HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INCIDENT Hydrocarbon Technologies Inc.,
1501 New York Avenue, Lawrence Township
During the afternoon of Thursday, July 17, 2003, members of Lawrence Road Fire Co. responded to their second hazardous materials incident in as many days when they were called to assist Slackwood Fire Co. at the scene of a spill involving a highly flammable chemical at Hydrocarbon Technologies Inc.
Slackwood firefighters were dispatched to the Hydrocarbon facility at 1501 New York Avenue at 3:07 p.m. after employees there called 911 to report the spill.
Slackwood Chief Mark Lenarski responded at 3:10 p.m. and reached the scene one minute later. Engine 21-1 signed on radio at 3:12 p.m. and arrived at 3:13 p.m.
Slackwood firefighters were informed that Hydrocarbon employees had been using a forklift to move skids of 55-gallon drums containing different chemicals when the bottom of one of the drums broke and started to leak its liquid contents of dimethyl disulphide. The bottom of the drum appeared to have been corroded.
Dimethyl disulphide is very flammable, can be poisonous if inhaled or absorbed through the skin, and can also irritate or burn the skin and eyes, according to the Department of Transportationís Emergency Response Guide.
At 3:15 p.m., Lenarski ordered the Mercer County Central Communications Center to dispatch the Trenton Fire Departmentís HazMat task force to the scene. Trenton Battalion Chiefs Greg Gore and Richard Farletta and Rescue 1, Ladder 1 and Engine 1 all responded at 3:18 p.m. and arrived on location by 3:21 p.m.
At 3:22 p.m., an ambulance from Lawrence First Aid Squad was dispatched to the scene to stand by.
The drum that was leaking the dimethyl disulphide was located near the rear of the Hydrocarbon property, in the middle of rows of stacked drums that contained various different chemicals. Engine 21-1 was directed to take a position at the rear of the Hydrocarbon complex but at a safe distance from the leaking drum.
After Trenton HazMat personnel assessed the situation, two 1.75-inch hoselines were stretched from Engine 21-1. One of the hoselines was charged with foam and the other was charged with tank water.
At 3:27 p.m., Lenarski directed Mercer County Central to dispatch Engine 22 to assist with water supply.
Engine 22 was toned out at 3:28 p.m. and responded at 3:35 p.m. with Assistant Chief Wayne Hannon in command, Ff. Steven Amiott driving, and a crew made up of Lt. Michael Ratcliffe, Ff. Edward Kitchen, Junior Ff. Steven Hodgdon and Junior Ff. Chris Foley. Engine 22 arrived on location at 3:39 p.m.
Engine 22 was ordered to pass by the Trenton apparatus (which was staged along New York Avenue at Puritan Avenue) and enter the Hydrocarbon complex. Engine 22 was then directed to back down an alleyway located between several buildings.
Engine 22ís crew, assisted by some Slackwood firefighters, then back-stretched 5-inch supply hose to Engine 21-1. Engine 22 then laid out to a hydrant located on New York Avenue near Hydrocarbonís front gate. A total of 700 feet of 5-inch hose was used to complete the lay and allow Amiott pump water up to Engine 21-1.
Hannon, Ratcliffe, and Kitchen were then ordered to report to Engine 21-1 with full turnout gear, SCBA and Engine 22ís portable dry chemical extinguisher.
After they reached Engine 21-1, they were told by Gore to stand by as a rescue team while the Trenton HazMat members and Slackwood firefighters approached the leaking drum wearing full turnout gear and breathing from their SCBAs.
While Trenton firefighters worked to contain the spilled chemical and off-load the remaining material into a new container, one crew of Slackwood firefighters spayed a blanket of foam around the entire area, while a second Station 21 crew stood by with the other water-filled hoseline as a precaution.
At 3:58 p.m., Lenarski directed Mercer County Central to dispatch Rescue 22 to the scene for cascade duties. Engine 21, meanwhile, responded one minute later and arrived on location at 4:01 p.m.
Rescue 22 signed on radio at 4:05 p.m. and reached the scene at 4:08 p.m. with Ff. Martin Burch in command, Ff. Charles Commini driving, and a crew consisting of Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., Ff. Matt Farletta, and Junior Ff. R.J. Laird. (Rescue 22ís crew eventually used the cascade system to refill six SCBA bottles.)
After a while, Slackwood firefighters ran low on air, so Ratcliffe and Kitchen were sent in to relieve them. Ratcliffe took the water line, while Kitchen manned the foam line. They stood by as HazMat members finished up.
By 4:25 p.m. the scene was declared to be safe and the incident under control. At that point, Lenarski gave the order to begin taking up the hoselines and all other equipment. Trentonís apparatus left the scene by 4:35 p.m.
After helping Slackwood firefighters break down, drain and roll their two 1.75-inch hoselines, Lawrence Road crews shut down 5-inch supply line and (with help from Station 21 personnel) picked up the heavy hose.
Engine 22 and Rescue 22 both cleared the scene by 4:55 p.m. and were both back in quarters at Station 22 by 7:02 p.m. (During the incident, Telesquirt 23 from Lawrenceville Fire Co. covered Station 21, while Engine 32-1 from Pennington Road Fire Co. stood by at Station 22.)