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State, County and Local Officials Demonstrate Large-Flow Firefighting Equipment --- System to Fight Petrochemical Blazes in South Jersey, Complement North Jersey Apparatus

GIBBSTOWN  State, county and local firefighting officials today demonstrated a state-of-the-art system capable of fighting large-scale fires in Gloucester County and the South Jersey region, said Richard L. Cañas, Director of New Jerseys Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

Providing South Jersey with this state-of-the art system is consistent with the states regional strategy to respond to any large-scale disaster, whether its caused by a terrorist attack, accident or natural disaster, Cañas said. Ensuring that state, county and local first-responders have the necessary equipment and proper training to respond to any emergency is a top priority for my office.

The system, which is especially designed to combat large petrochemical flammable liquid fires, was demonstrated during a training session for firefighters at the DuPont Repauno Plant in Gibbstown, Greenwich Township, Gloucester County. The approximate $1.4 million cost of the system was paid for with state funds through a partnership between the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the State Department of Community Affairs.

In addition to enhancing our firefighting response capabilities in South Jersey, this equipment also improves our flood mitigation efforts in the southern coastal counties and assists in distributing potable water in the event of a major drinking water outage, said Joseph V. Doria, Jr., Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. DCAs Division of Fire Safety will coordinate firefighter training throughout the region and will develop and conduct tabletop and full-scale training exercises, all of which will improve our overall emergency response capabilities.

The arrival of this equipment and technology to our region will be essential to our firefighters ability to protect our residents and our infrastructure, said Stephen M. Sweeney, 3rd Legislative District State Senator and Gloucester County Freeholder Director. South Jersey has talented and dedicated emergency response teams and this new apparatus will bring them in line with their counterparts in North Jersey. We are glad the state has recognized the need for homeland security equipment and funding for South Jersey and has made this investment.

Having this equipment will significantly enhance the ability to protect chemical plants, nuclear plants and other large oil refineries in the South Jersey area, said John Burzichelli, 3rd Legislative District Assemblyman. Burzichelli serves on the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee. 

This equipment will help firefighters and other emergency responders provide more resourceful services in the event of an emergency, added Douglas H. Fisher, 3rd Legislative District Assemblyman.

Cañas said that the system complements two similar systems that have been purchased for the seven counties and the cities of Newark and Jersey City with federal Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant funds. The two existing systems are housed in Elizabeth and Morris County and are available to the entire North Jersey region. 

According to Lawrence Petrillo, State Fire Marshall and Director of the Division of Fire Safety in the Department of Community Affairs, more than 150 county and local firefighters have been trained on the system, which consists of the following components:

A Neptune pump module capable of delivering 5,000 gallons per minute (gpm) of water over a distance of one mile, and a vehicle to deploy the pump module;

One mile of 12-inch diameter flexible above-ground hose and a vehicle to transport the hose;

An Ironman Water/Firefighting foam nozzle capable of handling 5,000 to 10,000 gpm

A 4,000 gallon foam tanker; and

Six 1,000 gpm water/foam nozzles.

The system can pump water or be combined with foam designed to smother petrochemical fires. Flammable petrochemical liquids cannot be extinguished by water alone.

The system can also be used to pump potable water up to a mile when regular water supplies are not available. In addition, it can be used as a flood mitigation system to pump out large volumes of floodwater. 

Petrillo said training for additional county and local firefighters in the region will continue throughout the year.