Firefighters discuss ammonia safety

YUMA, Ariz.- Hundreds of firefighters throughout the desert southwest came out to the Yuma Civic Center to learn from the leading ammonia experts about the uses and dangers of ammonia on Ammonia Safety Day.

“The idea is everyone goes home at the end of the day in the same condition or better than when they came into work,” said Don Tragethon, a speaker at the event today.

More than 300 firefighters and ammonia experts were at the the event including 40 firefighters from Mexico. It is the biggest turn out since the annual event started 12 years ago.

“The turnout this year is the best we have seen and having the colleagues come over from over the border is very good,” said Tragethon.

There were vendors and classes discussing the various ways to handle ammonia safely.

Ammonia is commonly found in household cleaners, but it is also used for water purification and agriculture.

Mike Erfert with he City of Yuma Fire Department says ammonia is a very important facet for Yuma agriculture, “Ammonia is very useful and a very important part in the Yuma agricultural industry,” said Erfert, “But it is something that has to be handled very carefully and the consequences are great.”

In 2011, 13 people in Yuma were injured do to a ammonia rupture that sent two people two a Phoenix area hospital.

Tragethon says four years ago an incident similar had occurred. He says in his 30 years of experience it was the worst he has seen.

“We had a very serious accident that almost killed one of our guys.” But with the proper training and awareness, the man was able to treat himself before the situation became worse.

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