BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A few swimmers showed up Friday for an early evening dip at Lovejoy Pool after a spill of muriatic acid forced an evacuation earlier in the afternoon.
And fire officials say, it was thanks to the quick decisions of the staff at Lovejoy that a hazardous situation wasn’t made worse.
Buffalo hazmat crews were called at approximately 1:30 p.m. after a small pipe in the basement that carries muriatic acid sprung a leak.
A lifeguard who was working in the room was briefly overcome by fumes, but she managed to get back upstairs and alert the rest of the staff, who then evacuated the few folks who were in the pool, according to Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield.
She was taken to the hospital for observation and is expected to be fine.
“There are a number of safety (protocols) that are in place, in terms of managing the pool, in terms of managing this kind of facility,” Whitfield said. “All those things were adhered to. What we cannot predict or prevent is a mechanical failure. This was a very small hose, like that of your icemaker to your refrigerator, and it sprung a leak and that’s what the problem was.
“The maintenance people here today phenomenal job, in limiting the amount of liquid that was released, by shutting down the pumps, following their protocols and making sure that everybody was out of the building.”
Officials are estimating about a quart of muriatic acid spilled onto the ground.
Though it was a small amount, the cleanup required a large response and shut down East Lovejoy Street in front of Lovejoy Discovery School.
It was still shut down during dismissal. School officials were upset because of what they called a lack of communication from the fire department. Buffalo’s fire commissioner says it’s a situation from which they’ll learn.
“We thought that we had sufficiently communicated to someone from the school. As it turns out, that was not the case. One of our Buffalo police officers also went in to brief them, but had very very limited information,” Whitfield said. “This is what we learn from, quite frankly. Every day is a learning experience for us and that’s something we want to do a better job of going forward.”
Another benefit of the response, the responding firehouse is directly across the street, so they didn’t have to go far.
Staff said they were reopening the pool before 5 p.m. for what is expected to be a busy weekend as the summer swimming season approaches.