Several volunteers experienced the same mass decontamination
procedure Tuesday that firefighters would use in the event of a
chemical or biological terrorist attack.
As a pair of Burbank Fire engines sprayed a heavy mist toward one
another, mock victims stripped down to swimming trunks walked through
the “decontamination corridor” while spinning. From there, they were
met by HazMat crews in green protective suits who covered the victims
in a plastic sack and hurried them off to a designated triage area.
The demonstration was intended to showcase techniques being taught
to firefighters statewide as part of the Terrorism Consequence
The program, sponsored by the California Fire Fighter Joint
Apprenticeship Committee, is designed to train a handful of people
from every fire department in the state. Those who receive the
training will eventually train their fellow firefighters.
Twelve Burbank firefighters have already undergone training, and
the rest of the department will begin training next month, Battalion
Chief Mario Gagnon said. He added that such training programs are a
good way to educate firefighters without having to pay overtime
“We’ve done the “train the trainer” programs before, but never to
this magnitude,” Gagnon said.
The techniques demonstrated Tuesday are among the most effective
way for firefighters to remove any chemical or biological agent from
a person’s body in the moments following an attack, fire officials
The program focuses on how firefighters can use the resources they
have on a daily basis to respond in the first 20 minutes to a weapons
of mass destruction attack. Fire Chief Mike Davis said the techniques
are relatively new to the fire service.
“Since 9-11, we’ve seen a whole new type of threat emerge that we
have to deal with,” he said.
Given budget cuts to almost all departments, Davis programs like
the one showcased Tuesday are even more valuable.
“It’s a great way to fund training we would not be able to fund
through our local budget,” he said.