For the City Times
Submitted by Phil Hartley, Verso
Verso’s Wisconsin Rapids Mill is teaming up with the Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department (WRFD) to ensure that both teams are ready in case of an emergency situation at the Verso mill.
The WRFD is taking tours of the 16 Line Paper Machine and Converting facilities during the week of April 2nd. These tours and informational meetings help familiarize WRFD team members with the layout of the mill’s buildings as well as the equipment, chemicals and safety procedures that are used in the paper making process.
“This important relationship began more than 10 years ago” says Kevin Grosskreutz, WR Mill Safety Process Coordinator. “We conduct tours and informational meetings with our local fire and police departments regularly in different areas of our mill. The mill is expansive – over 1,000 acres –and has many different entrances and processes that could present challenges for emergency personnel,” he explains. “It is especially important for new members of the fire and police teams to have this training, as many have not been exposed to the size and complexity of our mill. When local emergency response teams are more familiar with our mill team and our facilities, the response to an emergency will be quicker and safer for all involved.”
“The WRFD values these joint training opportunities,” says Scott Young, Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department Deputy Chief. “Anytime we can pre-plan a business it allows the department to be better prepared to handle any type of emergency at that facility. Verso’s operations are very complex and we could be called to help their team in a wide variety of situations, not only fires but potentially a chemical spill, confined space operation or a medical emergency. The training Verso has provided us over the last 10 years not only helps our members get a better feel for the layout of the mill but also helps to build relationships and trust. When an emergency or the potential for an emergency has developed, the knowledge we have in each other’s skills allows us to work together as effectively and efficiently as possible to quickly mitigate the situation.”
Deputy Chief Young also says, “Verso has been a great partner to work with. We are thankful they have opened their doors and allowed us to see and gain a basic understanding of their operations so we are better prepared to respond to anything thrown our way.”
“Everyone at the Verso Wisconsin Rapids Mill appreciates that both the Wisconsin Rapids Fire and Police Departments are informed and engaged in the safety of our mill team,” Grosskreutz says. “Their professionalism, expertise and quick response make our mill a safer place to work.”