Firefighters in hospital after steam incident

HUDSON – A buildup of steam at a metal-plating company sparked concerns of a hazardous materials incident Monday night and sent two firefighters to the hospital.

The firefighters, whose names the Fire Department is not releasing, were taken to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua for observation. They were released shortly after midnight.

Firefighters responded to JMD Plating at 1 Park Ave. at 9:37 p.m. for a fire alarm. Two firefighters who entered the building noticed a slight haze and a strange odor, Fire Prevention Officer Steve Dube said.

The firefighters told a fire lieutenant on the scene that there was something wrong and that a hazardous-material team should be contacted, Dube said.

Fire Chief Shawn Murray said the firefighters reported having smelled an odor like rotten fish.

Three teams – Nashua Fire Rescue’s Hazardous Material Team, Souhegan Mutual Aid Response Team and South Eastern New Hampshire Hazardous Materials Mutual Aid Area District – responded.

After searching the building, the hazardous-materials teams did not find anything amiss and gave the OK to turn the building over to a company representative.

According to the Fire Department, a timer for an air-scrubbing machine in the building was not reset after a power disruption earlier that day, causing a buildup of steam in the building. A sludge-dryer in the metal-finishing plant had turned on, but the air scrubber did not, according to plant manager Bruce Cyr.

The air scrubber cleans air inside the building before exhausting it outside. The steam buildup set off the alarm, Dube said.

The timer kicked in while firefighters were still on the scene, Cyr said.

“Everything was fine,” he said, adding that it was business as usual Tuesday.

The two firefighters who went to the hospital were given the rest of their shift off.

“The fire-detection units did their job,” Murray said.

The department will be working with the company to become more familiar with its operations and tour the building, fire officials said. Firefighters have been inside the building and do planning around businesses, Murray noted.

“Incidents like this bring to light the need to go back and revisit the facility,” he said.