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Report: West Responders Weren't Prepared to Fight Fertilizer Plant Fire

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT
Some of the aftermath of the West Fertilizer plant explosion. A new report says the blast was preventable.

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office says the deaths of 12 people responding to last year’s explosion at the West Fertilizer plant could have been prevented.

The Fire Marshal’s report [PDF] released Thursday night says the first responders killed in the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West,Texas  were not prepared or equipped to deal with such a dangerous situation.

The report says that is not because the first responders failed to perform their duties as they had been trained, but due to a “systemic deficiency in the training and preparation” of the firefighters.

The report says the firefighters were responding to the fire as if it were in a house,  instead of a large and complicated commercial property.

The Fire Marshal’s office also says all emergency crews should have a specific plan for responding to situations at facilities containing hazardous materials, such as the ammonium nitrate at the West Fertilizer plant.

The report also says if the plant would have had a working sprinkler system the fire may have been controlled.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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