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Firefighters responded to a reported ammonia leak in a frozen foods plant on July 24 in Merced, Cali., according to the Merced Sun-Star.
A properly installed toxic gas detector may have triggered the alarm system that alerted the first responders, who arrived at the scene to assess the situation. They were able to successfully evacuate between 50 and 75 employees in the building and no injuries were reported. Officials are unsure of what triggered the incident.
Ammonia naturally exists the air at minimal levels and used in a variety of products. It can become toxic, however. The White Oak Frozen Foods plant uses ammonia for refrigeration purposes.
The gas and fire alarm system shut down the processing plant's machinery and prevented the leak from spreading.
"It's a brand new system, and [the firefighters are] working now to break in the system," said Mike McLaughlin, fire chief for the Merced fire department.
In addition to the fire crews, the Cal Fire hazardous materials team responded as well, using gas detection equipment to ensure the ammonia did not spread.
After ensuring that the leak had been sealed, the firefighters left the scene, less than an hour after the building's alarm triggered the call.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection.