Duluth Fire Undergoes Hazmat Training

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The Duluth Fire Department was selected to partake in a safety training and response strategies class this week to prepare for hazmat situations over water. Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Duluth were the only cities chosen for this three-day-long training.

Technical Services Coordinator Rob Morehouse believes that this training is a need that the city has had for a long time.

“We do have the highways that cross the river, and we’ve got railroads right next to it,” Morehouse explained. “We’ve got a refueling station right on the river, and several boats that come in and out of our port every day.”

A Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grant funded the training, with support from Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, Burlington Northern & Sante Fe Railway, and Union Pacific. As part of this training, the Duluth Fire Department was provided with a 1,000 foot boom as well as a trailer to keep it in.

“Getting the boom that all the class one railroads provided us to do this exercise and respond in the future is really a feather in our cap for the Twin Ports,” said Morehouse.

Containment boom is a floating barrier used to contain large hazmat or chemical spills, provided that the spills float. A quick response is crucial in this type of situation, but using the boom does not remove the spill. The goal is to prevent it from spreading further in order to protect lives.

This safety and response training was the first of its kind that the Duluth Fire Department has participated in, adding one more hazmat asset to their extensive toolkit.

“This has just been a great opportunity to work with the railroad and with the state fire marshalls so we look forward to getting to do more of these drills in the future,” stated Morehouse.

The Duluth Fire Department will sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the railroad companies to use and maintain the trailer and the boom. The equipment will be available for use within the Twin Ports.