Compressor malfunction leads to Haz-Mat callout at YSU

By Joe Gorman


A malfunction in a compressor Tuesday morning led to a callout of a Haz-Mat team at Youngstown State University.

Firefighters answering an alarm in Ward Beecher Hall after 6 a.m. encountered a smoky haze inside and called for the team to make sure no chemicals were leaking into the air.

The building houses the university’s science department and several types of chemicals.

However, after Haz-Mat members in chemical suits entered the building, they found no evidence of any leak.

City fire Chief Barry Finley said a compressor in the basement the size of a large garbage can malfunctioned and threw out burning oil and generated a lot of heat. Because of the heat, the building was filled with the haze, Finley said.

Two Haz-Mat members entered the building in chemical protection suits with two others suited up and ready to go in should they be needed.

They also set up a decontamination tent in front of Maag Library and spent about 45 minutes in the building before declaring it safe from chemicals about 10 a.m.

The building was closed until noon. Firefighters ventilated the building to get the smoke out.

Assisting the Mahoning County team was a crew from the Trumbull County Haz-Mat team as well as a team from Mercy Health.

Finley said standard protocol is to be extra cautious when facing an unknown situation.

“When you have an unknown situation, you have to treat it as a worst-case scenario,” Finley said.