The Salem Fire & EMS Department responded to an automatic alarm for ammonia at US Foods this morning at approximately 11:54 a.m. When firefighters arrived at the facility, located at 40 Fort Lewis Boulevard, employees confirmed that there was an actual ammonia leak inside of a mechanical room.
A Regional Hazardous Materials response was initiated and personnel from the Salem Fire & EMS Department, Roanoke Fire & EMS Department and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management all responded to the incident. The leak was confined to the equipment room and the rest of the building was not evacuated during the incident.
The first units arrived within six minutes of receiving the call and located the leak in a refrigeration unit. Initially, crews worked with US Foods personnel to pinpoint the extent of the leak and ensure that it was properly contained to its point of origin. A Regional Hazardous Materials response was put into motion and on-scene personnel prepared to make entry into the building. Hazardous Materials Technicians, wearing Level A suits, entered the plant and were able to repair the leak in the unit at approximately 3:15 p.m. The building was monitored to ensure there were no additional hazards before responders left the scene.
Approximately 18 personnel from the Salem Fire & EMS Department (Truck 1, Engine 3, Medic 802, Battalion 1 & Fire Medic 1), Roanoke Fire & EMS Department (Haz-Mat 1 & Support 2) and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (Regional Hazardous Materials Officer) responded to the call.
The Salem Fire & EMS Department would like to thank US Foods, the Roanoke Fire & EMS Department and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for their assistance in handling this incident.