Firefighters with the Iowa City Fire Department recently completed training to better equip them for situations involving hazardous materials.

The department partnered with the Iowa Interstate Railroad, using its Webster St. facility, to simulate three scenarios in the rail yard where crews practiced using specialized equipment to help determine whether or not to enter a scene.

“Crews have been learning to use what is called a hazmat quick kit,” Lt. Branden Sobaski said. “It’s an instrument much like what you would use in an airplane cockpit, to guide you into a situation where there is a potential life-safety risk and identify your course of action.”  

Two scenarios involved a person down near a railcar with an unknown substance at the scene. The third scenario involved detection and research of the type of chemical that was present.

Fire officials say the overall goal of the training is to get firefighters comfortable in an unusual environment, and to practice using equipment and working through decisions involving potentially hazardous materials.

The training lasted three days in April, one day for each fire shift.

Questions can be directed to Battalion Chief Greg Tinnes at or by calling the Fire Department at 319-356-5255.

A video of the training is available for viewing on YouTube. 

Date of publication

Friday, May 05, 2017