At 11:21 A.M. on Saturday, March 19, Fire Associates received a request for assistance from the San Jose Fire Department. A 5,000-gal. tank of ammonia was leaking at the Santa Clara Valley Water District treatment plant located on Rosalind Lane in the Almaden Valley. The leak caused SJFD to respond a HAZMAT Task Force and the extended containment and clean-up operation necessitated a call for FASCV help. John Whitaker responded in Fire Support Unit 2 and was joined by FASCV members Jerry Haag and Dan Wong.
It was a blustery and rainy early afternoon, so the first order of business for FASCV was to erect both of FSU-2's pop-up shelters. Once those were in place, serving tables and benches were put out. Pots of hot coffee were quickly perked along with a request for a kettle of hot water for tea. Temperatures were in the high 40's and the rain continued to fall throughout the entire operation.
Since the call came in just before the noon hour, fire crews on scene not yet eaten lunch. So, FASCV was asked to pick up and serve 40 Togo's sandwiches and chips. Jerry Haag and Dan Wong made the lunch run and Jerry reported that since the order was placed for the San Jose Fire Department, Togo's offerred a 10% discount on the meal -- a much appreciated offer, we're sure.
Firefighters from the SJFD Hit Team donned their protective gear and inspected the tank for danger. The report back was that the leak had been adequately plugged by Santa Clara Valley Water Dept. personnel and the 250 gallons of leaked ammonia was contained. By mid-afternoon, the scene was turned over to Water Department representatives who indicated that they would have a contractor vacuum up the spill to eliminate any problem. Fire Associates was released from the incident at 3:00 P.M. However, the work was not over as John and Dan had to return to Station 6 and spread out all the FASCV equipment to dry. The day's work was completed shortly after 4:00 P.M.
- John's photos can be viewed at: Ammonia Leak Incident
- A SJ Mercury News article can be read at: Ammonia Leak Detected
- A KTVU TV news story and video can be viewed at: Ammonia Leak Contained