Confined Space Rescue in Green Bay

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Firefighters rescued a man from inside a large fuel storage tank Monday.

A worker at U.S. Oil Co. tank farm at 1075 Hurlbut Court collapsed in a gasoline storage tank, according to the Green Bay Metro Fire Department. He was transported to a local hospital, but his condition was not known Monday afternoon.

Green Bay Metro Fire Department crews were called to the tank farm just after 11 a.m. Their rescue was successful, although a floating floor inside the tank that moves up and down with the gasoline to prevent the build up of potentially explosive vapors created additional challenges.

“We had to sent personnel down into the tank and packaged him up in a Stokes basket, which is a rescue device, and then brought him up from the floating roof on to the roof of the tank,” Battalion Chief Rob Goplin said. “Then we brought him to one of our ladder trucks and brought him down to the ground and transported him.”

The department has firefighters trained in technical rescues, and a number of those people were involved in Monday’s rescue.

“We train for any rescue like this … where it’s beyond your normal call where you have to use ropes, perhaps pulleys, and it includes a confined space with a hazardous material,” Goplin said. “We train for all those scenarios and this one kind of put all of those hazards into one incident.”

He described this type of rescue as extremely unusual.

“This is a very rare type of incident,” said Goplin, who has been with the department for nearly 17 years. “In my time on the department we have not had an incident like this involving one of those tanks before.”

Firefighters had to wear respiratory protection because of conditions in the tank.

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