A LATE night call to Exeter saw Newton Abbot Fire Staton mobilise its Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) for the second time in a week.

Alongside their colleagues from Danes Castle and Middlemoor, one appliance from Newton Abbot attended the incident on Saturday, August 26, which would turn out to be the second, large-scale decontamination incident for the EPU team in a week.

Before heading to Heavitree, crews gathered at Middlemoor Fire Station to receive a full brief on the situation: an old laboratory where various chemicals may have spilt or had degraded over time.

Newton Abbot Fire Station
(Photo by Newton Abbot Fire Station)

Due to the toxic and harmful nature of the chemicals, it was the decision of our HAZMAT advisors that crews would commit into the building; this was in order to assess the damage and situation of some of the more volatile chemicals and see if they would pose a threat to any members of the public.

In order for crews to be protected, two teams entered the building wearing full structural fire kit as well as Breathing Apparatus (BA) with a Gas Tight Suit (GTS) to provide maximum protection - they also took with them a variety of gas monitoring and detection equipment to help identify any leaks or vapours.

While crews got ready to be deployed, the crews from Newton Abbot inflated their Mass Decontamination unit, known as MD4, structure and completed all of the necessary pre-checks prior to its use.

A look inside the MD4 de-contamination unit
A look inside the MD4 de-contamination unit (Photo by Newton Abbot Fire Station)

The MD4 is effectively a large shower that can have varying detergents and cleaning chemicals pumped through it to deal with whatever hazardous materials an individual may be subjected to.

Once completing their wears inside the building, the GTS crews committed to the MD4 so that they could be properly decontaminated from a variety of chemicals.

'The incident was an overall success with varying agencies, as well as various HAZMAT officers and crews, working well together to achieve a positive outcome,' a spokesman for Newton Abbot Fire Station said.

'Several of the chemicals within the building had been damaged.

'Thankfully, however, all areas and liquids have now been made safe and present no further hazards' the spokesman added.