Local HazMat Response
In order to determine what type of HazMat Training your employees need, you need to know what services your local fire department or hazardous materials team can provide. Local HazMat services vary widely depending on the size of the city and the area in which you live.
To give you a general idea of the variance in HazMat response, we’ll explain HazMat services typically provided in smaller cities versus larger cities. If you have hazardous materials at your facility, you should contact your local fire department to find out the availability, response time, and capabilities of your local HazMat team. Before we go any further, let’s quickly define the training levels we’ll mention in this post.
Operations level – Trained to respond to hazardous material releases with the purpose of protecting nearby people, property, and environment. Responsible for containing the release but not actually stopping it.
Technician level – Trained to respond to hazardous material releases with the purpose of stopping it.
HazMat Response in Smaller Cities
We consider a smaller city to be around the size of Muskegon, as a local example, which has a population just shy of 40,000 people. In cities of this size or smaller, the HazMat Response would typically be handled by a County or Regional HazMat team. Fire departments in small cities usually have personnel trained to Operations level. The County or Regional HazMat team will typically have personnel trained to Technician level. In a HazMat Emergency, the HazMat team will be dispatched through 911 – a company can’t call the county or regional HazMat team directly.
HazMat Response in Larger Cities
In larger cities, the size of Grand Rapids, for example, the fire department will typically have personnel trained to Technician level. In most cases, the fire department would handle HazMat spills and would not need a County Rescue team. In a Hazmat Incident, the highest-ranking fire department official will become the Incident Command of the spill/release response.
Most public hazmat teams are not trained or equipped to handle spills in the soil, drains, surface impoundments, etc. A company will need to call an outside Hazardous Material Cleanup Contractor to clean up anything larger than an incidental spill. Every facility should have a cleanup contractor listed in its Emergency Response Plan.
What does this mean for HazMat Training at your facility?
If your local HazMat team or fire department can respond to spills at your facility, and the hazardous materials at your site are not Extremely Hazardous Substances, you should train new employees in Hazard Communication. This training will equip the employees to recognize a hazardous material and notify the proper authorities in a HazMat incident.
If your local HazMat team cannot adequately respond to spills at your facility, or if you want to be able to contain a spill with an in-house team, you’ll need to have employees trained to Operations level. If you want to clean up hazardous spills at your facility, or if your employees work with hazardous gases, they should be trained to Technician level.
If you have any questions about the type of HazMat training your employees might need, contact us!