Team History


 

The History & Background

 

ERIE COUNTY
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS RESPONSE TEAM
 

 

BACKGROUND

 

The Hazardous Materials Response Team was originally formed in 1983 at request of the Erie County Emergency Management Agency when it determined that a capability to respond to incidents involving hazardous materials was required. The team, all volunteers, acquired the needed equipment and training through funding from the County of Erie, and from donations of money and equipment from area Business, Industry, and Fire Departments. The Team was fully equipped and trained prior to the Federal and State requirements identified the need.
 

 

 

 

The Erie County Hazardous Materials Response Team was one of the first teams to be certified by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency October 1992, it is a fully Certified Level "A" Entry Team. It consists of a group of highly skilled volunteers from throughout Erie County who are organized to respond to releases or threats of releases of hazardous materials. They are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The team is a formally recognized county entity, which is under the direction of the Erie County Emergency Management Agency. There are currently 27 members on the team.

 

 

Erie County meets its obligations under Act 165, the Hazardous Material Emergency Planning and Response Act by having a certified team in place. Pennsylvania passed this act to comply with the requirements contained in the Federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986. These acts and Erie County Ordinance Number 10, 1991 provide funding for the team through fees assessed to facilities who use or store hazardous materials. The team can also be reimbursed for resources expended during responses by those parties who cause a release. All specialized training, physicals, equipment, vehicles and insurance for team members are provided to the team by the county using funds generated under Act 165. Team members are protected from civil liability when responding to releases as described in Act 165.

 

 

TEAM ORGANIZATION AND TRAINING

 

The team is organized and operates according to its Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG's). There is a president and officers for conducting normal team business and meetings, and chief and operational officers for managing emergency responses.

 

 

The team is equipped to respond to all types of hazardous materials emergencies. They include incidents involving: poisons and poisonous gases, corrosives, flammable liquids and gases, petroleum products, radiological materials, reactive materials, biological agents and Weapons of Mass Destruction. In addition the team is capable to responding to mixtures of these substances. The team also plays a vital role in identifying unknown substances that are released to the environment or which may present a public safety threat. Individual team members also consult with public safety officials from communities in the county as necessary for developing plans and responses to hazardous materials emergencies in their areas.

 

 

Each member of the team has at a minimum a background in firefighting or industrial safety, emergency operations, and the required hazardous materials courses. Each team member must also attend annual refresher training in hazardous materials response and meet the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standards for Emergency Responders for Hazardous Materials Incidents (29 CFR 1910.120) as required by Act 165.

 

 

TEAM OPERATIONS

 

The team is dispatched by Erie County 911. They can be requested via radio, phone call or by telephone through a communications center. All team members carry Alpha/Numeric, digital pagers, and cell phones that are simultaneously set off when activated. A majority of the team members will respond directly to the incident with the remainder responding with the required equipment. The County EMA Director, or designee will also respond as required by Act 165.

 

 

The team responds at the request of the Incident Commander in charge. The team’s response is to be considered as mutual aid. The team will only respond if there is a fire department, minimum one pumper, and a medical unit on scene, these requirements are to maintain PA certification. Teams members must have vitals taken and documented by EMS personnel before and after entering a hazardous environment requiring use of CPC.

 

 

The HAZMAT Team operates under the incident command system; they are not the incident commander, rather a part of the response organization. The Incident Commander remains in command and has overall jurisdiction of the scene. Under State and Federal laws the HAZMAT team can only mitigate the situation, once under control or contained, the team duties are completed. The team cannot remove any hazardous materials from the scene; cleanup is the responsibility of the spiller and must be done by a certified individual or company.


Erie County Courthouse - 140 West Sixth Street, Erie, PA 16501 - (814) 451-6000 - TDD Phone: (814) 451-6237 - Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm
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