Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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Local first responders train for ignitable liquid disaster

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Albany/HV: Local first responders train for ignitable liquid disaster
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After several train derailments and amidst the ongoing debate of transporting crude oil in our own backyard, a training drill in the city is more important than ever. Erin Connolly has more on the importance of this drill.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Flames were shooting from the tank near the Port of Albany but this was only a drill.

"What we have is a prop that uses propane and water to simulate a liquid fire involving petroleum products," said Dan Baker of the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

Twenty-four firefighters participated to better prepare themselves in the event of a liquid emergency. The risks associated with transporting combustible materials like crude oil has been a major concern recently, especially in the Albany area, but organizers say this training is routine and has been offered for the past three years.

"The training were doing today is relevant to any ignitable liquid training including crude oil, but we are not having the training today because of that risk," said Jim Cable of the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

Firefighters got that hands-on experience putting out multiple fires using a fire suppressing foam, not water.

"Because of the nature of water and fuels water is not effective extinguishing agent because it doesn't suppress the vapors that create the fire," said Baker.

And while drills like this one are beneficial, people in the community worry about crude oil being transported just feet away from homes in Albany and aren't confident first responders would be ready for the worst case scenario.

"Today's training is not enough. What we need is for these firefighters to be able to cope with the aftermath of a huge explosion of the kind we've seen five times in the last nine months," said Sandy Steubing of the People of Albany United for Safe Energy.

And officials agree. They say that's why they're accelerating their efforts and plan to double or triple their efforts in the coming months.

"This material as we've seen in explosions all over the country is very volatile so we need to take a cautious approach to minimize loss of civilian life and make sure that firefighters aren't put in danger," said Jerome Hauer, the New York State Commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.


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