Martinsville, Henry County first responders conduct joint hazmat training

First responders practiced stopping simulated chemical leaks Friday

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

HENRY COUNTY, Va. - Martinsville firefighters and Henry County Department of Public Safety members are now better prepared for a hazmat situation.

The two departments spent the week training together for hazmat incidents for the first time.

During Friday's training, the firefighters and public safety members donned hazmat suits and used various tools to stop water squirting out of a pipe.

The water simulated a chemical leak.

Martinsville Fire Department Lt. John Kaczor said having this weeklong, joint training between the fire department and the department of public safety ensures that the departments will be able to respond quickly to a hazmat incident.

"If you (only) have one or two individuals (trained), the possibility of them working that day is slim," Kaczor said. "But now, we have gentlemen across each shift trained."

Henry County Department of Public Safety operations chief Jason Sturm said the joint training is also important because it helps the departments be prepared to work together.

"We work together very well on multiple occasions: house fires, car wrecks, stuff like that," Sturm said.

In Friday's simulation, each group had to stop two sets of pipes from leaking and then two different tanks inside a building with very little light.

"You're building that muscle memory, you're exposing yourself to what you need to do to make (VIDEO) that a successful event," Kaczor said. "This is a classic high-risk, low-frequency event. We won't run these calls regularly, so that's why we need to train on them as often as we can."

When asked what scenarios they most looked forward to getting to work on this week, Kaczor and Sturm's answer was simple.

"All of them," Sturm said, trying to hold back a smile.

"Yes," Kaczor said in response to Sturm's comment.

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