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HazMat Team Spotlight: Louisville

Under the leadership of Fire Chief Greg Frederick, the Louisville Fire Department has 616 uniformed personnel who operate 18 engine companies, 10 truck companies, 14 medic units, 3 hazardous materials companies, and 2 technical rescue companies.

Hazardous Materials Team Overview


Under the leadership of Fire Chief Greg Frederick, the Louisville Fire Department has 616 uniformed personnel who operate 18 engine companies, 10 truck companies, 14 medic units, 3 hazardous materials companies, and 2 technical rescue companies which provide Swift Water Rescue, Dive Rescue, Rope Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, Trench Rescue, and Structural Collapse Rescue. Louisville does not have paramedic engine companies, however, there are some firefighter/paramedics assigned to selected suppression companies.

Louisville's fire department hazardous materials units respond to an average of 102 hazardous materials incidents each year. Incidents are calculated on a per call basis and some incidents involved multiple hazmat company response. Statistics for hazmat responses within Louisville do not include local engine runs for hydrocarbon fuel spills. Each engine carries approximately 5 pounds of Hazorb material for cleaning up small fuel spills with out calling a hazmat company. Larger spills would require a hazmat company response.

All three hazardous materials companies are equipped with matching 2002 Seagrave Pumpers with on board foam storage and foam pumping capabilities. Each of the three hazmat engines has 25 gallons of Class A and 300 gallons of Class B foam in on board tanks. Two hazmat vans, one a 1989 GMC modified with roll up compartment doors and command area and the second a 1995 Grumman with roll up compartment doors and a command area carry the hazardous materials equipment. The Second District House is home to Engine/Hazmat 5, Decontamination Unit 2, Car 52, Medic 5, and Truck 2 and is located at 235 E. Jefferson Street in downtown Louisville. Engine/Hazmat 12 is located 4535 Manslick Road. Engine/Hazmat 1 is located at 1100 Grade Lane.


Two of Louisville's hazmat companies run with 4 personnel and the third with 5. A decontamination unit is staffed with 4 personnel. All hazmat and decontamination companies operate as suppression companies as well and respond to hazmat calls as needed. Truck companies have operations level trained personnel that assist with decontamination operations.

Training Requirements

Hazardous materials technicians in Louisville go through the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 40 hour training program. Technicians have also received Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) technician level training. Specialized decontamination training has been provided for truck companies. In-service training is conducted quarterly to keep hazmat skills sharp.


  • 4 AREA Rae Detectors with software and Computer, with PID for VOC detection, an LEL meter, and 02 sensor, as well as chlorine and ammonia detectors. The units are wireless and GPS enabled.
  • 4 Biosystems PhD Ultra detectors

    Monitoring Instruments & Identification Equipment

    Radiological Kits:

  • 290 Victoreen Gieger Mueler Counter
  • Terrorist Agent ID:
  • APD-2000- detects chemical warfare agents, peeper spray and mace.

    Corrosive Gas:

  • pH Paper
  • Oxygen/Flammability:
  • Phd Biosystem, monitors for oxygen, carbon monoxide, LEL, and hydrogen sulfide
  • MultiRAE Plus combines a PID (Photoionization Detector) with the standard four gases of a confined space monitor (O2, LEL, and two toxic gas sensors) in one compact monitor with sampling pump.

    Qualitative Detector Tubes:

  • Draeger tubes

    Personnel Protective Equipment

  • Level A
    Kapler Tychem Responder
    Flash protection
  • Level B Tyvec

    Respiratory Protection

  • Scott 30 minute Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for suppression companies and 60 minute bottles for the hazardous materials companies.


  • In suit communication is provided by Scott's voice communications, part of the Scott 60 minute SCBA's used by the hazmat team.

    Research Resources

  • CAMEO (Computer Aided Management of Emergency Operations) and various other hard copy reference books are available in the command section of the hazardous materials units.

    Standard Operating Procedures/Guidelines

  • Check with Louisville Hazmat for specific SOP/SOG's

Hazardous Materials Exposures

Transportation exposures include interstate highways, railroad, pipelines, and barges on the water. Louisville's bounded by Interstate highways 64, 65, and 71 which all pass through the center of the city. The Norfolk and Southern Railroad has a major hub in Louisville. Barge traffic passes the city on the North side on the Ohio River. Fixed facilities in Louisville include the United Parcel Service (UPS) Center, refineries, chemical companies such as Dupont and Rohm & Hass, the Navel Ordinance Facility and others. Known hazardous materials in the city include cyanide, plastics, petroleum products, Oleum (fuming sulfuric acid), paint, varnish, anhydrous ammonia, and liquid hydrogen.

Louisville has available a mass decontamination trailer with two tents, water heater, generator, and built in showers. They also have a negative pressure fan for the tent to keep vapors and other materials out of the tent during decontamination. Check with Louisville for information on other WMD equipment.

Contact Information
For additional information or questions, contact:


Captain Tony Cipolla
Special Units Coordinator
502-574-2925 or 502-574-3078

Robert Burke, a Firehouse? contributing editor, is the fire marshal for the University of Maryland. 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 a veteran of 24 years in fire and emergency services, with experience in career and volunteer departments. He has attained the rank of lieutenant, assistant chief and deputy state fire marshal. 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 reached in the Internet at