Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The Citizen’s Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) hosted command staff members from Johnson County Fire District 1 at the August 14 CPAC meeting.
The discussion item on the agenda was the emergency response plan for critical incidents at the BNSF Intermodal facility and surrounding warehouses.
In attendance for the fire district were Rob Kirk, fire chief; Dennis Meyers, assistant fire chief; and Trig Morley, battalion chief.
Kirk said that FD1 did the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for the city of Edgerton, and in the past has done the same for the city of Gardner, but now that falls on the police department.
“I can tell you that’s a fire function, not a police function” said Kirk. “Because firefighters would man command posts at the scene, Kirk says they should lead in developing response plans.”
In case of an emergency event at the intermodal/LPKC, the district would use Edgerton’s emergency plan.
“We will go by their EAP. If the scale gets big enough that we can’t handle it ourselves, then we go to the Johnson County emergency plan,”,said Kirk.
Jim Pruetting, police chief, added that Gardner PD would be monitoring the situation closely and assist in closing roads or diverting traffic from entering the area.
Pruetting agreed with Kirk that firefighters would establish the command posts at the scene and the police would assist by establishing and protecting a perimeter.
“Most of the time, our job would be to facilitate the egress and regress of other emergency equipment – fire district and rescue. That’s the primary duty in one of these incidents,” said Pruetting.
Later Pruetting said he and Kirk had been working on a Gardner specific plan that would be completed soon.
Kirk said there was more danger from the cargo passing through town by train and truck every day, than from (current or planned) facilities at the intermodal.
Later the discussion touched on the planned construction‘of a 400,000 square foot cold storage facility on Gardner’s border at New Century.
Some Gardner residents are alarmed with the storage of large amounts of anhydrous ammonia that is used to cool that warehouse space down to 22 degrees below zero.
“Is it a hazard? Yeah, it’s a hazard. We have hazards every day that we deal with. If you want to talk about anhydrous ammonia hazard go to the city of Edgerton and drive down to the CO-OP,” said Kirk.
He said there they’d been called there several times for leaks.
“We mitigate it. We mitigate it and we go home,” he said.
Regarding the new facility at New Century, Kirk said that it would have to meet standards of OSHA and many other regulatory agencies.
Steve Shute, city council president, attended the meeting.
Shute asked how the people at the Johnson County jail would be evacuated in this kind of an emergency.
The jail is 1000 feet from the cold storage facility and can have a population of 600 to 800 at any time.
Kirk said they would use the Sheriff’s Department emergency plan.
Rich Melton, city council and CPAC member, had a stationary camera set up and live streamed video of the meeting to the internet.
Next meeting of CPAC will be on Sept. 11 at 8 p.m.