Questions raised at a recent public safety meeting about the Winston Weaver fertilizer plant echo those of nearly a decade ago. After the plant fire in West Texas, the Winston-Salem fire chief at the time assured city officials that the Weaver plant was safe.  

Former Fire Chief Antony Farmer made his remarks at a public safety committee hearing on May 13, 2013. He sought to allay fears in the wake of the Texas plant explosion over Weaver's handling and storage of ammonium nitrate.

He then emphasized his department's preparedness in case of fire there, described key considerations in the event of such an emergency, and what a typical response might look like.

"We would expect that that would be a fire response," said Farmer. "This is a wood building and they do have product stored, loose product in the manufacturing area, and of course bagged products. And the key for them is to have that stuff stored properly, keep it dry, have the distances and separations, and they do that very well at Weaver."

The Weaver plant co-owner Vernon Carlton was there as well, and dismissed prior violations there as having been minor and later corrected.

This past month, a fire led authorities to recommend a one-mile evacuation zone surrounding the plant over fears of an explosion. Roughly 600 tons of combustible chemicals were stored there. 

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