Reference Resources

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Hazardous Materials Exposures

Major highways in the district for transportation of hazardous materials include U.S. Highways 6, 34, and 83. Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad goes through the initial response areas. An above ground natural gas pipeline also exists in the fire district. Fixed facilities include two ethanol plants; Agricultural facilities for propane, anhydrous ammonia, and pesticides; and Meth Labs.

Fire at RWWRFPD Fire Station

On August 27,2010, RWWRFPD was alerted for a fire at Frenchman Valley Farmers Coop 3 miles west of McCook at 7:20 p.m. They were assisted by other local departments. They fought the fire most of the night. Smoke was spotted by a passer-by at RWWRFPD the next morning and a call was paged out at 06:00 hours. Apparently the fire burned itself out for lack of fuel and there was very little fire when McCook City Fire Department arrived on scene. It started in a pumper in the station. Fire damage was pretty much limited to the apparatus with smoke damage throughout the rest of the station. The State Fire Marshall investigated and determined the cause to be electrical in the pumper that was in the station. Estimated loss to the pumper and station was $150,000.


RWWRFPDs Hazmat Team has responded to many incidents of common chemicals found in almost in any community. Because they are familiar with these materials handling them has been quicker, safer, and with expertise. They have traveled to Lincoln to participate in drills and had drills in their own community.

Propane Tank Leak McCook

On August 17, 2017, 10:30 a.m., Red Willow Hazmat Team responded to McCook with 13 team members to assist the McCook Fire Department with a propane leak. The 350 gallon tank was in a residential area. During filling of the tank, it was discovered that a seal around a gauge had failed and the leak began. Neighbors were evacuated from the area. Vapor from the leaking tank was suppressed by spraying and misting water over the tank. Electricity was shut off in the area to control ignition sources and prevent the propane from igniting. It was determined the tank could not be moved from the area and there was no way of shutting off the leak. Patching was attempted but unsuccessful. Mitigation could only be accomplished by allowing the tank to vent its 200 gallons of product into the atmosphere. By 3:30 p.m. the tank was nearly empty and air monitoring of the area showed insignificant levels of vapor.

One home did show levels within the explosive limits of propane and was ventilated before the evacuation was lifted. Residents were allowed back into the neighborhood and the power was turned back on. Fire Chief Harpham of McCook Fire Department praised RWWRFPD for their quick response and assistance. "They are one of only ten teams in the State of Nebraska. We are fortunate to have them in McCook and their expertise in the area of hazardous materials went a long way in mitigating this incident. We can't thank them enough."

Hydrochloric Acid Spill Trenton

On March 29, 2018 while driving on a the River Road 5 miles east of Trenton, NE a tanker hauling hydrochloric acid flipped over while making a turn on a on a gravel road at the corner of Roads 714 and 369. Small amounts of diesel fuel and motor oil leaked from the truck. Trenton Fire & Rescue was called to the scene around 7:00 a.m. Upon recognizing, this accident involved hazardous materials; the RWWRFPD Hazmat Team was summoned for assistance. McCook Fire Department and Community Hospital were put on alert in the event the situation worsened.

Examination of the tanker revealed no hydrochloric acid was leaking. The decision was made to upright the tanker with four wreckers. It took 11 h to mitigate the incident safely and there were no injuries or complications.

Anhydrous Ammonia Leak McCook

An ammonia leak occurred at French Man Valley Coop (Figure 5.95). McCook City Fire Department responded and called for RWWRFPDs Hazmat Team. Personnel arrived and surveyed the situation. Technicians made an entry in Level A PPE and shut off a valve. Someone stealing anhydrous left the valve open. Anhydrous ammonia is used in the manufacture of methamphetamines (RWWRFPD).

An ammonia leak occurred at French Man Valley Coop in McCook. (Courtesy

Figure 5.95 An ammonia leak occurred at French Man Valley Coop in McCook. (Courtesy: RWWRFPD.)

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