozen fire departments practiced how they would respond to truck fire involving hazardous materials.
Cedar Park hosted the exercise for the Williamson County Hazmat team. Their Fire Chief James Mallinger explained, “The hazmat team is made up of the command officers from Williamson County, five city fire departments: Leander, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Round Rock and Taylor and then the Hutto ESD Fire Departments."
Participants used the full-gear they would use to protect themselves from toxic fumes and practiced what they would do if one of their own went down. “Then we had to send the backup team in to go in and get them out and bring them to decon and get them out of their suits without their assistance," says Mallinger.
A major call like one involving loose hazardous materials is going to bring a lot of people out to the scene. Now Cedar Park has a new mobile command where they can now work together. Mallinger says, “This is the first drill that we've brought it out for the hazmat group... we have more computer screens, we have more ability to get to the Internet, it gives us more room to do a better job."
This kind of hands-on training is all about getting everyone -- young and old -- on the same page. Mallinger explains, “We have members out here that it might be their first drill, and we have may members out here that may have been on the hazmat team 5 to 10 years, so there are all different levels. But the goal in these drills here is to maintain everyone's proficiency and make sure everyone's prepared to do the job that is needed.”