Firefighters and other first responders from agencies across the state continued hazardous materials (HAZMAT) certification classes at the Conway Expo Center and Fairgrounds on Monday.
The 80-hour certification, which the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) conducts three to four times a year, includes classroom time, labs and field experience culminating in a final exam Friday.
The final exam will consist of 50 questions and trainees must score at least 80 percent to receive the certification.
Some of the field exercises included donning HAZMAT suits while using tools to close valves, repair seals and more.
Conway Fire Department Engineer Steven Craig who is also a CFD HAZMAT instructor and an ADEM adjunct instructor said Monday’s exercise was mainly “to get them used to dexterity in the [HAZMAT] suits.”
“They’re big and bulky,” he said of the suits. “They are Level A suits that are totally encapsulated for chemical protection.”
Union Pacific provided a trailer equipped with the gauges and valves responders would encounter on a train emergency “so they can simulate what they would do a rail car,” Craig said.
The training began last week. On Friday, the state Fire Academy will administer the final exam and each student will be mailed their results.
Throughout the training, students receive job performance reviews (JPRs) on the field exercises.
“Everybody has a job in the scenarios,” Craig said.
The group spent an entire day on lab exercises where they categorize unknown products using a flame test and water solubility test.
Trainers for this class included Craig; Chris Foreman, ADEM training coordinator; and Toby Harrington, North Little Rock Fire Department engineer and ADEM adjunct instructor.
Students attending this certification class were from:Conway Fire Department. Faulkner County OEM (Office of Emergency Management). Saline County OEM. Vilonia Fire Department. Conway County 911. Little Rock Fire Department. North Little Rock Fire Department. Russellville Fire Department. Dallas County Sheriff’s Office. Hot Springs Fire Department.