HazMat unit responds to crisis – at 9-1-1 Center

This wasn’t a ‘drill’! Find out why Portland Fire & Rescue was called to the Bureau of Emergency Communications building …

The Portland Fire & Rescue “HazMat Response” truck and crew are in the parking lot of the building that houses the 9-1-1 Call Center, after something in the air made operators feel ill.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Usually, 9-1-1 Center operators working at City of Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) building dispatch police, ambulances, and Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) units to assist people in distress.

But, on April 28 at 8:22 p.m., PF&R Engine 11 was called to the BOEC building itself, east of I-205 in outer East Portland, where the Powellhurst-Gilbert and Lents neighborhoods converge.

The crew from Mill Park Station Engine 7 helps with the investigation.

Before long, two PF&R units were activated from Mill Park Station 7: Engine 7 and the east side HazMat rig.

“Crews responded to BOEC on reports of a chemical smell,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

“Some of the personnel reported a ‘chemical smell’ and were feeling ill,” Simmons told East Portland News.

“PF&R’s HazMat team arrived and used electronic monitors to check the building,” Simmons said. The HazMat team couldn’t confirm the presence of any hazardous material in the building.

PF&R stands ready to help everyone in need – even those who dispatch their services.

After staff members opened windows to ventilate the building, the smell dissipated. “After ensuring that no life hazard existed, crews left the scene.”

It was later learned, he said, that one person was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, as a precaution, for evaluation. “What caused the toxic smell has not yet been determined,” Simmons said.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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