Firefighters get active about radio actives

Radio active materials used in training with firefighters. / Jessica Fairley

Everyday Albany firefighters put their lives on the line to protect the community, but before they can do that, they have to have training.

Monday they received specialized training in radioactive materials.

Items containing radioactivity are shipped all around the world for many purposes and there's the possibility that if an accident occurs, the public may be in danger.

"It has happened in Albany once before and it dealt with Radio pharmaceuticals," says instructor David Lewis.

Although this doesn't happen often, firefighters are trained to know what type of radioactive materials there are and how to tell if they pose a threat or not.

"What it's going to do is prepare them in the event of an incident for how to respond to that incident and what to do upon arrival and what to do as the incident progresses," says Eugene Anderson, Albany Fire Department Training Captain.

Trainees went over the protocol for judging materials.

"The package type will give them direct indication as to what type of hazard that material poses to them as emergency responders," says David Lewis.

For instance a type 'a' package can contain radio pharmaceuticals used in hospitals and taken internally, while type 'b' packages are more serious.

"There is a fear with this material because it's more or less an unknown when actually radioactive material is going to be one of the safest hazardous materials responses that they will actually ever make," says Lewis.

He says the purpose of the hands-on class is to build up a comfort level within personnel so that if an accident occurs they'll be prepared for the test.