Tri-District Hazmat Response In Northwestern Missouri

An increase in hazardous materials call volume in their response areas prompted three northwestern Missouri fire protection districts (FPDs) to combine resources and form the Tri-District Hazardous Materials Response Team (HMRT). The three districts...


An increase in hazardous materials call volume in their response areas prompted three northwestern Missouri fire protection districts (FPDs) to combine resources and form the Tri-District Hazardous Materials Response Team (HMRT). The three districts — Central Jackson County, Fort Osage and Sni...


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An increase in hazardous materials call volume in their response areas prompted three northwestern Missouri fire protection districts (FPDs) to combine resources and form the Tri-District Hazardous Materials Response Team (HMRT). The three districts — Central Jackson County, Fort Osage and Sni Valley — created the team to provide hazmat response in the eastern suburbs of Kansas City, MO, with its 75,000 residents in a coverage area of 52 square miles.

Central Jackson County provides housing for the hazardous materials response unit and the other districts provide personnel. When an alarm comes in, on-duty and off-duty technicians from all districts respond to Central Jackson County FPD Station 3 for a briefing and are transported to the incident scene. An engine company and medic unit may also be dispatched initially for decontamination and medical needs of the team. Team membership is voluntary and members are trained to the technician level. All other district personnel are trained to the operations level.

The Central Jackson County Fire Protection District (CJCFPD) was formed in 1961 from the Blue Springs and Lake Tapawingo areas of Jackson County. CJCFPD is led by Chief Steve Westermann and has five stations staffed by 124 career personnel, including eight dispatchers. Twenty-one firefighters are hazmat technicians and part of the Tri-District Hazmat Team. Apparatus operated by CJCFPD include four engine companies, one truck company, one rescue company and three medic units. CJCFPD also has a light/air unit, two tankers, two brush units and swiftwater, high-angle and trench rescue teams. A medevac helicopter and its crew are housed at Station 3, but not affiliated with the fire district.

The Fort Osage Fire Protection District was formed in 1953 and covers 115 square miles, including the towns of Buckner, Levasy, River Bend and Sibley, the former Salem FPD and the surrounding rural areas with a population of 15,000. The name Fort Osage came from the original fort along the Missouri River, which was a trading post in the early 1800s. The district's 34 paid personnel are led by Chief Greg Pottberg. They respond from three stations with three engine companies, one truck company, three medic units, two brush trucks and two tankers. The district is bounded by Liberty on the north, Independence, Kansas City and Sugar Creek on the west, the Central Jackson County and Sni Valley FPDs on the south, and the Wellington-Napoleon FPD on the east. Twelve personnel are trained to the hazmat technician level and are members of the Tri-District HMRT.

The Sni Valley Fire Protection District was formed in 1976, incorporating the City of Oak Grove Fire Department and 40 square miles of rural Jackson County. Fire protection districts in Missouri are government subdivisions and can levy property taxes and, in some cases, sales taxes. Other government subdivisions can petition the fire protection district to become a part of it. In 1978, a 38-square-mile area of Lafayette County, including Bates City, voted to join the Sni Valley FPD. That brought the district to the present 78-square-mile coverage area. The name Sni Valley comes from Sni-A-Bar Creek and the district boundaries' cover most of the creek's watershed area. The Sni Valley FPD is led by Chief John Van Gorkom with 19 career personnel and 12 volunteers operating from two stations. Sni Valley FPD responds with two engine companies, one truck company, two water tenders (tankers), two advanced life support (ALS) medic units and two brush trucks. Six personnel are trained to the hazmat technician level and are members of the Tri-District HMRT.

In the mid-1980s, a leaking tank car of formic acid started local chiefs thinking about establishing a hazmat team. In April 1988, the Tri-District team was placed in operation with a retired United Parcel Service (UPS) truck, two beverage trucks and a retired ambulance. Originally, the team's equipment was housed at Central Jackson County Station 4, which became the training academy. For the past 12 years, the Tri-District hazardous materials response unit, HM-1, has been housed at CJCFPD Station 3.

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