HazMat Team Spotlight: Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Slideshow Images: Anne Arundel County, Maryland HazMat Team Department and Hazardous Materials Team Overview


Department and Hazardous Materials Team Overview

Anne Arundel County, Maryland is located south of the City of Baltimore and has a combination career and volunteer fire department led by Chief Ronald Blackwell. The fire department covers 588 square miles of land and 172 square miles of water located on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Anne Arundel County has a population of over 750,000. Fire protection is provided by the Anne Arundel County Fire Department for the entire county except for the Baltimore Washington International Airport, which is served by its own state fire department, U.S. Army Post Fort George G. Meade, which has its own federal fire department, and the City of Annapolis, which has its own municipal fire department.

Anne Arundel County was formed as an original Maryland county in 1650 and has operated under a County Charter government since 1965. Following the formation of the county charter government in 1965 all city governments and services in the county were dissolved except for the City of Annapolis. All governmental services including fire and police are currently provided by Anne Arundel County. Fire Protection in Anne Arundel County has historically been provided by volunteers. Whole families were sometimes involved in the local volunteer fire company. In 1924, the Maryland State Legislature authorized Anne Arundel County Commissioners to appoint a paid "chauffer and caretaker" for the volunteer stations at Earleigh Heights, Glen Burnie, and Eastport. "Chauffeurs" became county employees in 1932 and were later called "Engineman".

As the county grew, so did demand for emergency services and the department evolved into today's combination county fire department with 496 volunteer and 799 career firefighters and EMS personnel. Additional enginemen were added forming a three platoon shift of 24 hours on and 48 hours off that is still in effect today. In 1963 the position of fire marshal was established. When the county charter government was formed the present day Anne Arundel County Fire Department was formed. Harry W. Klasmeier (Chief "K") was appointed the first Fire Administrator and served until 1983. He was instrumental in bringing together the independent volunteer fire companies to form a central county fire department. During 1966 a Central Alarm and Communications Center was established along with a fire prevention bureau and training division.

Anne Arundel County Fire Department provides county wide fire, EMS, and rescue services from 30 fire stations. They have 54 available engines with 29 engine companies normally in service, there are 40 medic units available with 20 ALS and 9 BLS medic units normally in service, there are 13 truck companies with 12 normally in service (2 of which are quints), 1 hazardous materials/special operations company, 1 dive rescue team, 22 brush units, 1 collapse rescue team, and 7 fireboats. Anne Arundel County Fire Department responds to over 59,000 alarms each year. Of those alarms approximately over 44,000 are EMS and 15,000 are fire related.

Anne Arundel County formed their hazardous materials team in 1987 at Station 23 taking advantage of federal grant money that was available for hazmat team training, development and equipment. Their first unit was a 1984 Pem Fab/E-One pumper and a 1985 Chevrolet Suburban (Special Unit 23). The first hazmat unit was a 1989 Pem Fab/American Eagle, 1250 gpm pumper with a "squad type" body. The unit was a rear engine design which allowed for a fully functional command cab. This unit responded as an engine company on all types of calls and to hazardous materials incidents as needed. The hazardous materials unit responds to an average of 140 hazardous materials calls a year. Statistics for hazmat responses do not include local engine runs for hydrocarbon fuel spills and natural gas leaks. Each engine company carries absorbent material for small hydrocarbon spills less than 100 gallons. When a spill is greater than 100 gallons the hazmat team responds.

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