The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Hazmat Team is now an accredited Type 1 Hazardous Materials Team. This team not only serves the local jurisdictions, but now it can be deployed across Tennessee and to different parts of the country by the state and federal government to handle major incidents. It includes members of the Chattanooga Fire Department and Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management/Hazmat.
Type 1 Teams are designed to respond to, asses and mitigate a large-scale, complex and sustained-duration incident that may involve multiple hazards consisting of known and/or unknown hazardous materials, including weapons of mass destruction (WMD) materials and substances including chemical warfare agents (CWA).
Members of the team have the knowledge and training to deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats. They can use advanced testing instruments, such as gas chromatography and mass spectrometry devices, for increased ability to detect and identify contaminants. The team is equipped with advanced real-time field instruments for perimeter air monitoring, such as surface acoustic wave (SAW) or nanotechnology devices. They are used to detect both liquid and gas CWAs and toxic industrial chemicals (TICs), organic and inorganic gases, explosives, illicit drugs and biological agents.
Thousands of training hours and years of hard work went into the accreditation process. The city and county funded the purchase of new equipment and hazmat response suits that FEMA requires of a Type 1 response team. For the credentialing, TEMA representatives graded the Chattanooga-Hamilton County team over the course of several days. They had to inventory all of their equipment and demonstrate that they knew how to use all of it. They also took part in a large scale mock exercise that lasted nearly eight hours and simulated a CBRN incident.
“This helps better prepare our community for big events with all of the dangerous materials that come through our area every single day on our highways, railways, airways and waterways. Congratulations to the team and to our community for having this kind of asset,” said HCOEM Director Chris Adams.
“The Chattanooga Fire Department and Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management are leading the way with this new method of credentialing hazmat teams in Tennessee,” added Chattanooga Fire Chief Phil Hyman. “This is the next level for our highly skilled and highly trained team and we know they’ll do great work to protect the safety of the public.”