EAST PALESTINE Grant will aid in fire department's Haz-Mat emergencies
East Palestine and East Liverpool have the two Haz-Mat units in the county.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
EAST PALESTINE -- An $86,137 federal grant will boost the East Palestine Fire Department's ability to deal with hazardous-material emergencies.
The grant is from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's assistance to firefighters program.
Fire Chief Brett Todd said the rail line through the downtown, just yards from the Clark Street fire station in fact, is his biggest safety concern because of the potential for a Haz-Mat emergency. Not only hazardous materials in rail cars, but the thousands of gallons of fuel in the engines themselves are a potential threat, he said.
With trains rumbling through town about every 20 minutes, he estimates about two million rail cars go through town each year.
East Palestine and East Liverpool fire departments have the two Haz-Mat response teams in the county. About 18 East Palestine firefighters are Haz-Mat-certified, he said.
Putting funds to use
Todd said he will use some of the grant to purchase miscellaneous Haz-Mat equipment such a laptop computer and printer for the Haz-Mat response trailer. Some will be used for gloves and boots to complement the new Haz-Mat suits the department was able to purchase with county funds. The FEMA grant will also buy about 200 gallons of foam. Firefighters used foam instead of water when fighting petroleum-based fires, he explained.
A compressor system used to fill the air tanks on the self-contained breathing apparatus equipment, and extra air tanks will also be purchased with the grant, he said. The compressor system is more than 30 years old, so a new one is desperately needed, he said.
Todd said he will also price rescue air bags that firefighters use to lift heavy objects in emergencies. Bags are made to lift several tons, and Todd said he hopes the grant will pay for one able to lift a railroad car if needed.