Hawaii Big Island Hazmat Team: Hazmat Response on the Island of Volcano’s

Response on the Island of Volcano's

Prolog: Celebration of my 25th Wedding Anniversary brought me to Hawaii for a visit to three islands, Hawaii, Oahu, and Kauai. This visit to Hawaii could very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I just had to visit the Hawaii Fire Department to do a story on their hazmat team.

One of the things unique about the Hawaiian Islands is that each fire department is literally on an island. So, they have to be pretty much self-sufficient. No mutual aid is available. Evacuations on the island are also somewhat limited in the case of a hazardous materials release. When I was flying in for a landing in Kona on the Big Islands Southern Shore, I noticed what I thought were some large burned areas from a brush fire. Turns out it was just lava that has not yet been covered with vegetation. Apparently it takes 100 years or more for vegetation to start growing on the lava. Because of this lack of vegetation areas of the island look like they are on another planet! We had a wonderful time in the Big Island as it is also known and the visit to the hazmat team was an awesome part of it.

The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands and several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaii in the south to the northernmost Kure Atoll.

Hawaii County, sometimes referred to as the "Big Island" of Hawaii is the eastern most county in the State of Hawaii. It covers an area of 5,087 miles2, but is still growing because of lava flow activity from the Kilauea Volcano, which increased greatly during a major eruption in 2018. The Island of Hawaii is the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian Islands and many areas of land mass are lava flows without any vegetation. The Big Island has almost 63% of the land mass in the State of Hawaii with a population of 203,943 in 2020. There are no incorporated cities on the island and the government including the fire department covers the entire county. The county seat is in Hilo (pronounced Helo) on the Northern shore.

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