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The Rise of a Semiconductor Factory

April 26, 2011
Written by: TimesUnion

Malta Fire Companies Ramp Up

MALTA -- The rise of a semiconductor factory in Luther Forest puts new demands on the Malta Ridge Fire Company, but the volunteer department is ready for the challenge, Chief Peter Shaw said Monday. Malta Ridge has approximately 58 active volunteers and a yearly budget of roughly $650,000 paid by
taxpayers through the town budget.

Round Lake Mayor Dixie Lee Sacks said recently that she is worried about what would happen if a vehicle carrying hazardous chemicals crashed en route to the Luther Forest Technology Campus.

Malta Supervisor, Paul Sausville said last week that personnel at GlobalFoundries should be prepared to leave their site to respond to emergencies, which spokesmen for the company said is not feasible.

Shaw, a firefighter for 25 years and a captain in the Saratoga Springs Fire Department, agreed it is inappropriate for GlobalFoundries staff to leave their site. He compared it to the differences between nurses and paramedics: Although they have similar skills, they practice them in totally different arenas.

Shaw is among the firefighters who have been meeting monthly -- lately, every other week -- for two years to talk about emergency preparedness. It has included a discussion of each chemical that will be transported to the tech park and how to prepare for a possible spill.

"No matter what it is, our reaction initially is the same," Shaw said. "We keep people back, identify it and then go from there, whether it's milk or the worst possible substance." Ultimately, in the case of an accident involving a vehicle hauling hazardous materials the transportation company is responsible for cleaning up a spill, Shaw said.

GlobalFoundries' emergency response team will not leave the tech park but is readily available with information, Shaw said, in both an ongoing and emergency basis.

Technical training isn't the only issue Malta Ridge is grappling with. Shaw said the firefighters are taking the first steps toward building a new substation.

One plan is to close the Route 9 substation, share services with the Round Lake Fire Department -- which also would close its substation -- and open a new substation on Dunning Street. The town already owns four acres there, near the Luther Forest neighborhood.

The fire department has other needs as well -- bigger trucks to cope with Malta's growing housing stock, for example -- but a new substation is top priority, Shaw said.