Three D.C. firefighters were hospitalized after crews responded to a hazardous materials call, one of two Wednesday that included a sulfuric spill at the Department of Homeland Security complex.
The first incident happened shortly before 7 a.m. and involved a building’s automatic fire alarm. Initially, crews believed it to be a chlorine leak at a pool facility, but they later discovered that it was a Freon leak from a large air-conditioning chiller unit, according to D.C. Fire and EMS.
“When they arrived and began investigating the source, they determined there was some sort of a leak coming from a large, commercial chiller, which provides central air conditioning for this institutional complex,” Vito Maggiolo, the department’s public information officer, told Patch Washington, D.C. “When they realized the nature of the emergency, they requested a hazmat assignment.”
Three firefighters on the call were taken to the hospital for possible exposure. Six civilians were evaluated at the scene but didn’t need medical treatment, the department said.
Shortly before 9 a.m., a sulfuric acid spill occurred at the Department of Homeland Security complex. Fumes were coming from the leak, which originated from a battery bank, and the building was evacuated. the department said.
“At one of the buildings there, we had a sulfuric acid spill, which was the result of apparently a battery overheating or cracking,” Maggiolo told Patch, adding that it was part of a bank of batteries that provided backup power.
Firefighters were able to isolate the spill and ventilate the building, according to the department. One person was taken to the hospital for evaluation, and the Naval District of Washington Fire Department helped with the call.