Hazmat responders remove a leaking container from a commercial enterprise in Austria Thursday. - Photo Courtesy of FF Puchheim

Hazmat responders remove a leaking container from a commercial enterprise in Austria Thursday.

Photo Courtesy of FF Puchheim

A chemical reaction that resulted in a gas leak required a hazardous materials response Thursday to a commercial enterprise in northern Austria, local media report.

The Puchheim Volunteer Fire Brigade dispatched its Hazardous Substance Vehicle (GSF) to a local commercial enterprise. To increase the respiratory protection available, the industrial fire brigade from Eternit company and firefighters from Regau were alerted.

Working together with the Vocklabruck fire brigade, GSF locked the leaking container under further protection and moved it outside. The building was then ventilated.

Development of the GSF vehicles traces back to the 1970s. Until then, an explosion-proof pump, a couple of oil-resistant hoses and 5-10 sacks of sawdust were sufficient to deal with the use of hazardous substances.

First and foremost, oil had to be used. After more and more special materials were used in production and processing for a wide variety of industries, the danger to the environment was also recognized. One way out of this major problem was an all-Austrian concept and ultimately resulted in the "Hazardous Substances Vehicle (GSF)" building guidelines. At that time, eight GSF vehicles were stationed in Upper Austria as a result of resolutions by the state fire brigade management. The bases were chosen in such a way that a GSF is available at important traffic connections and industrial areas.

For the districts of Vöcklabruck and Gmunden, the Puchheim volunteer fire brigade was chosen as the location for such a special vehicle. The main reason for this decision was the high level of training at FF Puchheim, which is also the radiation measurement base for the Vöcklabruck district.

This Hazardous Substance Vehicle (Steyr 591/136 F, built in 1986) was relocated to the Puchheim fire department on September 23, 1986 for the districts described above. The total value of this vehicle at that time was 3.5 million schillings (three times as much today).

As the successor to the hazardous substances vehicle (Steyr 591/136 F) from 1986, as part of the exchange program from Upper Austria. After 28 years, the State Fire Brigade Association relocated a new Hazardous Substances Vehicle (GSF) to Puchheim on July 7, 2014. This is a Mercedes Benz / Atego MB1529 / 4610 / 4x4.

The vehicle is intended for use in which there is a risk of damage to people and the environment from aggressive substances and goods. The GSF is equipped with respiratory protection and body protection of the highest protection level. Hazardous pumps of various types - mostly made of stainless steel - enable the pumping of almost all hazardous chemicals. Collection containers for several thousand liters of liquid make it possible to collect the contents of a road or rail tank vehicle without any problems. All pumps and power supply devices are explosion-proof. There are also numerous transition pieces for road and rail vehicles, also made of stainless steel. A fold-out awning enables the emergency services to change in a protected area. You can also find your own decorative tent in the vehicle.

A lot has happened at the Puchheim fire brigade in the area of ​​deployment preparation and handling over the past 28 years. A new command vehicle (KDOF) was set up as a mobile command center. Equipped with measuring devices and hazardous materials literature, this vehicle is the support vehicle for such often very difficult missions. In addition, the insert magazine was converted to a pallet system. Numerous additional resources such as binding agents for roads and bodies of water, serpentine oil lines, binding fleece, emergency tanks, pumps, etc. can be loaded very quickly onto the truck that has also been purchased using a forklift. These three vehicles (KDOF, GSF, LAST + grid boxes) form the hazardous substances train of the Puchheim volunteer fire department. 
To master the dangerous substances vehicle and its equipment as well as the necessary operational technology and operational tactics as thoroughly as possible, intensive training of the operational teams is required.

The FF Puchheim therefore continuously holds theoretical and practical exercises, which are of particular interest to the younger firefighters. Furthermore, in the last few years there has been a start to hold information events for the fire brigades in the Puchheim fire station, specifically on the vehicle and the topic of "dangerous substances". These were and are used very heavily by the fire brigades in the Vöcklabruck and Gmunden district.