At the Oct. 21 regular meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council, council members approved a resolution for the “agreement under Iowa code Chapter 28E for emergency hazardous materials assistance.”
On Wednesday if this week, Jamey Robinson, director of Mahaska County Emergency Management Association, said that this says the city is saying they will allow the Oskaloosa Fire Department to help with hazardous materials technician response, in the event of a large hazardous materials spill.
Currently, fire departments in Oskaloosa, Cedar Township, New Sharon, as well as the Mahaska County Emergency Management Commission have all signed off on this agreement, noted Robinson.
Robinson noted that an incident involving sulfuric acid leak and the railroad a few years ago “got the ball rolling” on this 28E initiative.
“So, this is going to give our citizens throughout the county a quicker, more effective response, which, of course, in turn, decreases the risk to life, property and environment,” said Robinson.
Right now, $19,000 is paid to another department to cover hazmat situations, Robsinson explained. They are looking to lower that amount, but not to the point where they can't stay functional.
“We want to be able to be able to supply our departments in the county with training and equipment that they can use right here instead of paying another department to do it,” said Robinson.
Robinson said each fire department in Mahaska County will get “specialized equipment” for responding to hazmat situations, said Robinson. Some of that equipment has already be obtained through grant money, he said.
“That's a big plus to the taxpayers,” said Robinson.
The next step in this process is to go before the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors at their next regular meeting and to provide a 90-day notice to the Southeast Iowa Emergency Response Group.
“This has been a four-year project and I am just glad to see everybody coming together and getting it worked out,” Robinson said.
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at email@example.com.