Students learn hazardous material

Students learn hazardous material operations in new class
Posted on 12/21/2021
Morganton, NC – Tuesday Dec. 21, 2021

At Christmas time, we normally are used to seeing a large, jolly man in a red suit. Students at Patton High School have been suiting up in bright green suits, not for holiday activities, but for safety in a brand new class offered to firefighting students.

Mike Long, a career and technical education teacher, said “That suit is what we call a Level A suit. It is a totally encapsulated suit that a HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) operations person would wear into a HAZMAT call with an unknown substance. We learn the regulations, standards and laws when dealing with hazardous materials and then we even get into learning how to control a spill and keeping them out of waterways and storm drains.”

The students also get to learn about how HAZMAT teams would handle encountering an unknown substance, identifying it and containing or eliminating it. They also set up mock decontamination stations to clean the suits. The bright green color of the suits is to make sure the HAZMAT team is visible in many different situations.

Seven students from Patton High School including Ryan B., Landon B., Edwin M., Colten D., Justin T., Madilynn T. and Christian W. all received their Hazardous Material Operations certification. This is one of the requirements to be a firefighter in North Carolina. Western Piedmont Community College helped to make this class possible by letting the students use the suits for their class.

Long said, “Our program would not be as successful if it wasn’t for WPCC letting us use their equipment.”

BCPS Superintendent Dr. Mike Swan said, “You can’t get more hands-on than our Career and Technical Education programs and especially our firefighting academies. We have seen so much student success come from these classes and in turn make our community a better place. Great job to these students for excelling and receiving their certifications.”
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