Fairchild Airmen assist in Spokane chemical incident

Kimo Kuheana, 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief, speaks with civilian counterparts on Aug. 12, 2015, after a chemical leak at the Pacific Steel and Recycling plant in Spokane, Wash. | Courtesy of DVIDS
Following a gas leak Wednesday, airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base offered their assistance to local fire department and other emergency personnel.

According to the report, an unmarked 55-gallon drum had been placed on a crushing machine at the Pacific Steel and Recycling Plant in Spokane, Washington, resulting in the release of a yellow- and green-colored gas that caused immediate respiratory distress to those present at the scene. The incident required four people to be hospitalized and a potential 17 others downwind from the incident site.

According to Fire Chief of the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron Kimo Kuheana, this was an incident that required collaboration between multiple response agencies in order to resolve and decontaminate the area.

“What I like about this is we train nearly every day and, despite any manning issues we or any of the other agencies may have, we’re able to come together as one unified hazardous material team,” Kuheana said. “Incorporating all the different agencies together is huge for our community.”

Initially Fairchild Fire Department personnel were on the scene followed by members of the 92nd Medical Group's bioenvironmental team and its Civil Engineer Squadron.

“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate Fairchild’s willingness to help us out,” Lieutenant D.J. Hill, Fire Station 1 hazardous material coordinator, said.

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