Several local fire departments held a hazardous materials drill early Saturday morning at the Riverhead sewage treatment plant.
The drill, involving the Riverhead, Eastport and Southampton Fire Departments as well as the Brookhaven Town fire marshals, simulated a toxic gas – chlorine, in this drill – seeping from a broken container after a traffic accident.
Riverhead Fire Department press officer Bill Sanok said the drills like the one on Saturday help the department prepare for real incidents, like the mysterious irritant that hospitalized several employees at the old post office downtown in February.
“When you get a situation like we had” at the post office, “you need to be ready for anything,” Mr. Sanok said.
Firefighters met at the Moose Lodge at about 9 a.m. to start the procedure. A staged 911 call came in soon after to start the simulated emergency. Riverhead fire chiefs and ambulance volunteers went to the scene and were joined by teams of firefighters who suited up in bio-hazard suits to fix the leak.
The firefighters also had to care for “victims” suffering from the effects of the fake gas. During the drill, evaluators from the county graded the firefighters on their performance.
After the victims were rescued and the leak contained, the volunteers gathered at the Riverhead Fire Department to review their drill.