HAZ-MAT Teams Well-Prepared

HAZ-MAT Teams Well-Prepared

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Sam Penrod ReportingWhen situations like this happen, Hazardous Materials teams get the call. Sam Penrod looks at just what those teams are prepared to do.

HAZ-MAT teams are called on several times a week to handle all kinds of situations. Most of them turn out to be minor, but as we all saw yesterday, sometimes their work is very dangerous.

When dangerous situations occur involving hazardous chemicals or substances, a HAZ-MAT team is first to respond. The Unified Fire Authority is one of many fire agencies in Utah equipped to handle a wide range of hazardous materials situations.

Capt. Doug Rice, Unified Fire Authority: "Often times it turns out to be nothing at all and those are the kind of calls we like we'd rather not have to take some of the steps were trained to take, we've got the training to be able to do that."

The Unified Fire Authority is equipped with a mobile lab where samples of unknown substances can be examined within minutes, so crews can stabilize the situation. HAZ-MAT teams are trained to handle all kinds of hazardous events.

Capt. Doug Rice, Unified Fire Authority: "Anything from basic chemistry classes all the way up to classes the homeland security department puts on for handling weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological agents."

While they have training to handle terrorist type events, they specialize in industrial toxins and chemicals. The most common calls involve flammable agents, such as gasoline, propane and last month's butane tanker crash and explosion in Davis County. HAZ-MAT teams say their best weapon is on-going training, so they can handle anything they are called to do.

Capt. Doug Rice, Unified Fire Authority: "We're not just playing dominoes and sitting around the fire station waiting for a call; we're doing a lot of training, everybody is doing a lot of training these days."

Those on the HAZ-MAT teams are also firefighters and many are also certified as paramedics, all of which takes years of training.

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