Emergency Response to Non-Fire Related Event
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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  Savannah River Nuclear Solutions - SRNS, Savannah River Site (SRNS)

Published As:  Public

Date: 

Topics:  Emergency Management, Fire Protection

Operations was in the process of receiving freight from a suppliers truck that contained totes of a 28% ammonia solution. Upon opening the door to the trailer, a very strong ammonia smell escaped from the trailer and out into the facility. Building roof exhaust fans where turned on and personnel where asked to leave the general vicinity. Other responding personnel entered the facility and upon smelling the ammonia immediately activated the closest Fire Alarm Pull Station. This action was taken primarily to evacuate the entire building. The activation of the Fire Alarm pull station provided an immediate fire alarm signal and soon after a PA announcement indicating that a fire alarm had been received, directing personnel to leave the building.

The Fire Department soon responded with gear and equipment suitable for fighting a fire. Upon arrival the Fire Department learned the event was an ammonia vapor concern and not a fire. Fire Department personnel then had to make necessary adjustments to their response method to appropriately deal with the concern.

Lessons Learned: It was noted by the Fire Department that they could have responded more appropriately had they known the true nature of the emergency. A HazMat equipped team could have responded instead. The Fire Department recommended that a call to the SRSOC either initially or immediately following activation of the Fire Alarm Pull Station would have provided clarification as to the type emergency they would be responding to. This would have allowed them to bring all appropriate gear and equipment needed to respond to the actual emergency situation.

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