Seven jurisdictions in Snohomish County have come together as partners to create a regional hazardous materials (HazMat) response team to better serve our respective communities. The team is grateful to receive supplemental financial assistance from all of the other fire protection entities in Snohomish County who are known as affiliate agencies.
About 120 experienced fire officers and fire-fighters serve on the team. These responders, from the six member-agencies, are initially trained as HazMat Technicians and maintain certification in accordance with national consensus standards, and state and local regulations.
The Snohomish County Hazardous Materials Response Team operates under a tiered response system.
When someone calls 911, we are ready to assist 24 hours a day - every day. Some HazMat releases may pose an emergency threat and may be beyond the scope of the local fire department. In such cases, technical assistance is provided by the HazMat team through one of the four response units.
For larger-scale emergencies, all four response units are dispatched and converge on the scene to make technical recommendations to the incident commander. The team is ready to assist with tasks like product identification, risk assessment, plugging/patching and decontamination. For long-term incidents, off-duty personnel may be called back to work during planned operational periods.
Response assets of the Snohomish County Haz- Mat Response Team have been greatly improved over the past several years. Currently, the team operates four technical response units located strategically in Snohomish County.
The team has assembled a vast array of technical equipment that provides the ability to detect and/or identify chemical, biological, radio-logical, and explosive materials. Various levels of chemical protective clothing and equipment needed to enter dangerous atmospheres are contained on each of the response units.
Technicians are capable of performing hazard risk assessments to include estimating release rates and downwind threats to populations using current weather data and plume dispersion modeling technologies.
The Snohomish County Special Operations Policy Board sets the legal, financial and policy aspects of the HazMat team. The board is comprised of a senior chief officer from each member-agency. Reporting to the board is the HazMat Operations Committee. This committee is responsible for overseeing the operational readiness of the team. Two subcommittees, Training and Equipment, help assure technicians are trained and equipment is maintained in a state-of-readiness respectively.
The team is fortunate to have support from two emergency services partners: South County Fire, Snohomish County Finance and the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management (DEM).
These agencies provide continual support by assisting with the development of guiding documents, securing grants for training and equipment, and providing administrative assistance.