Each year, the West Grove Fire Company holds a series of annual training refresher courses. Last evening, 63 participants completed an annual overview of the role of first responders for hazardous materials incidents, held at the West Grove Fire Company. As the class was completed, the Department also responded to four emergency calls in a row on a busy Monday evening.
Over the course of multiple hours, the WGFC reviewed the proper way to size up and operate at a potential haz mat incident in a class presented by Gerry Lindenlauf, an instructor provided by the Chester County Fire School. Instructor Lindenlauf's message was simple: haz mat incidents can happen at any time, and the role of the WGFC is to be the first responders to size up an incident, identify potential hazards, protect the public, and, when necessary, assume an appropriate defensive position while calling in trained experts.
Haz mat incidents can happen almost anywhere, due to accidents on highways or railways, spills at industrial or commercial facilities, or simple at home accidents. Understanding what to look for, how to respond, and the first actions to take are critical to the role of first responders. This class teaches practical instruction on types of transport vehicles (trucks, railcars, etc.), containers, and an overview of nationally approved labeling of such materials. The class also provides instruction of the ways that fire company and EMS personnel can assist haz mat teams on the incident scene with such critical tasks as decontamination.
The West Grove Fire Company prides itself with a strong and continuing commitment to training. Members and employees participate in hundreds of hours of training each year, through formal classes like the Haz Mat Refresher to company-level trainings held most Monday evenings at the fire house, as well attending regional and national expert sessions. The role of fire and EMS personnel is ever-changing, and the leaders and members of the Fire Company remain committed to training to assure the ability to respond to any emergency in this community.
At the completion of the class, the WGFC responded to a rollover accident on Route 1, assisted Avondale on an automatic alarm at a nearby residential care facility, then responded (at the request of Avondale) to an auto accident in New Garden Township; and also handled a CO alarm in Penn Township.