Hazardous Materials Response

A hazardous material is any item or agent (biological, chemical, physical) which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors. While hazardous materials are present around us in our everyday lives, the potential for an emergency does exist. To be prepared for such an emergency, SBVFD members receive specialized training in the identification and handling of hazardous materials (or “HazMat“).

Awareness and Operations Training

During probationary training, all new members receive HazMat Awareness training. This training is designed to educate the first responder who, in the course of his or her duties, may be called to a situation involving hazardous materials. Common hazardous materials responses include motor vehicle accidents involving fuel spills or being called to a report of an unknown substance or odor. At the Awareness level, personnel are training to be able to identify a potential Haz Mat situation and to call for additional assistance.

SBVFD members participating in a Haz Mat Technician training program at the firehouse
SBVFD members participating in a HazMat Technician
training program at the firehouse.

During the Firefighter II program, members receive additional training to the Operations level that allows them to perform additional steps to help mitigate a HazMat situation, such as creating a dam to prevent fuel run off from entering a waterway. In addition to the 24 plus hours required to become certified to the Awareness and Operations level, members routinely participate in training exercises to better prepare for HazMat responses.

Technician Training

As the designated technical rescue department for the Town of Greenwich, many SBVFD members have received additional training above the Operational level. Haz Mat Technician level training involves over 160 hours worth of classroom and hands-on training. During this program, members learn advanced chemical identification techniques and how to properly handle a Haz Mat situation in an offensive mode.

CBRNE/WMD Training

Unfortunately, not all hazardous materials responses are accidental in nature. SBVFD members are specially trained to identify and respond to hazardous materials incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive devices (CBRNE) or otherwise known as ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ After the events of September 11, 2001, having the appropriate equipment and training to properly respond to such incidents is crucial.