First responders share lessons learned in Chemtool fire

Panel members talked about creating plans for large-scale disasters and what they should include
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:20 PM CDT
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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) - Emergency crews that helped out this summer when the Chemtool fire lit up the sky in Rockton highlight the urgency of having a community response plan in place.

“This was very, very informative,” said Douglas Proudfoot.

Proudfoot listened in shock Tuesday afternoon at a Belvidere Chamber of Commerce luncheon, as emergency responders shared lessons learned in the recent Chemtool fire and explosion.

“Just knowing all the different things they do, the outreaches the community and the police departments and the fire departments have is... that was crazy,” said Proudfoot. “That was really informative. I had no idea the amount of tentacles they have in the region these people have.”

Panel members talked about creating plans for large-scale disasters and what they should include. Rockton Fire Chief Kirk Wilson said the first step to prevention is preparation.

“We say this to our emergency responder, our local law enforcement, our fire agencies -- know what you have in your neighborhood and get your people out and especially with the fire agencies, you need to do your pre-planning,” said Wilson.

Wilson said disasters can happen anywhere and at any time. It’s important to be aware of what resources you have and to call on community leaders to get first responders anything else they need.

“The public is our stakeholders. They’re the ones paying the taxes, and they’re the ones that fund the emergency services, so they need to know what some of our challenges are,” Wilson said.

This is the first time Chief Wilson has spoken in a public forum since the Chemtool press conferences back in June.

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