NEWBURYPORT – Chief Christopher LeClaire reports the success of a multi-jurisdictional training session designed to help firefighters better respond to environmental spills.
Two dozen firefighters from four departments – Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley and Salisbury – and representatives of the Newburyport Harbormaster Department attended classes on Tuesday, May 11.
At the North End Boat Club, first responders learned the basic theory of containing an oil spill and practiced with spill containment equipment.
At Cashman Park, the group participated in a drill simulating a chemical spill on the Merrimack River. The drill tested the ability to deploy spill equipment, and reinforced effective communication among multiple responding agencies.
About 50 pounds of peat moss was dumped in the Merrimack River to simulate a quick-moving chemical spill. Firefighters from Newbury and Rowley coordinated equipment deployment from the shore, while firefighters in boats from Newburyport and Salisbury tactically positioned inflatable containment booms.
“Fire safety is an emergency response, but it’s also an environmental response. We all have a responsibility to protect the environment,” Chief LeClaire said. “A spill could happen anywhere, on the river, fuel oil from a car on a road or on the highway.”
The state, through the Department of Environmental Protection’s Marine Oil Spill Prevention and Response Program, has provided all 83 coastal communities with a trailer equipped with tools – inflatable booms, rebars, buoys, markers and absorbent pads – that would be used during an environmental response.
Moran Environmental Recovery is contracted by DEP to provide trailers and equipment. Training was provided by MER and Nuka Research and Planning Group.
“This training helps us to successfully control these situations and protect our fragile environments,” Chief LeClaire said. “We thank the state for its continued support and for providing this training.”