The Kokomo Common Council is adding its thoughts on the proposed wind farms that could be coming to Howard County.
Councilman Bob Cameron said he thinks the council should be prepared if the wind farms do end up being constructed and that possible problems with the wind farms should be explored. His biggest contention with the wind farms is that if they are constructed, the Kokomo Fire Department may not be prepared to deal with an emergency.
“I got a little proactive, so I called a friend of mine… got some food for thought from him,” he told the council. “You have to have a plan… we have to start thinking about it.”
Cameron said if an accident occurs at the wind farm, the KFD may not be able to help anyone who is stuck on a windmill or hurt by one.
“In case of an accident, how will the fire department get somebody down from up on top? It takes a specialized training,” he said. “Probably the closest training would be in the Chicago area, because he does not think Indianapolis would have any kind of training. Its food for thought because somewhere along the line, wherever they end up going, they may affect us in the future, it’s going to affect somebody.”
Cameron also pointed out that if a tornado were to come through the area, the blades on the windmills could be ripped off and cause damage to people or property. Health hazards were also a concern for Cameron, especially the loud noise that can be a result of the rotating blades.
Council president Mike Kennedy said he did not think the council should get involved with the wind farms until it is certain they would be constructed in Howard County.
“If and when that approaches our council, we will have some information on it,” he said. “I know there is a lot of controversy over that, and it’s something I would like to avoid.”
Kokomo Fire Department Chief Pat O’Neill said the KFD would only be involved in the technical rescue side of things if there were any type of trouble with the windmills.
“We are the technical rescue element for Howard County,” he explained. “In other words, the Kokomo Fire Department has an emergency response team, which comprises of 24 firefighters. They would be the group that would do any kind of a technical rescue in Howard County.”
The technical rescue team deals with any number of accidents, including high-angle rescues that would involve cell phone towers or water towers, and windmills if there were any, he said.
“Those types of anything that you couldn’t reach with an aerial truck,” O’Neill said. “We assist all the agencies in Howard County, and we also are the technical rescue element for the state of Indiana’s District 6, which comprises, I think of eight or 10 counties.”
The team also does trench rescues, confined space rescues, and collapse rescues, among other things.
If the need for technical rescue is greater that a community can handle or they become overwhelmed because of the size of the event, then the KFD emergency hazardous response team would be dispatched to that community, he added.
O’Neill said that if the wind farms were brought to Howard County, then the technical rescue team would train to deal with issues that may arise, but he has not heard from anyone who would be constructing the wind mills yet.
“We would have to do training on a structure like that like we would any new structure,” he said. “We currently train on cell phone towers and water towers, stuff like that. If some new type of structure that was a high rise type situation came into the county we would certainly want to familiarize ourselves with, especially the safety aspects of those things.
“We would have to meet with the folks putting them up and become educated on how they work so if we did have to make a rescue, we would certainly want to know what the safety factors were and the do’s and the don’ts .”
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