Tribune-Courier News Editor
CALVERT CITY — Firefighters and emergency responders in the Calvert Industrial Mutual Aid Program spend every Wednesday in October training.
CIMAP is made up of firefighters with a mutual aid pact from the following plants: Air Products, Arkema, Brenntag Mid-South, Carbide Industries, CC Metals and Alloys, Celanese, Cymtech, Evonic Degussa Corporation, Estron Chemical, ISP Chemicals, Waste Path Sanitary Landfull, Gerdau Ameristeel, Lubrizol Advanced Materials, Westlake Chemical Corporation and Westlake PVC.
“For the past five years we’ve been spending time in training sessions to train with other members of CIMAP, prepare response plans for each member and work toward readiness for a mock disaster drill in November,” said Todd Henson, senior safety engineer at Ashland Chemicals and vice-president of CIMAP.
Henson said the CIMAP agreement allows plants to call upon firefighters and equipment from other plants in event of fire or explosion. CIMAP also includes the Calvert City Fire Department, Calvert City Police, Marshall County Emergency Management and the Local Emergency Planning Commission.
With regular communication among CIMAP plants, firefighters learn about unique risks, techniques and challenges in each plant, Henson said.
Training last week offered programs on pressure fires, aerial evacuation and a discussion of mutual needs and abilities from each department. The fourth program offered responders tours of Estron Chemical, Detroit Energy, Simultech and Lumbrizol.
“The tours allow firefighters to identify points of ingress and egress and all aspects of emergency response in a plant,” Henson said.
For additional training, CIMAP responders have worked with Kentucky’s Hazardous Materials Team 1 and the Kentucky Fire Commission. Both groups brought props and equipment.
Randy Johnson, head of the emergency response team at Ashland, taught the pressure fire simulation. The training prop included a liquified propane tank with a ruptured and burning line. Nearby was a collection of propane pipes configured like a Christmas tree.
Johnson said firefighters had to cool the tank to prevent an explosion and suppress flames long enough to turn off the propane supply.
“All the things they are doing here, they would do in a plant,” Johnson said. “We’re talking about life-safety, sizing up the scene, moving in [self-contained breathing apparatuses]. It’s good hand’s-on training. The only thing we don’t have here that could be needed in a plant is foam.”
Johnson added training together allowed firefighters from all plants time to work as a team, making an actual emergency response much more cohesive.