Extra Alarm HazMat for Acid Spill at Elk Grove High School


VIDEO: Hazardous Materials Level II response at Elk Grove High School and a traffic stop for ignoring a police road block.

Elk Grove Village Fire Department called for a HazMat Level II response at Elk Grove High School, 500 Elk Grove Boulevard Sunday. The Elk Grove Village Fire Department responded to a large acid spill at the high school at about 11:15 a.m. Sunday and called for the extra-alarm at about 12:15 p.m. Fire departments from Arlington Heights, Bensenville, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Township, Hoffman Estates, Itasca, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Palatine Rural, Rolling Meadows, Roselle, Schaumburg, Streamwood and Wheeling Fire Department assisted Elk Grove Village Fire Department.

Rosemont Fire Department and other fire departments also assisted Elk Grove Village — covering fire stations to provide regular protection service for Elk Grove Village.

The operation was a prolonged operation with hazardous materials technicians from all MABAS Division I fire departments on scene. Additional technicians were also called from DuPage County fire departments — Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Elmhurst, Glenside, and York Center.

An alarm alerted firefighters of a problem at the high school, and when firefighters arrived they discovered a toxic cloud in a confined space of the basement near the swimming pool. The firefighters backed out of the building, donned Class A hazardous materials suits with self-contained breathing apparatus, and re-entered the building. Firefighters quickly determined the leak was hydrochloric acid (HCl) which reacts with water, floor residue, any metals contacted and humidity to form a toxic cloud. Hydrocholoric acid is used to lower the pH (increase the acidity) of swimming pool water to optimize pool water safety and clarity.

The pool was neutralized with sodium bicarbonate and the building was ventilated throughout the day and into the evening.

No injuries were reported. Part of the reason for the large response of personnel was the need to rotate manpower that were wearing gear that is especially hot in high heat index weather. The risk of heat illness was also reduced by set up of cooling area outside of the school building with fans and fluid replacement facilities. The Salvation Army and Red Cross responded with a canteen unit with a mobile mess hall.