A blog post written by Stephen Pike, managing director at UK-based Argon Electronics, recently examined the HazMat risks that accompany industrial chemical incidents.
Pike maintains chemical manufacturing facilities present potential hazards that, if not properly addressed, could place workers and the communities where those facilities are at risk.
Pike’s post acknowledges response training has been a requirement for new firefighters in the UK and America for years but adds there is also increasing recognition of the need for ongoing refresher training to ensure that personnel maintain their knowledge and competencies.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said there are approximately 13,500 chemical manufacturing facilities in America comprised of a combination of commodity plants and specialty-batch or performance chemical manufacturers who produce smaller quantities of more expensive products on an as-required basis.
A report composed in January noted the UK’s chemical industry ranks as one of the top global producers, comprising 2,500 small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Pike wrote the potentially deadly consequences of accidental exposure to industrial chemicals was realized by events that unfolded at an agricultural chemical plant in West Texas in 2013, where a large fire and subsequent explosion at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility resulted in the deaths of ten firefighters and five civilians.
Officials said fire and rescue services must develop policies and procedures that best support first responders’ understanding of foreseeable hazards and their risks concerning industrial chemical incidents.