MERRILL - Would responders in Lincoln County know how to best handle a hazardous material spill in their area?
It might depend on where that spill happens.
A study for a county committee found a big gap in how prepared certain departments might be to handle hazardous materials.
For the most part, professional fire departments and law enforcement are trained well to respond.
But volunteer fire departments often lack training and awareness for hazardous materials.
Bruce Fuerbringer, the study's organizer, found the same trend in many counties across the state.
"Since 9/11, hazardous materials, the awareness of it has gradually declined, because there aren't a lot of incidents," said Fuerbringer, whose company is called 5 Bugle Training & Consulting.
Less awareness often means less training.
Fuerbringer says initiatives with few active situations, like hazardous materials, deserve even more training for potential responders.
The project also surveyed what kinds of hazardous chemicals are moving through Lincoln County by truck, train, or pipeline.
Observation sessions spotted 11 specifically identified hazardous chemicals moving on Lincoln County roads.
That information is important for departments to prepare for an accident.
"If you have a chemical that is vaporizing and you have a plume going somewhere, responders have to know the characteristics of the chemical to identify what public might be in danger," Fuerbringer said.
Large amounts of gasoline, diesel, and propane are the most common hazardous materials moving through Lincoln County.