Atmore gets hazmat suits
Arthur McLean Editor
The Atmore Fire Department received some new equipment from Escambia County's portion of homeland security funds this week.
The fire department received six level B contamination protection suits and a number of specialized gas masks, from Escambia County Emergency Management.
The suits and masks will increase the department's capability in the event the department must respond to a toxic chemical spill, said David Jennings, director of Emergency Management for the county.
"We're very excited about what we'll be able to do with the funds coming in for homeland security," Jennings said.
So far, county has concentrated on providing the more specialized equipment to its municipal departments in Brewton, Atmore and Poarch. Jennings said departments like Atmore have shown they are willing to assist the area's rural fire departments who may not be able to take advantage of the specialized equipment the county is purchasing.
County Commissioners Wiley Tait and Junior Hall have made it a priority to get these homeland security funds, intended to help increase the response capability of smaller fire departments in counties like Escambia.
"Fire departments aren't thought of much until they are needed when something happens, but people really appreciate them and get a better understanding of what these men and women do when they come out to help," Hall said.
Jennings said the suits were especially important in Atmore "with so many chemicals coming through on the highways and railroad, and accident might happen in the future, and we need to be prepared."
Mayor Howard Shell said he appreciated the county's efforts in securing the homeland security funds. "Just a few weeks ago, a train came through town, and spread coal through the center of our town. Next time, it could be something much worse. Equipment like this will help us respond quickly and effectively to that kind of situation," Shell said.
The next round of homeland security funds is expected to be released later this year. Jennings said plans are already in place to provide the city with a hazardous materials response trailer in addition to other equipment purchases around the county.