SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Shrewsbury Firefighters responded today to a hazardous materials call at 1:23 PM at 60A Shrewsbury Green Drive. The resident had inadvertantly mixed two common household bathroom cleaners together, one containing a chlorine base, and the other ammonia. Those of you with a chemistry backround will understand that these are two things that you just never, ever mix, as they generate deadly chlorine gas. Having applied both of these cleaners and closed the bathroom door, the resident saw a cloud of vapor coming out from under the door and immediately called emergency services.
Shrewsbury is fortunate to have Hazmat specialist Bob Ljunggren on staff, who is not only trained to handle such emergencies, but is also a State Fire Academy Hazardous Materials Instructor, and along with one of our other Hazmat technicians Aaron Roy and the rest of the team, responded to the scene and proceded to use high speed fans to pressurize the building, and evacuate all residents. Fortunately there were no serious injuries, and the residents were allowed to return to their units aat 3:10PM.
Incidents like this make it important to underscore that folks need to be very careful in reading the instructions with even the most common household chemicals. Many things such as cleaners and pesticides contain chemicals that are relatively benign when used as instructed, but can create deadly hydrogen sulfide, or chlorine gasses when mixed together. When in doubt, the best policy is to just never mix anything at all. Use one compound at a time, and clean up all your work before opening anything else.
Great work once again for the Shrewsbury Firefighters. Thanks for keeping us all safe!