LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - If there is a hazardous materials spill, it has to be cleaned up safely, and the Longview Fire Department has a new tool to do just that.
Their new Special Operations Trailer doesn’t just respond in Longview. It can be sent anywhere in the 14-county region under the umbrella of the East Texas Council of Governments.
According to LFD Capt. Ryan Howard, the Special Operations Hazardous Materials Trailer is stored and maintained by the Longview Fire Department, but it belongs to East Texas.
“The East Texas Council of Governments gets so much money every year from Homeland Security for different projects in the region. And they were generous enough to allocate quite a bit of money for this trailer so that we could really improve our response,” Howard said.
They have been busy moving some of the equipment from the old hazmat truck into the new trailer.
“Self contained breathing apparatus so that we can breathe in a contaminated atmosphere. So stuff to protect us, stuff to clean us up after we have been in that environment," Howard said. “We have offensive tools, so tools that we would go in and fix or mitigate whatever’s going on.”
They also have sampling equipment that will tell them what the hazardous material is, so it’s a pretty complete unit and includes:
“Investigation, cleanup, mitigation, decontamination, all those types of things. We’re set up also if there’s an incident where we had a lot of people that were exposed or contaminated in some type of event where we can decontaminate them quickly,” Howard said.
Howard adds that the previous equipment was put together a while ago.
“About 15 years ago, maybe a little longer actually,” Howard clarified.
The custom-built trailer is equipped with some updated gear. The old hazmat equipment was on a truck, so why now a trailer?
“If the truck were to break down or have to go in for routine maintenance, all of our equipment then was at the shop,” Howard said.
If a truck breaks down, well, they can use a different one to get the trailer to the scene much more quickly than packing it into a different vehicle.
Howard says what could be classified as potential terrorism doesn’t happen very often in East Texas, but the Special Ops Trailer is equipped for radiation and biological agent response as well as other hazardous materials.
ETGOC consists of Smith, Harrison, Rusk, Panola, Rains, Wood, Cherokee, Henderson, Anderson, Camp, Van Zandt, Marion, Gregg, and Upshur counties.