Members of the Owensboro Fire Department are expanding their knowledge in dealing with hazardous materials and keeping the public safe.

OFD Battalion Chief Colter Tate said members from the International Association of Fire Fighters, a labor union based in Washington, D.C., are conducting an 80-hour training session on hazardous materials.

The training that began Monday is expected to continue through this week and next. Tate said seven new firefighters and eight veterans are participating in the training.

The training will help the firefighters respond to an incident where hazardous materials are involved, such as a spill or leak.

“It’s going to expand their knowledge and skills for responding to these types of incidents,” he said.

“They’ll be able to analyze the situation, plan a response, implement a response,” he said.

Tate said the training is paid for through a Department of Homeland Security grant and numerous grants went to other fire departments across the country.

All OFD firefighters receive a 40-hour Hazardous Materials Technician training, Tate said. Programs like the Kentucky Fire Commission offer training to fire departments across the state.

James Howard, OFD chief, said the training is important not just for Owensboro, but the surrounding area.

“It’s really important we have a lot of responders trained” because there’s a high stake in the whole area, he said.

Hazardous materials can include numerous solids, gas, liquids and radiological material, Howard said, and are broken down into nine classes.

“There’s a wide range,” he said.

Vehicles transporting hazardous materials usually have diamond-shaped placards indicating if the material is flammable, explosive and radioactive. The placards can also convey if the material is an explosive, a toxic or a corrosive.

The placards are required by the Department of Transportation and are used when transporting dangerous materials, according to federal law.

The training will help firefighters decode the information on the placards and know the appropriate action to take depending on the material.

Numerous hazardous materials are transported through Owensboro on a regular basis through a variety of ways, including rail, Howard said.

“Most of our community aren’t aware of all the different things that come through our community,” he said.

Trey Crumbie, 270-691-7297, tcrumbie@messenger-inquirer.com.

Trey Crumbie, 270-691-7297, tcrumbie@messenger-inquirer.com.

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