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Martin County Fire Rescue keep up with uptick in gas leak calls amid Treasure Coast growth

'With the growth in the county, it's definitely gotten busier,' firefighter Daniel Cheston says
Posted at 6:22 PM, Jan 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-11 18:22:48-05

STUART, Fla. — It's an impact of the growth WPTV has reported on across the Treasure Coast—an uptick in gas leaks and hazmat calls.

Martin County Fire Rescue told WPTV that with now constant construction, comes an influx of gas leaks in particular they are responding to.

"It seems like we’ve gotten a gas leak call almost every day lately," firefighter Daniel Cheston said.

Cheston gave WPTV an in-depth look at the hazmat technology used to respond to gas leaks, and other emergencies, just a week after a gas leak in Palm City shut down a portion of Martin Highway for five hours, sequestering businesses like Engine World Lawn Equipment off Deggeller Court.

"There was absolutely no traffic allowed in or out," owner Joyce Hanner said. "No one could come in or out, they couldn’t pick up their equipment, parts or anything."

It was crippling for the small Palm City business owner, who said during their slow winter months, every customer is critical to making a profit.

"It's important to have the traffic coming through," Hanner said.

firefighter Daniel Cheston Martin County Fire Rescue 01112024
Martin County Fire Rescue firefighter Daniel Cheston explains how they use technology to respond to hazmat calls.

Yet, it wasn't the first time in recent weeks a gas leak, or similar emergency, halted life in Palm City and other parts of the County.

A week before on Dec. 30, crews responded to an oil spill on Silver Wolf Drive.

On Dec. 13, Martin County Fire Rescue evacuated a portion of the Emerald Lakes Community for yet another gas leak.

"With the growth in the county, it's definitely gotten busier," Cheston said. "Last shift we had one, today we had one."

Thankfully, Cheston said MCFR is prepared to handle these situations. While gas leaks are out of their control, responding to them certainly isn't, and Cheston showed Hussey a truck full of tools to help crews do so.

owner Joyce Hanner Martin County 01112024
Joyce Hanner explains how gas leaks affect her business.

Their slew of supplies includes breathing machines, monitors that help detect and find a gas leak, decontamination devices, shovels to dig for underground, leaking pipes, and other tools that protect against breathing in toxic particles.

"Anything from a basic chemical spill to an enormous, hazardous event," Cheston said.

Crews also go through rigorous training to help prepare for even the worst of situations, and recently took first place in a training competition.

"We want to get there as quickly as possible but also safely," Cheston said.

That being said, Cheston said the equipment may not help them secure a leak quicker than before, but he said it helps them keep up with the increasing amount of calls.