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Sharon Kratzmann Volunteer Scientific Officer


Sharon Kratzmann is a consultant in occupational hygiene and hazardous materials, working with asbestos, silica and other chemicals. Based in Townsville, she’s been a volunteer with QFES for 14 years.

“I like being able to share my expertise,” Sharon said. “The biggest challenge is applying your knowledge to a situation and gathering data to make decisions about what to do.

“There can be pressure to have all the answers, but I’ve learnt to take my time and make a plan.”

Sharon has dealt with many kinds of hazardous materials, from white powder incidents to phosphide containers used to fumigate ships. 

“A chemical fire at a rural chemical supplier in Home Hill involved a particularly complex mix of chemicals,” she said. 

“I particularly remember that one because I entered the building in a hazmat suit with these huge shoes, but I’m only a size 6, so I had to walk up the stairs sideways. 

“The post office at the Lavarack Barracks was once evacuated because white powder was found in an envelope. When I tested the powder it was only sand. It turned out someone had invited the senior-most official to a play set on a beach, and they’d decorated the invitation with sand. It sounds trivial but it was a credible threat and there were significant consequences. 

“The firefighters are very supportive and respectful of what I bring to the table. After the Home Hill incident, they bought me a smaller set of shoes. They’ve also set aside a bucket of equipment for me to use. It’s really rewarding to be able to do something like this and help a situation.”