New Jersey Firefighters Angry Over Hazmat Exposure

Members of the hazmat team say they were put in danger unnecessarily

 

 
 
 

Claudia Gomez/http://www.myfoxphilly.com | | Thursday, December 20, 2012


VIDEOS

Multimedia Thumb

New Jersey Firefighters Angry Over Hazmat Exposure

Members of a hazmat crew that responded to last month's train derailment and chemical spill in South Jersey abruptly resigned from their county's hazmat team this week.
more >





GLOUCESTER COUNTY, N.J. --Members of a hazmat crew that responded to last month's train derailment and chemical spill in South Jersey abruptly resigned from their county's hazmat team this week. The firefighters say they were put in danger unnecessarily and they blame Gloucester County.

Top officials with Washington Township Fire Department are angry-- they say the county did not protect their guys the way they should have. Some of their first responders are especially concerned, because their urine tested for high levels of the chemical that spilled in Paulsboro.

First responders are the men and women who run toward a disaster, while everyone else runs away. November 30th was no different, when a train carrying a chemical called vinyl chloride spilled some of its contents. But when the hazmat crews from Washington Township arrived on scene, they say they didn't have the equipment they needed. "It was unnecessarily putting people in harm's way," Sam Micklus, the chairman of the Washington Township Board of Fire Commissioners told Fox 29. "Firefighters get in harm's way but you mitigate all those risks by taking precautions ahead of time," Micklus insisted. "It's kind of like asking a police SWAT team to go hunt down an active shooter somewhere, and they get to their SWAT vehicle and they find out there's no bullets in their weapons," Chief John Hoffman of the Washington Township Fire Department added.

The firefighters from Washington Township are members of a hazmat team run by Gloucester County. The county is in charge of maintaining the equipment. But the township's fire chief says several of the meters that monitor air quality didn't work. The batteries were dead. And he says none of his guys had access to working canister respirators, to help them breathe clean air. Alarming, considering vinyl chloride can cause cancer. "We don't know what's going to happen five years from now," Hoffman said. "Do we have firefighters in our organization who were exposed to this product unnecessarily? Who are going to be sick?"

So Sam Micklus wrote a letter to Gloucester County, saying he was pulling his nine firefighters out of the hazmat team, until things changed. "They really want to be part of this team," Micklus said. "They're trained for it, they're enthusiastic about it. They just no longer trust the way the team's managed and organized."

So what's Gloucester County saying? No official would give Fox 29 an on camera interview. But the county released a statement this afternoon, saying officials are reviewing the matter. And they say despite the withdrawal by Washington Township, the county hazmat team remains adequately staffed in the event of another disaster.





New Jersey Firefighters Angry Over Hazmat Exposure


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, Provider Wellness and Safety

 
What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Maryland Paramedic Recognized for Valor at Traumatic Crash

Medic worked on a firefighter pinned in a violent crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Bill Makes EMS Violence a Felony

Mandatory jail time for people convicted of assaulting an EMT or paramedic.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Michigan Ambulance Crash Causes Building Explosion

MMR ring crashed into a gas line at their company quarters.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Two Burned in Phoenix Tanker Fire

40,000-gallon rail car tanker explodes in industrial area.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

South Korea Ferry Disaster

Death toll expected to rise dramatically.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Boston Bombing Heroes

A look at four who became well known in the tragic bombing.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Fatal, Fiery California Bus Crash

Seven students and two drivers killed in crash.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >