New Training For Firefighters Designed In Wake Of West Disaster

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COLLEGE STATION - Officials say Texas should consider requiring training for volunteer firefighters, and that agencies at all levels must prepare better for incidents like the explosion.

The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service is already offering new education programs as a result of last year's tragedy in West.

KBTX-TV in Bryan has been looking into that with some of the lessons learned.

Of the 15 people killed in the West blast 12 were firefighters.

Now work is underway to help educate paid and volunteer firefighters on how to better handle these types of emergencies.

The West fertilizer explosion just a little over a year ago was a wake up call for first responders and the need for more training particularly for smaller and volunteer fire departments.

"The responders responded in a manner that they were trained and how they were equipped," said Gordon Lohmeyer, who is with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service's Emergency Services Training Institute.

They train tens of thousands of people each year

They are now offering a new class in the wake of West.

"The Industrial Emergencies for Municipal-Based Responders will better equip our response community to handle those non-traditional emergencies, those non-structural fires. And it deals with incident action plans, standard operating procedures, water supplies, foam calculations, incident command systems, mutual aid type agreements and response plans. And it’s really a good tool to help the responder to focus on these new hazards that we will encounter as we move forward," said Lohmeyer.

TEEX is also partnering with the State Fire Marshal's Office to help educate people how to safely handle ammonium nitrate. So far they've been to about 40 communities meeting with firefighters, city managers and stake holders.

"So they are getting a tremendous opportunity to obtain some new knowledge to keep them safe, to keep their community safe," said Lohmeyer.

The State Fire Marshal's Office will make a presentation about how to manage ammonium nitrate on at 6 p.m. on June 25 at Bryan High School.