Todays society dictates that we all live in a world of chemicals. These chemicals exist in our homes, in our places of business, in industry and in all of our transportation systems. Many of these chemicals, when used improperly or accidentally released, may be harmful to the public and/or the environment.
The Fire District operates a Hazardous Materials Team and Response Unit that is trained and equipped to respond to hazardous materials events. Personnel assigned to this unit are trained to the National Fire Protection Association Hazardous Materials Technician level and are highly proficient in the identification and handling of hazardous chemicals.
|The response unit is equipped with a wide array of testing equipment and materials used to identify unknown substances. The unit also carries a large set of resource materials and is equipped to electronically access national chemical and transportation data bases used to research reactivity, flammability, toxicity, potential plume spread, establish evacuation parameters, identify neutralizing agents and provide guidance on decontamination and clean-up techniques.
Accidental hazardous material releases activate a complex and well-tested response system.
The unit carries an extensive supply of personnel protective equipment including breathing apparatus, chemical suits and decontamination systems designed to protect technicians when working in a contaminated environment. Additionally, the unit is equipped with a large quantity of supplies and materials for the control and containment of spills.
As Hazardous Materials response capability is expensive and requires a great deal of expertise and training, not all local fire departments are able to maintain this capability. The Boone County Fire District, under agreement with the Missouri Division of Fire Safety and the State Emergency Management Agency, has been identified as one of 14 regional hazardous materials response units in Missouri and may be called upon by the state or a neighboring fire department in central Missouri to assist a local jurisdiction in the control of a hazardous materials release.
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Response
The growing threat of domestic terrorism has brought new challenges to Americas fire service organizations. This threat that, historically, centered on explosive devices has now expanded to include the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological agents all elements of the hazardous materials environment. Parallel to the operational challenges of a hazardous materials response unit, this capability is, likewise, very challenging for most fire departments.
As a result of the Fire Districts pre-existing regional hazardous materials capability and its involvement in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Urban Search & Rescue Task Force Program, the State Emergency Management Agency has designated the Boone County Fire District as the Missouri WMD response unit and may be deployed by the Governor to any WMD event in Missouri.
Clandestine Drug Lab Response
With the growing proliferation of clandestine drug labs in Missouri, the state has created regional clandestine drug lab response teams consisting of law enforcement officers from the various law enforcement agencies in the region. As illegal drug labs contain, in most cases, significant quantities of hazardous materials such as ether and anhydrous ammonia, there is a need for hazardous materials capability on these teams. The Boone County Fire District Hazardous Materials Response Unit is in integral part of central Missouris drug task force and responds to clandestine drug lab scenes with law enforcement personnel to assist and support them in an effort to minimize the potential for explosion and fire by stabilizing the chemicals and to protect the law enforcement officers from unnecessary contamination.
Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)
A number of years ago, the federal government mandated that all states and local governments develop planning committees to create contingency plans for hazardous materials events in their respective communities. These local committees are comprised of representatives from emergency services, health care, industry, transportation, media, environmental organizations and the public. The Boone County Commission has designated the Boone County Fire District as chair of this very important community effort.