CFA crews control chlorine leak

CFA crews from Apollo Bay, Wye River and Colac responded to a chlorine leak at Apollo Bay Aquatic Centre on Saturday 3 April.


CREDIT: Apollo Bay Aquatic Centre

FRV Hazmat Unit and pumper from Lara (station 61) and multiple ambulances including two Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) helicopters were also on scene after a suspected chlorine leak was reported at 10.45am on Easter Saturday.

Twenty-one members of the public were affected by the poisonous leak.

Four swimmers were rushed to hospital: two women in their 60s and 20s were flown to the Alfred Hospital and another woman in her 40s was transported to Geelong Hospital.

Fourteen people were observed and treated for breathing difficulties by paramedics on scene and didn't need additional treatment. It’s understood two young children were among the patients treated.

A Warning advice message was posted to the community within a 400-metre exclusion zone set up around the site and nearby roads were closed.

CFA crews in breathing apparatus isolated power to the building, including the chlorine pump, and helped disperse the fumes through natural ventilation.

The incident was declared safe at 2.09pm and handed over to WorkSafe personnel.

CFA ACFO Craig Brittain said CFA crews were very quick to respond with other emergency services.

“Crews provided immediate assistance including what’s called a ‘snatch and grab’ by members in breathing apparatus [BA],” Craig said.

“This is a quick response process where firefighters wearing sufficient protective equipment such as BA and structural firefighting PPC quickly enter and retrieve the patient and make a hasty retreat. 

"It is used when the patient can be easily identified and/or responders have clarity on the danger and have a clear path.

“This, along with immediate medical assistance by Ambulance Victoria (AV), assisted in preventing a more severe incident.

“Valuable technical support was provided by FRV with equipment from their Hazmat unit and pumper with crews entering the building checking for hazardous gas levels.

“It was a multi-agency response with CFA, FRV, Victoria Police, AV and at the end WorkSafe on a very hot day, and all members did a great job under trying conditions.”

Apollo Bay Brigade Captain David Howell said it was a great team effort.

“The incident was quite confronting for our members, especially being first on scene,” David said. “But it was a fantastic team effort and great to see all crews working together so quickly.

Author: Holly Penketh