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      Firefighters prepared for what they hope never happens

      How prepared are mid-Missouri fire crews for something like the explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas?Captain Tim Young of the Jefferson City Fire Department said they have done numerous drills and receive regular training with explosives and other hazardous material. He said the most important thing is to limit the loss of life."Here in Jefferson City, the fire department is aware of the locations where things like that are stored," Young said. "We don't have vast quantities of high-grade fertilizers and chemical components like that in town, but if we do have a fire involving those, you know evacuation is going to be the key. We want to evacuate as many people as possible, as soon as possible."As Young mentioned, there are no major fertilizer plants in Jefferson City. There are, however, a few distributors of chemicals, including MFA. The vice president of MFA's corporate member services said the company makes safety a priority by having monthly safety meetings, site inspections and employee training.Young said that fires that come into contact with highly-concentrated chemicals have a high combustion rate, especially when under pressure."You're dealing with a product that's going to oxidize and increase combustion and add to the heat of the fire, and make it a hotter fire," he said. "It puts firefighters at risk, not only for thermal injuries and that type of thing, but the detonation problem. So again, evacuation's the key. We're not going to put our firefighters at risk."Young added that every fire truck has a book outlining the dangers of and responses to specific hazardous material.