COLUMBIA, MO. – If an explosion, chemical spill or natural or man-made disaster happens, emergency responders will need to know how to safely deal with a variety of harmful chemicals and substances in their response.
The new Haz Mat Training truck and trailer will now enhance the capability of the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute to offer portable training for departments to learn these vital skills to deal with hazardous materials.
"In these days and times with the amount of chemicals in our daily lives hazardous material incidents certainly have become a prominent type of call responders receive," said David Hedrick, MU FRTI director. "Whether it be an overturned fuel tanker, a chemical release in a plant or manufacturing facility, chemicals that react in the home environment, or weapons of mass destruction, emergency responders need to be prepared to protect the citizens that they serve."
MU FRTI unveiled this new vehicle and gave a short demonstration on September 9 on the MU campus. The demonstration showcased some of the equipment and capabilities of the new unit.
"Inside the trailer is a variety of equipment, tools and props to assist in the training we deliver," Hedrick said. "This new truck and trailer unit will enhance the training capabilities in our Hazardous Materials training program, and ultimately enhance emergency responders understanding and capabilities when they need to respond to the 'real thing!'"
The trailer became available thanks to cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). MDC located the vehicle through the federal surplus property program and made arrangements for it to be added to the nearly 20 vehicle training fleet at the institute. MU FRTI retrofitted the vehicle and modified it to hold all the equipment and props needed for future training.
The hazmat trailer will be able to travel around Missouri, training first responders and firefighters where they are in week-long training sessions that include both knowledge-based curriculum and hands-on experience with real-life scenarios.
"About 70 percent of Missouri's fire service is volunteer, and the best way we can reach those volunteers is making that course accessible in the local community in a time format and location that meets their needs," Hedrick said. "Hazardous materials can be dangerous to citizens but also to the first responders doing their job, so we want to make sure they are appropriately trained to respond to and mitigate these instances."
Funding to subsidize the cost of training comes from the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, the Missouri Emergency Response Commission and the State Emergency Management Agency. Tuition from training offered also partially funds FRTI's effort.
"We're proud of our partnership with these agencies because they do a great job working with us as well as making funding available to meet the training needs of the state's fire departments and emergency responders," Hedrick said.