Each year Marietta fire units respond to about 400 calls that are classified as true hazardous materials incidents. A hazardous material is any item or agent--biological, chemical, physical--that has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment either by or through interaction with other factors. Often fire personnel encounter hazardous materials when they respond to other types of calls for service. For example, motor vehicle accidents create hazards such as fuel spills; while the danger of a fuel spill from a passenger car may be relatively small, one from an overturned dump truck with ruptured 50 gallon saddle fuel tanks could pose serious a threat to the environment.
If the first fire unit on a scene is unaware that an underlying condition exists, a situation can rapidly mushroom beyond that unit's capability. When this occurs, the fire officer requests a response by hazardous materials crews. Most of the crews operate at the Technician level. A number of Marietta Firefighters have attended Advanced Hazmat School and are certified as Specialists; crews rely on these individuals for their advanced knowledge of atmospheric hazards, proper sampling techniques, and patient decontamination procedures.
Collectively, Marietta Fire personnel participate in over 2,000 hours of Hazmat training each year.
Hazmat crews train with the goal of being prepared for any type of event, including both accidental and intentional releases, as well as situations of domestic terrorism.
Public education plays an important role in preventing accidental hazardous materials incidents.
Small signs known as placards identify significant amounts of materials that are being transported. This trailer's placards indicate that the driver is transporting both corrosive and radioactive materials.
American interstates and railroads carry varying amounts and forms of hazardous chemicals. The firefighters who responded to this motor vehicle accident on Interstate 75 found a tractor trailer carrying a large container of trichloroisocyanuric acid.
Firefighters go through decontamination after a hazardous materials event.