Transportable pods assist Hazmat response in the West Midlands

Photo: Michael Scott. 

Photo: Michael Scott.

Wildlife and the environment are set for even greater protection in the West Midlands during incidents such as large fires, oil spills or chemical leaks.

An ongoing partnership between the Environment Agency and West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) means that specialist kit for dealing with hazardous materials and environmental threats can now be deployed to incidents.

The two Hazardous Materials and Environmental Protection Units (HMEPUs) are based at Willenhall and Hay Mills fire stations, where all of the firefighters have been trained in how to use them. They will be sent to fires and other incidents throughout the West Midlands.

They carry kit including inflatable drain blockers, oil and chemical booms, hazardous substance pumps and generators, specialist clothing and a decontamination shower.

Crew Commander Jim Grove of WMFS said, “Many of the emergencies we attend involve potential threat to the environment, and it’s crucial that we work closely with the Environment Agency to minimise those risks and try to avoid harming watercourses, wildlife and fish.

“We used to have four separate ‘haz mats’ and environmental units, but have now merged them all into two transportable pods. We now have far more firefighters trained to use them, thanks to the Environment Agency’s support.”

Gary Tarling of the Environment Agency added, “It’s great that we have been able to work closely with West Midlands Fire Service to commission these new units, which are crucial where a rapid response is required to protect the environment.

“They’re equipped with all the kit needed to deal with a wide variety of pollution incidents, which will enable the fire service to intervene and prevent pollutants from entering and causing an impact on the environment.”