Hazmat Team Spotlight

In five words, his guiding principles are: "Prevent harm. Survive.

Be nice."

Chief Alan Brunacini

Volume 5 provides an in-depth look at selected hazardous materials teams across the United States and Canada. This volume will focus on hazardous materials teams to highlight information that can be shared by other departments and personnel. Incidents that these hazmat teams have experienced may also provide some lessons learned to help other teams in the future. Fire departments have always responded to emergencies involving chemicals. In fact the fire department is our nation's first responder to all types of emergencies including fires, hazardous materials, emergency medical, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism.

Hazardous materials (hazmat) became the buzz word of the 1970s and 1980s. With the passage of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 (also known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act, EPCRA) and continued reauthorization over the years, hazmat took a giant leap forward in the United States Emergency Response Community. Starting with the Jacksonville Fire Department, hazmat teams sprang up across the United States and Canada within a very short period of time.

Hundreds, if not thousands of hazardous materials teams and thousands of hazardous materials team members placed these teams in service from 1978 through the early 2000s.

Reasons for establishing hazmat teams in jurisdictions also vary from major incidents. Hearing about the formation of other teams, to dealing with potential hazardous materials in a community and in response to new Federal Regulations in the 1980s. It is interesting to see all the different types, configurations and colors of vehicles. Staffing also differs in many jurisdictions along with training requirements for personnel. There have been several trends over the years involving regional teams, consolidation, and transition from hazmat teams to Special Operations teams that not only do hazmat but various forms of rescue as well.

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