Fire departments train with real ammonia for emergency preparedness
The Yuma, San Luis, and MCAS Yuma Fire Departments participated in drills to prepare for ammonia leaks
YUMA, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) - "Over 750,000 pounds of ammonia is stored in Yuma at any given time," according to Tony Badilla with the County Department of Emergency Management.
The chemical is used for refrigeration and fertilizer; both vital to our ag industry.
With the prominence of the chemical locally, our first responders are training to make sure they’re ready in case of an emergency.
“Prevent them all or stop them small,” Gary Welch with the Yuma Fire Department said.
Crews trained with real ammonia gas near the Gila Ridge Transfer Site.
Being the lettuce capital of the world, Badilla keeps a close eye on the chemical.
“We use ammonia for the refrigerant in our cooling facilities for the produce,” Badilla said.
According to the CDC exposure to high levels of ammonia can cause burns on the skin, eyes, and lungs.
While rare, death due to ammonia exposure is possible.
The Yuma Fire Department says it’s important for public safety agencies to know the specific risks their communities could face.
“There’s a strong likelihood we’ll have an emergency in the near future or down the road," Welch said. "Training like this is what prepares us for those emergencies.”
Fire crews from Minnesota, Texas, Nebraska, and Canada also participated.