Ship Fire: Locals Drill Emergency Response

It may look real, but emergency responders on a boat in the Houston ship channel's turning basin are just practicing this afternoon. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, it's a joint agency maritime disaster exercise aimed at preparing first responders.

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The scenario involves the Cape Trinity, a real ship used for transporting military equipment overseas. More than a dozen agencies, including the US Coast Guard, the Texas DPS and the Houston Fire and Police Departments are helping with the drill. The Coast Guard's Adam Wine says officials are treating it like a real incident.

"It started with an explosion onboard a ship that resulted in a fire, chemical release as well as an oil spill. We're working together with all the local state and federal agencies. We're working towards exercising our response capability."

The exercise is called Trinity 2006 and is just one way local agencies simulate disasters and learn how to respond to real ones. A command post has been set up at the Houston Emergency Center to coordinate the response.

"It's an exercise to get us to all to work together so we all know each other as well as we've got contingency plans in place and it's testing those contingency plans and our knowledge of them and teaching of course a lot of the new folks who have just arrived in the area that are part of the team. So it's a combination of a little bit of testing and a little bit of teaching."

Parts of the Trinity exercise will continue through tomorrow afternoon.

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