SFFMA Logo.jpg (114427 bytes)CLVFD Logo.JPG (4202 bytes)COLUMBIA LAKES

     VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT  

 


 

Harris County FESD HAZMAT Response Team

(Their Story)

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The terrorist attacks of September 11th and the events during the following months demonstrated the threat of terrorist activities in Harris County. Also with a rash of white powder incidents around the United States, the large number of suspicious incidents overloaded the response system and demonstrated the need for regional weapons of mass destruction (WMD) response capability. Both the City and County Governments took a look at what was available in their areas to provide some type of timely response to hazardous material incidents. Harris County, Texas was one of them.

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The original purpose of this team was to respond to suspected terrorist attacks or WMD incidents. Additional capabilities – training local first responders, assisting with traditional FESD inspection and investigation activities, and responding to large-scale incidents – quickly became apparent. During the height of the white powder calls, the only dedicated hazardous materials team in the area (Houston F.D. HM22) found themselves inundated with calls for response to these incidents inside the City of Houston alone. This left the unincorporated areas and smaller municipalities of Harris County without dedicated Hazardous Materials response until HFD HM22 was freed up to provide mutual aid response to the surrounding local fire departments.

In July of 2002, Harris County Commissioners Court approved the first four HAZMAT positions through the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office. In 2003, the newly created team responded to 81 hazardous material incidents plus providing Hazardous Materials

training to local fire departments. Through a grant from the Office of Homeland Security, The HAZMAT Team ordered a 2004 Pierce response vehicle known today as HM-1. The team took possession of HM-1 April 01, 2004 and has responded to 225 calls including white powder, hydrofluoric acid releases, chemical and petroleum tank truck rollovers.

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The team increased to 10 people providing 24-7-365 coverage to the county and 12 surrounding HGAC Regional counties. The team has trained many local police and fire departments in awareness, operations, and technician level hazmat certification classes as well as working with multiple state and federal agencies including the FBI, DEA, TxDPS on WMD training and cultural events such as the Super bowl and All-Star Game.

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