SANDPOINT — Emergency officials’ response time is picking up with the addition of 6,000 feet of hydraulic-spooled oil containment boom.
Bonner County Emergency Management and firefighters from local fire districts spent Wednesday and Thursday deploying the BNSF Railway Co. containment booms.
“It went very well. It was a successful exercise on both days,” said Bob Howard, director of Bonner County Emergency Management.
Officials from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Kootenai Tribe of Idaho also took part in the exercises.
The new containment booms are split up among three trailers that hold 2,000 feet. The spool trailers will remain in Bonner County, although Howard said they are still determining precisely they’ll be stationed.
“We put out 6,000 feet of boom in about two hours,” said Howard.
Bonner County already has a trailer which holds 3,800 feet of boom, while Selkirk Fire Rescue & EMS and Avista Corp. have 1,000 feet of trailer boom each, according to Howard.
Howard said the new boom can be deployed faster than the trailer boom, which have to be unloaded by hand. The new booms also require less manpower to put into place.
Fire boats from the Sam Owen Fire District and Selkirk Fire, in addition to other agencies, muscled the lengthy booms into position against the west side of U.S. Highway 95 Long Bridge during the training exercises.
“It requires a lot of experienced operators,” said Howard said.
Howard was grateful for the support of BSNF and Montana Rail Link in the exercises, which are becoming an annual event.
“Every year we’re training and exercising,” Howard said.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.