Hazmat Response On the "Big Island" of Hawaii

 Hawaii County, sometimes referred to as the "Big Island," is the easternmost county in the State of Hawaii. It covers an area of 5,087 square miles, but is still growing because of lava-flow activity from the Kilauea Volcano. The island of Hawaii is the...


  Hawaii County, sometimes referred to as the "Big Island," is the easternmost county in the State of Hawaii. It covers an area of 5,087 square miles, but is still growing because of lava-flow activity from the Kilauea Volcano. The island of Hawaii is the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian...


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Equipment carried on Hawaii County hazmat units is typical of most hazmat units. Level A chemical suits are Lakeland and Saint Gobain ONEsuits. Level B suits are encapsulated and non-encapsulated suits by Lakeland. In-suit communications are provided in an interface mounted directly to the MSA facemask and linked to a Motorola XTS 2500 via a PTT. Respiratory protection is provided by MSA 60-minute self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and MSA air purified respirators (APRs) used mainly for sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from the Kilauea Volcano.

Hazmat units are equipped with laptop computers with Internet access and printers. They have NIOSH, CAMEO, ALOHA, Marplot, COBRA and Ex-PUB computer software programs to assist in research for hazmat characteristics and information. Hard-copy reference materials carried on the units include the Coast Guard Chris Manuals, Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Farm Chemical Handbook, Merck Index and Association of American Railroads Explosives. Monitoring instruments for hazardous materials carried in addition to sulfur dioxide monitors includes Canberra dosimeters, Dräger tubes, thermal imager, Ludlum 14C, Micro RAD, Dräger four-gas, night-vision binoculars, Sensor IR and others. Terrorist agent monitors carried include APD 2000, Dräger CMS and MSA PID.

For additional information, contact Special Operations Battalion Chief Clint Coloma at 808-981-8365 (keep in mind that there is a five-hour time difference between Hawaii and the East Coast of the U.S. mainland).

ROBERT BURKE, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is the fire marshal for the University of Maryland Baltimore. He is a Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFSP), Fire Inspector II, Fire Inspector III, Fire Investigator and Hazardous Materials Specialist, and has served on state and county hazardous materials response teams. Burke is an adjunct instructor at the National Fire Academy and the Community College of Baltimore, Catonsville Campus, and the author of the textbooks Hazardous Materials Chemistry for Emergency Responders and Counter-Terrorism for Emergency Responders. He can be contacted at robert.burke@att.net.