BNSF presents $25k check to hazmat team

BNSF Railway Executive Director of Public Affairs Michael Garriga presents a hazmat check to the Marion County Hazmat Team. From left are Garriga, Marion County Assistant EMA Director Blake Farley, Bryant Rye, Winfield Fire Chief Alan Stovall and Representative Tracy Estes

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer

WINFIELD — The Marion County Hazmat Team was presented with a $25,000 check from BNSF Railway on Wednesday, June 26, at the Winfield city fire station.
The grant will go toward the purchase of protective equipment for the Marion County Hazmat Team, which responds to incidents where hazardous materials (hazmat) are involved.
The hazmat teams own three trailers, two smaller ones and one main trailer. That main trailer is the one that will hold new gear purchased with grant funds.
“This grant will help us buy the equipment to go in there so we can respond to hazardous material situations, which can be anything from the recent asphalt spill to a train car derailing and spilling,” Assistant EMA Director Blake Farley said. “We have facilities throughout the county that deal with this, so we will respond to it.
“This (equipment) is very expensive, and with hazmat—it’s kind of like the recent tornado. You prepare and prepare and prepare for it to happen, and it may never happen.
“But, if it happens tomorrow, we want to be prepared so we can protect the citizens of Marion County.
“It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
Farley said hazmat has purchased a lot of what it needs, but is still working on building up resources to respond to potential hazmat situations.
Farley said the two smaller trailers can respond to common calls, such as fuel spills, but the larger trailer is for serious incidents.
“The smaller ones can handle fuel spills, and that’s mostly what we deal with, but the main trailer is for when that skull and crossbones placard is driving down the road and turns over.”
Farley said the hazmat team is roughly halfway toward obtaining all the gear they need for the main trailer.
“Right now we have a total of 15 level A suits, which are fully encapsulated and vapor locking, which means when you’re in them, there’s no air that comes in or out,” he said.
“Then we also have level B’s, which are basically just coveralls that keep splashes off of you.
“In the future, we still need stuff. One of the things we have on the way is a train car kit to help us cap train cars if they’re leaking.
“It’s also simple things, like buying 2x4s, drills, screws and saws, because when you get on scene with this stuff, it’s not like responding to fire.
“With a fire, we put our turnout gear on, we’ve got hoses and water, and we know what we’re going to do. It’s consistent.
“But when you get into hazmat, you’ve got to think outside the box. It could be as simple as us building boxes with screens to stop a spill of something.
“The tech trailer here is at about 40 percent capacity. We can respond right now if we needed to, but to truly have what we need, I’d say we’re at about 40 percent. We’d rather over-prepare for something than under-prepare.
“We just want to thank BNSF for getting the grant and for people like (Winfield Fire Chief Alan) Stovall, Representative Tracy Estes and Mayor Randy Price for allowing us to pursue things and the citizens of Marion County for the tax dollars that allow us to purchase the things that we can.”
Michael Garriga, BNSF Railway executive director of public affairs, said he was grateful to present the grant check to Marion County Hazmat…

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