HazMat Team Spotlight: San Diego Fire Department

Slideshow Images: San Diego Fire Department HazMat Team Located on the Pacific Coast in the southwest corner of Southern California, San Diego is the sixth-largest city in the U.S. and the second largest in the state.

Radiation Monitors:

  • Ludlum radiological detector

Personnel Protective Equipment

Level A

  • Tyborg for Level A

Level B

  • Tychem 1000 for Level B

Respiratory Protection

  • Interspiro with one-hour bottles
  • For WMD, positive-pressure air purifying respirators (PAPRs) and MSA Millennium canister masks are used.


  • In-suit communications also is provided by Interspiro.

Research Resources

  • Hard Copy Reference Books

Standard Operating Procedures/Guidelines

Check with the City of San Diego Hazmat Team for specific SOP/SOG's.

Hazardous Materials Exposures

Transportation exposures for potential hazmat incidents in the San Diego area include Interstates 5, 8, 15 and 805 and State Route 163. Hazardous materials are also transported out of Mexico (the Mexican border is 16 miles south of San Diego). A U.S. Border Patrol transportation holding area is located just north of the Mexican border in San Diego County, where there is a potential for leaks and spills to occur. The Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad, which has rail yards in San Diego, transports hazardous materials through the city and county. San Diego is a major marine shipping point and hazardous materials go in and out of the port area on boats, trucks and trains. Pipelines and tank farms are another source of hazardous materials exposure in the city and county.

San Diego is home to San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego. These facilities have many research laboratories that pose potential hazmat response dangers. Ordnance and hazardous materials associated with military facilities in the city and county also pose risks.

Commercial installations in the response area store large amounts of chemicals, including propane, chlorine, anhydrous ammonia (associated with many cold-storage facilities related to the vegetable industry), pesticides (agricultural industry), plating shops and clandestine drug labs. Because of San Diego's location, nearly every type of hazardous material could be shipped to or through the area. Hazmat team members must be ready to deal with a diverse group of chemicals.

Currently, San Diego is working to form a Metropolitan Medical Strike Team (MMST) that will include fire, EMS, hazmat and law enforcement personnel. Assistance for WMD incidents is available from the 9th National Guard Civil Support Team, based in Los Alamitos, which is 86 miles away. San Diego's hazmat team is a member of the Joint Hazardous Assessment Team (J-HAT), whose other members include the FBI, Civil Support Team and police SWAT team. J-HAT provides a security assessment of major events taking place in San Diego. J-HAT is under the command of the police department, except when a hazmat incident occurs during an event; then the hazmat team is in command. The J-HAT mission is to assess an event for potential hazards and provide on scene response if a WMD incident, criminal act or hazmat emergency were to occur during an event.

Contact Information:

For additional information or questions, contact: Hazmat Captain on Duty at 858-636-4885; Battalion Chief Melinda Hathaway at mhathaway@sandiego.gov; or the website: www.sandiego.gov/fireandems. Slideshow Images: