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Local fire departments train for industrial accidents like Texas explosion

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HOPEWELL, Va (WTVR)--Hopewell was once known as the "Chemical Capital of the World" and while that doesn't hold true today, the city does have its fair share of large industries.

And many who live there, like Richard Harrup, can walk out their front or back doors and see smoke stacks. Since 1973, Harrup has lived in a house overlooking three plants.

"It's a chemical factory, I know it's a dangerous place but they do a good job, in my opinion, they try to work safely and they don't want nothing to happen," he said.

For many who live in Hopewell, like Jimmy Petway, living with industrial factories is a way of life and made for a good paying job, so fear is not part of the equation.

"No matter where you live, there's going to be something that can go wrong, that can endanger you, so I feel about as safe here, as anywhere else," says Petway, whose front door also overlooks three factories.

Hopewell Fire Department has spent years training inside the different industrial plants and working with them in pre-planning, just in case of a catastrophic event like what happened in West, Texas Wednesday night.

They are watching closely the details out of the investigation in Texas, to see if they can learn how better to protect their first responders if a similar incident happens and they're not alone.

Richmond Fire Department, which also services a large industrial area, wants to learn more about the fire and explosion, to utilize lessons from what happened.