In The Hazmat "Hot Zone"

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Goleta, CA, April 6, 2005 – Santa Barbara County firefighters responded to the Engineering Building on the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus after a gas-detection alarm was sounded and students fled from a laboratory on the second floor of the building after a release occurred. First-arriving firefighters received confirmation of a release and the leak of deadly fluorine gas from a cylinder inside a lab in the building and verified that evacuation of the building was accomplished.

After the arrival of a full hazardous materials response, bringing firefighters from both the Santa Barbara City and Santa Barbara County fire departments, information was gathered from witnesses and instructors as well as UCSB experts, and a plan was developed for entry into the contaminated environment and reducing the hazard. Firefighters assigned to hazmat companies prepared two Level A entry teams (one entry and one rescue) as other firefighters set up a decontamination zone and suited up in their protective clothing.

After a safety briefing, team members in protective equipment entered the building and investigated the building and the lab according to their plan and were able to safely determine that the entire quantity of deadly gas had vented from the cylinder and exhausted to atmosphere through the sophisticated air handling safeguards built into the lab and the structure. The area of release was determined to be safe after approximately four hours of work by firefighters.

— Keith D. Cullom

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