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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Is your department ready for a hazmat incident?

Hazardous substances are found every day, all around us, in industrial, agricultural, and transportation settings

By Adam K. Thiel

This story provides yet another example of the prevalence of hazardous materials throughout our local communities, large and small.

You never know what might happen when responding to a hazmat call; where even the rain can be a game changer.

Hazardous materials response is not just about CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive), terrorism, or offshore oil platforms; hazardous substances are found every day, all around us, in industrial, agricultural, and transportation settings.

Beyond receiving the hazmat training required by federal regulations (both OSHA-Occupational Safety and Health Administration and EPA-Environmental Protection Agency), is your department ready to handle a hazmat incident? Ask yourself some simple questions:

  • Do we have current training?
  • Do we have the right equipment for awareness- and operations-level response?
  • Do we have current standard operating procedures for hazmat incidents?
  • Where is the nearest technician/specialist-level hazmat team and how do we call them?
  • Have we drilled/exercised on hazardous materials in the past year?

If the answers are no, or you're not sure, find out and get some help! The next load of chemicals is right around the corner...

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.


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