ESTEVAN - The Estevan Fire Rescue Service introduced the latest addition to its equipment fleet on Sept. 5.
The hazardous materials response trailer became possible thanks to joint support from Kingston Midstream and SaskPower. The trailer carries the name of Dean Nagel, who was a firefighter in Estevan for decades. He passed away last year.
City officials – along with members of the fire service, representatives of Kingston Midstream and SaskPower and Nagel's family – gathered at the department to tour the trailer. Estevan Deputy Fire Chief Kyle Luc gave the guests a bit of background on the project.
"Last year we applied for funding through Kingston Midstream through the community grants. We also teamed up with SaskPower. With our new provincial standards coming in, we recognize the need for furthering our hazmat program in town, and we were fortunate enough to be granted money from Kingston Midstream and SaskPower," Luc said.
"Kingston Midstream wanted to do something for the department in memory of Dean, so the funds for this [trailer] are in memory of Dean Nagel as you can see on the trailer here. SaskPower kicked in, and they bought and donated a lot of equipment. So between the efforts of everybody, this is the trailer that we've come up with."
The trailer was already used in action when the fire department was called to a semi-truck rollover by Outram on Sept. 1. The crews used hazmat suits stored in the trailer to mitigate fluid leak at the scene, where they spent about five hours.
Dean Nagel's daughter Becky Kuntz said the family knew Kingston Midstream wanted to do something in memory of Dean ahead of time.
"We knew that they wanted to do something, do a donation, but they weren't sure what type of equipment. And when they heard that [the fire department] wanted this [hazmat response trailer], they chose to do the donation to this, and we heard a couple of weeks ago that it was ready to go," Kuntz said.
With this latest addition, according to the new Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency's guidelines coming into effect this year, the EFRS is nowfull service – the only one in the southeast, Luc said. That means that not only can they serve all of the Estevan area's needs, but they can also provide various mutual aid to other departments.
The new trailer has hazmat response equipment, as well as personal protective gear for different situations and decontamination tools. It allows the firefighters to do more when they are called to an emergency, which involves hazardous materials of different kinds.
"With all these things that we have now, all these spill kits here, if we were to go to a water treatment plant or something like that where there is, let's say, a chlorine leak in a pipe, we can take these clamps and put them around. If we had a hole inside of a pipe somewhere, these clamps go on, tighten it up, it's basically just a huge patch," Luc explained.
"Beforehand, if we ever responded to something like that, our mandate at the time would be – go find the nearest valve and isolate. We were all about isolate, we still isolate, but we isolate now a little more in the hot zone, because we have [required equipment].
"Or with tankers, like we were out the other day, if it's hauling any kind of flammables on it, before, same thing, we would go there, but we would actually have to have a hazmat team show up if we were going to bond and ground the truck. Now we have this grounding and bonding kit, so we can go out there, and we can make sure that when we're in there working, it's not going to go boom on us. The biggest thing is the mitigation," he added.
Luc noted that while most major companies do have their hazmat teams, the fire department still assists with emergencies. Besides, there are smaller operators which may require the EFRS' help, and there are situations like accidents and other emergencies where having a hazmat response trailer is very beneficial. He said in 2024 they plan on having further hazmat training to become even more efficient.
"Everyone's hazmat trained, but there're different levels. In order to go in and mitigate something like this, you need to be a hazardous materials technician. As the incident commander, I'm a technician. For someone to be in there, they would have to work underneath a tech. So, if we could send three or four people to Brandon to do their tech training, then we can team up all these people," Luc said, noting that if there are enough hazmat techs, others can work under their leadership in case of a major emergency, which would require a lot of people responding.
He noted that the Estevan fire department is well-established for any kind of emergencies, and expressed his gratitude to those who helped with the latest progress.
"Huge thanks to Kingston Midstream and SaskPower for making this happen. Without you guys things like this wouldn't be possible. And thanks to the Estevan Firefighters Association and the City of Estevan as well for always helping us out whenever we need," Luc said.