Topeka firefighters participate in special Hazmat training

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Accidents sometimes happen, and if there’s ever a gasoline spill, anthrax scare, or other hazardous chemical involved, a special team of firefighters has to be ready to respond.

In order to prepare, those Hazmat teams have to train, which is exactly what the Topeka unit did Thursday.

Working alongside the National Guard’s Civil Support Team, Topeka firefighters tested chemical samples, learned to use new equipment and practiced real life rescue techniques.

“It’s hard to work in those suits, you have typically three pairs of gloves on and if you’re actually documenting and following evidence and collecting evidence, then you want to make sure that everything, all the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted,” said Michael Dupigny-Leigh, an advanced firefighter for the City of Topeka.

Dupigny-Leigh says the skills he’s learned through exercises like that have come in handy more than once, “We work with TPD a lot on drug houses that they might not know what certain materials are and we have to come in and test them. Overturned barrels on the side of the highway, or somebody might just dump somewhere.”

They have to be ready for anything.

“We have a major highway that runs through, we have a railroad that runs through. All of those carry containers that transport all kinds of hazardous materials. You could have something as simple as chemicals mixing together in your home that create a situation, so it’s always best to be prepared,” said Chris Herrera, Battalion Chief for the City of Topeka Fire Department.

Which is also why brand new recruits were on hand observing how hazardous materials have to be handled.

Something firefighters say, could one day impact you.

“It could save their life. That’s the bottom line. We’re here to save lives,” said Herrera.

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