Rayonier A M joins Nassau County Fire Rescue to conduct hazmat drill

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Submitted by Susan Hardee Steger
Photos courtesy of Gale Jameyson
December 17, 2015 7:57 a.m.

Editor’s Note:  Our thanks to Gale Jameyson for spending an afternoon with us during the recent hazmat drill held at Rayonier Advanced Materials.  His photos captured the activity, team work, and training required to keep our community safe. 

1Rayonier Advanced  Materials, Nassau County Fire Rescue, Fernandina Beach Fire Department (FBFD), and Baptist Medical Center Nassau (BMCN), joined forces on Wednesday, December 9, to conduct a hazmat drill to respond to a simulated hazardous material release at Rayonier’s Fernandina Beach mill.

4Although Rayonier conducts regular hazmat safety drills, the impetus for the Wednesday drill was to provide Nassau County Fire Rescue’s Special Hazards Operations Team (SHOT) an opportunity to practice response techniques. NCFR Chief Matt Graves said,  “NCFR has never had a Special Hazardous Operations Team. We recognized this deficiency and . . . . established this specialized response team due to the presence of hazardous materials within our County and the need to protect responders, citizens, and visitors in the event of a hazardous materials release.”

The drill began with the arrival of the FBFD. According to Graves, the FBFD “established command, conducted reconnaissance, and rescued one viable victim that was decontaminated and transported to BMCN.” Once BMCN received the victims medical staff practiced their response.

HAZMAT 7At the Rayonier site, blue “smart dummies,” rescue manikins programmed to interact with rescuers and simulate various injuries, were strategically placed.

Victims and rescuers were hosed down in blue plastic pools in order to collect any contaminated water. Stations were manned to monitor rescuers’ vital signs as they entered and returned from the designated hazmat area.

Related Story:  February 2014 Fire/Rescue Incident Report

Rescuers donned their bright blue hazmat suits; not an easy task. With more extensive gear, several rescuers moved toward a rail car designated as the leak source. It was like witnessing former astronaut Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon walk; only in color.

Ty Silcox, Fernandina Beach Fire Chief

“Having a hazardous materials team requires a number of personnel to be able to function safely and properly. There are many requirements and certifications that are required to be a hazmat technician. Over the last 5 to 8 years, the State of Florida has changed the training and certification requirements for hazmat technicians,” said Ty Silcox, Fernandina Beach Fire Chief who attended the drill.

The City of Fernandina no longer has a hazmat team although Silcox expressed an interest in bringing one back. “We have been working on our Special Operations team which performs high angle rescues and confined space rescues, and this is where we have been placing our focus.”

Rayonier officials including C.A. McDonald, plant manager, were on hand to observe the drill. Robin Mock, safety and health group leader, has been involved in numerous safety drills during her 26 year career in industrial safety. Mock was impressed. “It was exciting to see the newly established Nassau County HazMat team in action. The response from county and city emergency teams was exceptional and greatly appreciated.”

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5 Responses to Rayonier A M joins Nassau County Fire Rescue to conduct hazmat drill

  1. Len Kreger says:


    Coordination with the Mill, City and County on this safety issue is both professional and positive.

  2. Dave Lott says:

    A worthy exercise and one that will sharpen skills and hopefully give the general population of the Island a little more assurance. Great PR for Rayonier as well.

  3. Steve Crounse says:

    Congratulations to Rayonier Corp. for being proactive towards the potential of Hazmet Disasters at their Facilities. The involvement of all facets of our County, Community response teams show a Mature, and Responsible approach to a real and present danger to their Business interest and our community. Perhaps the Port Authority and Kinder Morgan Corp. could use the Rayonier Template. To show our City residents that they to our responsible stewards of the Community. That would have a more comforting feeling than to our citizens than. the well worn statement. “We have not had an accident in 30 years.”

  4. Robert Warner says:

    Rayonier – well done. Practice makes perfect (or at least 90% perfect). Let’s keep it up – and expand the concept to the OHPA and Westrock. Fight like you train, and train like you fight. I like this.

  5. Sheila Cocchi says:

    Another great example of public/private partnerships at work. Thank you to our local and county teams for all you do!

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