The Des Moines Fire Department recently added a training tool that will help firefighters better prepare to respond to a rollover of a tanker carrying hazardous material.
“We know we’re going to have emergencies involving gasoline tankers, so it’s imperative we teach responders some of the tricks of the trade so they truly understand the mechanisms and the quantity of hazards associated with this kind of material,” said Lt. Bob Suarez of the fire department’s special operations section.
The department received the tanker about two months ago from the Iowa Fire Service Training Bureau. It is now situated at the fire administration building, 2715 Dean Ave., The Des Moines Register reported.
The tanker will help firefighters learn how to determine if a tanker is carrying hazardous material, how to remove the material from the tanker, and more.
“What it allows us to do is train at what we call the operations and the technician level when it comes to response,” Suarez said.
The tanker had been donated to the state training bureau, which kept it in Ames for about 15 years, Suarez said.
Before receiving the tanker, Des Moines firefighters had to attend specialty schools – one is in Pueblo, Colorado – to receive training, Suarez said.
The donated truck can hold about 9,000 gallons of material in its four compartments. That’s the standard size of tankers driving on Iowa roads.
The training tanker is an outdated model – it was built in the 1970s – and is made of steel. New tankers are made out of aluminum, Suarez said.
Newer tankers also have safety features that the older models do not have. Suarez said new trucks have an additional discharge compartment that collects vapor.
“It isn’t realistic in every sense, but it allows the responder the opportunity to practice the skills and abilities he would need to execute in a real-life situation,” Suarez said.
The fire department plans to use the tanker for its first training exercise in about a month, Suarez said. Officials are now coming up with the training curriculum to go with the tanker.
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