On Monday, February 13, 2023, Spring Mill Fire Company No.1 members worked on sharpening their hands-on hazardous materials skills. The primary objective of the training was to recognize, identify, contain, and mitigate the situation.
Crews were dispatched at 19:15 hours for a vehicle leaking fuel at the Whitemarsh Highway Department. The initial report was a tank leaking an unknown substance in the compost area at the rear of the facility. All units responded at reduced speed, with the first due unit, Engine 45 with Lieutenant 45-1 along with a crew of 6 arrived on the scene to find a tank on a trailer not connected to a towing vehicle, leaking an unknown substance from the rear of the trailer. Squad 45, Ladder 45, Air 45, Special Service 45, and Traffic 45 also responded to assist with the incident.
Lieutenant 45-1 was the Incident Commander tasked first with identifying the unknown substance. Upon arrival, there were no hazardous materials placards visible from their vantage point. They deployed an entry team donned in full structural firefighting PPE breathing air from SCBA. Additionally, there was a safety team in full PPE with SCBA established with a charged handline on standby. The entry team discovered a flammable liquids placard with UN# 1170 only on the front side of the vessel. Assuming the product to be one of the following chemicals: Ethanol, Ethanol solution, Ethyl alcohol, or Ethyl alcohol solution.
The IC referenced the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) and he established a hot zone perimeter of 50 meters. A manpower pool was established at the front of Engine 45. The entry team returned, and a reconnaissance team was deployed to secure the leak by closing the open valve on the tank and creating a dike with sand to contain the leaking substance. At this point in the incident, our crews had mitigated the situation to the point that the County Hazardous Materials Response Unit would take over the incident.
After the incident, all personnel conducted a “hot wash” (critique) of the incident to discuss pros, cons, and outside-the-box thoughts.