An unexpected partnership put a handful of Davenport firefighters through some intense training. Members of the Iowa National Guard have spent the last three days working with Davenport’s hazardous materials, and weapons of mass destruction unit.
Inside Davenport’s fire station number 6, it’s a simulated nightmare – a lab used to create chemical weapons and firefighters must safely figure out what it is, how dangerous it is, and who’s behind it.
“It’s a simple task when you get down to it, but it’s getting from here to there that we’re practicing today,” says Captain Clint Powell of the Iowa National Guard.
And they must do it in these ty-vek suits. It’s hot bulky work, and it certainly isn’t easy.
“You’re fully encapsulated. You wear SCBA, mask, boots, gloves… It’s kinda like wearing a giant trash bag it’s really hot, it’s about 140 degrees inside that suit on a hot day,” says Powell.
Davenport firefighters are the ones behind the mask today they’re being mentored by soldiers of the Iowa National Guard. On the agenda: anything that could be used in a weapon of mass destruction.
“It can be a chemical that you buy at home depot, it can be a biological that some nation-state decided they wanted to grow,” explains Powell.
These soldiers based out of Des Moines focus only on identifying and handling WMD’s and hazardous materials. These firefighters are responsible for a broad range of things like firefighting, medical calls, and even building codes. Getting hands on training with the National Guard can prove invaluable.
“They focus only on this area, so having them come in here just increases our ability to do our job well when we hit those areas,” says Davenport Fire Chief Lynn Washburn
This handful of Davenport firefighters is one of Iowa’s 7 regional teams certified to handle hazardous materials and WMD’s. Chief Washburn says that certification possible because of collaborative training like this.
“We could not have this high level of training if they didn’t come in and help us out with it,” adds Washburn.