About 300 Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel from across Los Angeles County last month participated in a series of hazmat first responder operations training exercises designed to allow firefighters to practice making tactical decisions for initial rescue operations.
Held at the Department’s Del Valle Regional Training Center in Castaic, each scenario involved the rescue of at least one 165-pound mannequin, according to Fire Captain Dave Laub of the Homeland Security Section.
“The idea was to make that line-of-sight rescue,” he said.
The scenarios were held in various locations in Del Valle’s Hazmat City—a live fire on a loading dock, a warehouse with a line-of-sight rescue problem, and a freeway prop with a radiological incident.
“We had (the firefighters) operate as first-alarm assignment,” Laub said. Throughout the scenario, firefighters “had to use their equipment, their meters and their monitors to be able to determine their environment” and effect a rescue.
Training sessions were held throughout the month of March; approximately 75 engine companies participated. Laub said that organizers sought battalion chiefs and captains who had less than two years at their respective ranks.
During each session, “we had a roughly 25-minute lecture, then we had an hour and a half of going over our hazardous materials equipment—gas tracks, carbon monoxide monitors, chemical detection kits or chemical detection equipment,” Laub said. “We developed a quick guidebook.”
After that, firefighters completed each exercise.
Laub said the training was a success, and that the Department may do additional training sessions next year.
“We really got a lot of good, positive feedback,” Laub said. “Partly because it was a good learning environment, and partly because it’s stuff that we just don’t go over that often. It’s very, very low frequency and very high risk.”
Featured image: File photo of the loading dock outside the warehouse in Hazmat City. Photo by Nicole Mooradian.