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No danger for residents: Chlorine gas alarm at the Friesi pool

No danger for residents : Chlorine gas alarm at the Friesi pool

On Monday evening, emergency personnel went out to attend a chlorine gas alarm in the Friesi pool. According to the fire department, there was no danger for local residents. Whether the outdoor pool can open as planned on Ascension Day remains uncertain.

Because a hose on the dosing system in the Friesi had come loose, chlorine gas escaped from the technical room of the swimming pool on Monday evening. The automatic hazard warning system struck - and around 8 p.m. the fire brigade with a total of 70 firefighters moved out to Margaretenstraße, with support from the rescue service and the city's bath office. Swimmers were not on site, said Stefanie Zießnitz from the Bonn press office on GA request.

Since the air dome was dismantled at the beginning of May, the Friesi has been made fit for outdoor swimming. Whether the swimming pool will be able to open on Ascension Day as planned has not yet been decided. In order to be able to say this, one has to wait and see what the inspection of the facilities will show, says Zießnitz. These are currently being investigated "to rule out possible damage to electrical engineering, for example".

No danger for residents

According to Jörg Schneider, the situation leader in the fire brigade control centre, there was no danger for the residents. They were asked to close doors and windows, but were allowed to stay in their apartments. The neighbouring gymnasium and football pitch, on the other hand, had to be evacuated immediately. The fire brigade could not say exactly how many people were affected. Only that: The sportsmen had behaved "extremely cooperatively", left the football field and the gymnasium quickly and orderly, "so that we could concentrate on the processing of the actual situation", so the fire brigade.

Two troops were deployed in chemical protection suits to close the chlorine gas bottles at the dosing device. At the same time, the fire brigade sprayed water continuously onto the vapors that might occur in order to reduce the danger in the technical room. The reason: "Chlorine gas is water-soluble," explained Schneider. In addition, the chlorine gas concentration was constantly measured, both in the technical room and in the environment. At 0.15 a.m., the forces moved away.

In an emergency, however, the gas can become dangerous. If it gets into the air, acid is formed, Schneider explained. Respiratory problems, irritation of the nose, damage to mucous membranes or even the lungs can occur. "But the advantage is that you can smell it. Usually you perceive it before it causes problems.“

Ten chlorine gas alarms since 2014

This type of deployment "is demanding, extensive and labour-intensive alright," said Schneider. The advantage: The forces knew what the hazardous substance was and exactly what the situation was on site. However, they had to work with protective suits that needed to "be decontaminated afterwards". "In any case, it is not an everyday operation for us," says Schneider.

Since 2014, a total of ten chlorine gas alarms have been received by the Bonn fire brigade - including the Friesi operation, according to Zießnitz. Six times it was a false alarm, twice "the monitoring system was triggered in the course of a bottle exchange". Small amounts of chlorine gas had got into the measuring point and the fire brigade did not have to take action. Twice things got serious: on Monday in the Friesi and in July 2016 in the Hardtbergbad, a small hole in a chlorine gas bottle there had ensured that 50 visitors had to leave the bath - as a precaution.

As a general rule, the fire brigade always deploys a large contingent if ABC is suspected. Even if it turns out to be a false alarm in the end.

(Original text: Ayla Jacob; Translation: Mareike Graepel)