Anniston's hazardous materials unit was placed into service for the first time in July of 2004. Prior to that time they had no hazardous materials response capability.Hazardous Materials Team Overview
Under the leadership of Fire Chief Bill Fincher, the Anniston Fire Department has 98 uniformed personnel who operate 5 engine companies, 2 truck companies, 2 medic units, 1 rescue squad/hazardous materials company, and an airport crash truck. In addition to the hazardous materials unit, Anniston Fire Department also maintains an 8' x 20' trailer with absorbent materials, over pack drums, decontamination tent, water heaters and other equipment.
Anniston's hazardous materials unit was placed into service for the first time in July of 2004. Prior to that time they had no hazardous materials response capability. Each engine and truck company carries oil dry material for cleaning up small fuel spills. Larger spills would require the hazmat company response. Anniston worked on establishing a hazardous materials capability for two years. Money for establishing Anniston's Hazardous Materials Team came from a 1.3 million dollar FEMA grant. They are a top rate team for a community of their size and they are the only team covering the 200 miles of Interstate 20 between Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia.
Anniston just recently received delivery of their Pierce 2004 hazardous materials response unit. It is equipped with a light tower, 40 kw generator, air cascade, command post, and four man crew cab. Storage space is available on the top along with the light tower. A built in collapsible stair can be set up to allow access to the top storage and light tower. Compartments have roll-up doors and some are equipped with pull out trays for easy access to equipment such as SCBA's and other equipment. The unit is housed at Fire Station One, located in downtown Anniston at 217 East 17th Street. In addition to the hazmat unit, an Engine 1, a snorkel, light rescue, medic, and brush truck are located at Station 1. The hazmat trailer is located at Fire Station Three along with an engine, 100' aerial ladder truck, and brush truck.
The hazardous materials unit is not staffed full time. When a hazardous materials call is received the fire fighters/hazmat technicians from the other companies in town assemble at the main station where the response force is selected to staff the hazardous materials unit. For an initial hazardous materials call eight firefighters will respond with the hazardous materials unit. For large calls, off duty firefighter/technicians are recalled to duty. Sixty-six of Anniston's ninety-eight firefighters have been trained to the technician level. That number will increase to seventy-five in the near future.
Hazardous materials technicians in Louisville go through a 40 hour technician level training program through the Alabama Fire College. Some technicians have also received Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) technician level training through the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) which is located at the former Fort McClellan Army Base also located in Anniston. Training is also provided on computers, detection equipment, Haz Kat system, and site operations and ICS for officers. On the first Tuesday of each month per shift, in-service training is conducted to keep hazmat skills sharp.
Plans are in the works to cross train police officers on personnel protective equipment (PPE) and decontamination. The fire department will carry and supply level C protection for police officers responding to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) incidents.
Monitoring Instruments & Identification Equipment
- Haz Cat System
- AP 2C
- Rae Systems five gas
- MSA four gas meters
Terrorist Agent ID:
- APD-2000- detects chemical warfare agents, peper spray and mace.
- RAMP System
Personnel Protective Equipment
- Kapler Tychem Responder
- Flash protection
- Tychem encapsulated and non-encapsulated
- MSA 1 hour bottles
- 3M 6000 negative pressure cartridge respirators
- In suit communication is provided by Motorola radios. Radios in use are on the 800 MHz band with ability to talk county wide to all other response agencies.
Research materials on board the hazmat unit include Niosh Pocket Guide, DOT ERG, Emergency Handling of Hazardous Materials in Surface Transportation, NFPA Fire Protection Guide to Hazardous Materials, Chris Manuals, Jane's Chem-Bio Handbook, Dupont permeation Guide, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens. Computer data bases include Oreis, CAMEO, Aloha, and Marplot.
Standard Operating Procedures/Guidelines
Check with Anniston Fire Department Hazmat for specific SOP/SOG's
Hazardous Materials Exposures
Anniston is home to the Anniston Army Depot where nerve agents VX, Sarin (GB) and mustard agents are stored awaiting destruction by the army. The Anniston hazardous materials team is charged with response to off post releases of the agents. Additionally, Anniston has the Norfolk Southern Railroad traveling through town, Interstate 20 to the South, an ice plant with anhydrous ammonia, an industrial park, a gasoline tank farm, propane storage tanks, acids, and a high pressure natural gas transmission pipeline.
Anniston has available an equipment trailer with a decontamination tent, water heaters, and other equipment for mass decontamination. Check with the Anniston Fire Department for information on other WMD equipment.
- Captain David Collins