City of Alexandria, VA
Hazardous Materials Response Team
The City of Alexandria has hundreds of facilities using and producing hazardous materials. It also has all major modes of transportation by which hazardous materials are transported, including by water, neighboring major airport, interstate highway traffic, railroad, and several miles of transportation routes within the city.
The Alexandria Fire Department, having the primary responsibility for response to hazardous materials incidents in the City of Alexandria, prepared for responding to incidents of this nature by establishing a Hazardous Materials Response Team in 1984.
In 1987, the City of Alexandria Hazardous Materials Response Team became an integral part of the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Emergency Services. Through contractual agreements, the Alexandria Hazardous Materials Response Team provides hazardous materials emergency response to numerous counties surrounding the City. This unique partnership shares local and state resources, is a cost-effective and efficient method of providing services, and has become a program admired by departments nationally.
In 1994, the Hazardous Materials Response Team expanded neighboring Arlington County Fire Department combined their personnel and resources with those of Alexandria. This new combination of personnel and resources is now the Northern Virginia Hazardous Materials Response Team. This team of highly trained professionals responds to approximately 130 suspected hazardous materials incidents annually occurring in the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and portions of Prince William and Fauquier Counties. Their primary response area is Northern Virginia, but the team can be deployed wherever needed within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Resources - More than 80 Alexandria/Arlington Haz-Mat Technician and Specialist trained personnel provide staffing for the Haz-Mat Team and Support Team. All other operations personnel are trained to the Hazardous Materials Operations Level Certification.
Hazardous Materials Unit - Responds to all hazardous materials incidents. This is a compartmented Hackney truck style vehicle. It contains an on board computer with CAMEO, OREIS, Electronic Pesticide Dictionary, and various suit compatibility software programs. The unit also carries a reference library, communications equipment, monitoring equipment (drager tubes, haz cat kit, CO-H2S-O2-LEL monitors, Photo Ionization Device, ph, spill and waste classifiers. Alpha/Beta/Gamma radiation detectors) PPE (Level A, Level B, nomex, gloves, boots, helmets, SCBA, etc.) absorbents, neutralizers, inflatable air shelter, DECON equipment, tools and other miscellaneous equipment. The rear of the unit also functions as a command cab.
Support Unit - Responds to hazardous materials investigations and incidents. This is a full sized pick-up truck with a compartmented utility body. It contains monitoring and detection equipment similar to the haz mat unit, a small amount of absorbent materials, miscellaneous tools and equipment.
Trailer 209 - This is a 20 foot fully enclosed utility trailer. The trailer contains a large amount of absorbent materials including various sizes of booming for waterway spills. The trailer also contains over-pack drums and containers and miscellaneous tools and equipment used to mitigate hazardous materials incidents.
Training - All Haz Mat Team and Support Team members have completed the Hazardous Materials Operations Level Certification and the Technician Level Certification for a minimum of 120 hours of training. All members assigned to the Haz Mat Team at Station 209 have also completed advanced level certifications, including the Chemistry of Hazardous Materials certification for a minimum of 240 hours of training, to become Department of Emergency Services Certified Specialists. The hazardous materials team conducts monthly training sessions with each shift. In addition, the hazardous materials team conducts three "team" drills per year which involve various agencies and the team in a cohesive effort to mitigate a simulated incident. Members of the haz mat team are required to attend at least 24 hours of continuing education per year to maintain their certification.