ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) – Albemarle County and Charlottesville are both working to make sure first responders are equipped to handle situations involving hazardous chemicals.The Greenwood Chemical Company, along with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, walked several firefighters through a fluorine leak scenario at their facility in Albemarle County Tuesday.
Using water, the scenario mimicked a leak inside of a building. Firefighters suited up in hazmat gear to find out where the leak was coming from.
“Fluorine is a pretty bad actor and it’s so reactive that if it touches your skin directly it pulls all of the calcium out, which would in essence melt your skin,” said Charlottesville Fire Training Officer John Burruss.
Once firefighters left the building, they were sprayed down in a wash station to make sure none of the fluorine was on their suits.
“If you don’t get the chemicals off you actually will hurt our brothers and sisters in the fire services. As they step off from the [decontamination], they’ll spread it around everybody who is outside of the hot zone and it can life threatening,” explained Cody Gillispie with Albemarle County Fire Rescue.
Once the leak is contained, the people responsible for making this type of chemical are responsible for hiring an outside contractor to clean up what has leaked out.
Firefighters say participating in this training prepares them for real life scenarios.