Hanson Pipe & Precast recently donated concrete pipe and precast products to the New Orleans Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team. This elite group is highly trained and well equipped to handle almost any emergency situation, but mainly focuses on structural collapse.

Hanson donated six U-channels, six round pipes, a box culvert, two concrete panels and a concrete slab with a 36-inch hole to conduct trench rescue and confined space training, in addition to structural collapse rescue. In the past, the team practiced on concrete panels that were too easy to break through and not realistic. However, with the help of Hanson Pipe & Precast, the New Orleans Fire Department is able to develop a core of confident concrete-breaching personnel, capable of cutting through real-life materials in real time.

"Hanson has donated thousands of dollars worth of time, material, man hours, and equipment hours to help us in our special operations training," said Captain Ruel Douvillier. "And most recently, they have donated all the material, work and equipment to build us a concrete trench-rescue training aid."

Training trenches dug in previous years have all collapsed, creating a situation too perilous for use by the team. Hanson Pipe & Precast donated all of the concrete materials, placed them properly on the site, and gathered enough soil to surround the training site and to comply with the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) standards.

"We were given a very unique opportunity to help the men and women who keep us safe in times of danger," said Mel Kensinger, Hanson Pipe & Precast, New Orleans plant manager. "It was important to us to provide them with the appropriate materials, enabling them to exercise the proper training for real-life emergencies."

The training aid was used for the first time by the New Orleans Fire Department on Saturday, July 11, 2009 for a USAR concrete breaching exercise. They intend to hold open trench rescue classes to benefit the entire New Orleans emergency response community. Training will continue in August for their six USAR rescue squads and they will conduct regular refresher training for each squad two-to-three times a year.