"Basically, anytime that we go into the smoke atmosphere, there's some kind of hazardous gas in ordinary smoke that's not going to be healthy to breathe," says Battalion Chief Johnny Kincaid
But today was no ordinary smoke. Polymer pellets burned inside the piping warehouse. Chlorine gas could be seen seeping from the building early this morning, all the way into the afternoon. The fumes are potentially harmful. Abilene firefighters, who came to help fight the flames in Hawley, were ready.
"We have to prepare for anything," says Lieutenant Goettsch of the Abilene Fire Department adding "We're kind of the agency of last resort. If it's something nobody else can deal with, it falls to us."
The department is equipped with a dedicated hazardous materials team. Every Abilene firefighter is trained to a technician's or operation's level in hazardous material response.
Goettsch says, "That way they know how to recognize a hazardous material. How to protect the public from it. And we train on that quite extensively each year."
And luckily are well prepared for this sort of situation.
Their number one priority: Making sure there are no victims. Their second: Going in and out as safely as possible.
Goettsch says, "We don't want to contribute any of our folks to the victim list either. You're not helping anybody's situation if you're creating more victims."