By Lori Araujo
The Department of Energy’s Volpentest HAMMER Federal Training Center is a critical resource for worker health and safety at the Hanford site.
The facility north of Richland features an 88-acre campus comprised of numerous classrooms, specialty training areas and props that create a variety of hazardous material and emergency response scenarios. Annually, HAMMER trains thousands of personnel.
Hammer stands for Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response. The facility at 2890 Horn Rapids Road is owned by DOE and operated by Mission Support Alliance.
About 100 people work at HAMMER to support Hanford training and other separately funded national programs. In addition to DOE, HAMMER is also a training resource for other federal agencies, tribal nations and state and local governments in areas such as transportation, emergency response, military readiness, safety and health, fire protection and law enforcement.
HAMMER’s staff work to create a safe, realistic environment where workers are trained and prepared for hazardous and challenging work, not only at Hanford but around the globe.
HAMMER delivers the high-caliber safety training in fall protection, hazardous energy control, confined space, radiological safety and respiratory protection. Despite the best and most careful planning, the unexpected can and does happen, but with the training received at HAMMER, workers are better prepared to take the correct actions to ensure their safety when faced with the unexpected.
HAMMER partners with Hanford site contractors to address on-site safety. It recently developed an Industrial Hygiene Technician Fundamentals Program to improve skills across the site. The technicians are a fundamental part of the site contractors’ programs for protecting workers from exposure to hazardous materials. HAMMER’s training courses are infused with relevant lessons learned on the site to provide workers with current, meaningful information.
HAMMER sponsors the Hanford Future Workforce Subcommittee, partnering with DOE, site contractors, labor unions, tribes, the Tri-City Development Council, Columbia Basin College, and Washington State University Tri-Cities to address worker turnover, retention and recruitment.
Current initiatives include targeted recruitment strategies, craft apprenticeship programs, educational outreach and work force stability. Additionally, HAMMER hosts visits for high school students, presenting hands-on activities, demonstrations and briefings to stimulate their interests in pursuing careers at Hanford.
Local, national and international groups also visit the training campus to conduct real-life drills for a wide array of scenarios.
The Hanford Fire Department and several other departments in the region use the props at HAMMER for emergency response training, including high-angle rope rescue activities, live firefighting and confined space entry. The Kennewick, Pasco and Richland fire departments will be at HAMMER for the Tri-City Regional Fire Training Academy for recruit training.
Fire Ops 101 is an annual event conducted at HAMMER by the Washington State Council of Firefighters and International Association of Firefighters. It offers participants a chance to experience a day in the life of a firefighter. Participants include local government officials, community members and reporters. The event features demanding activities such as ladder climbing, roof ventilation, search and rescue, vehicle extrication and live fire training. The 14th Fire Ops 101 event will be held in March at HAMMER.
This month, HAMMER will support working seminars during the Washington State Police Canine Association’s fall seminar, hosted by Hanford Patrol and Tri-City regional K9 units.
Additionally, domestic and international border security training is held at HAMMER in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. HAMMER also plays a critical role in disaster response for the nation, directly supporting DOE to maintain energy infrastructure during emergencies associated with hurricanes and other natural disasters.
On a national level, HAMMER partnered with the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to develop and implement the Train Rail Incident Preparedness and Response training modules to prepare emergency responders for hazardous railway incidents.
HAMMER’s overall mission is to provide training that saves lives and averts disasters. The knowledgeable staff, nationally-recognized worker trainers and world-class training center are dedicated to protecting workers and emergency responders locally, nationally and internationally.
Lori Araujo is a communications specialist at Mission Support Alliance.
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