HazMat Team Spotlight: Philadelphia

The City of Philadelphia with a heavy chemical industry presence on its South and East sides, has always taken a proactive approach to hazardous materials response.

The hazmat team members are a close knit group and each has their own "niche" or the things they do best. Some members specialize in research on the computer, while others concentrate on monitoring instruments, and others like to keep the unit stocked and maintained. All shifts work closely together to insure the unit is always ready to respond. Normally in Philadelphia officers are rotated between stations every three years. At the hazardous materials unit, the officers do not rotate and they have a combined experience of over 30 years in hazardous materials response. Most technicians have an average of 3 years experience on the team. The officers and firefighters of Engine 60 and Ladder 19 staff the hazmat team and exhibit a great deal of pride and dedication in their new quarters and equipment. Initial manning includes two officers, 8 firefighters, and Battalion Chief 1 and his Aid, for a total of 12 personnel. Back-up hazardous materials trained firefighters are located at Stations 1, 10, 24, and 49. These personnel fill in at the Hazmat Station when assigned crew members are off and also are available to respond to an incident scene if needed. Firefighters in Philadelphia work two 10 hour days followed by two 14 hour nights and 4 days off.

Training Requirements

All Philadelphia firefighters and medics are trained to the operations level. Philadelphia's hazardous materials team members receive a five level in house training program. The five levels consist of Level I-Understanding Hazmat which is 32 hours, Level II-Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) 16 hours, Level III-Decontamination 8 hours, Level IV-Plugging and Patching 40 hours, and Level V-Monitoring instruments and Meters 16 hours.

Monitoring Instruments & Identification Equipment

Philadelphia uses the "Haz-Cat" system for identifying unknown materials in addition to their on-board computer and reference materials. Other portable monitoring devices for air monitoring and biological and chemical testing are shown below.

Radiological Kits:


  • SensIR Industries, TravelIR
  • Ludlum Radiological Response Kit 2241-3
  • Philadelphia Rad Kit II: Ludlum Model 3 w/ 44-9 Probe and an Eberline RO-2 Ion Chamber
  • Philadelphia RAD Kit I: CDV-700 and CDV-715
  • ThermoElectron: IdentiFinder Na-I
  • MGP: MGP2000 Pager/Dosimeter

Terrorist Agent ID:


  • Rapid Analyte Monitoring Platform (RAMP): Anthrax, BoTox, Ricin & Small Pox
  • HazCat Anthrax Kit
  • M-9 tape, M-8 paper, and M-256 Kits.
  • APD-2000
  • Chemical Agent Monitors (CAM)

Corrosive Gas:


  • pH Paper
  • CL2 & NH3 ToxiMeters (Chlorine & Anhydrous Ammonia)
  • MSA: 5-Star CGI with CL2 & NH3 Sensors



  • Oxidizer Paper
  • MSA:5-Star CGI & MSA Orion

Qualitative Detector Tubes:


  • Drager Colorimetric Tubes

Low Level Detection:


  • Rae Systems: MiniRAE2000 PID
  • Photovac MicroFID
  • ThermoEberline TVA-1000 FID/PID
  • Rae Systems: SentryRAE
  • Rae Systems: AreaRAE

Identification Kits:


  • HazCat Kits
  • Spilfyter: Chemical Classifier Strips
  • Inficon: Hapsite (Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer)

Personnel Protective Equipment

Level A


  • DuPont Tychem Tk
  • Trelleborg: APS & TLU
  • Kapler Tychem Responder
  • DuPont: AcidMater

Level B


  • DuPont: Chemrel, Tychem CPF 3 & Tychem CPF 4

Respiratory Protection


  • Scott Air-Pak 50 w/60 min. bottles (SCBA)
  • (All Level A suits have a fitting to be connected to the Scott Air-Pak to a supplied air system.


Motorola 800 mhz Portable Radio: XTS 300R with the Mask Mounted Envoy System for a hands free operation.

Standard Operating Procedures/Guidelines

Check with Philadelphia Hazmat for specific SOP/SOG's

Hazardous Materials Exposures

Most of Philadelphia's hazardous materials facilities are located on the south and east sides and consist of large refineries, chemical plants, and transportation routes. These facilities include Ashland Chemical, Sun Oil Company, Allied Chemical and Rhom & Hass. Port facilities are also present where super tankers are loaded and unloaded as well as smaller intermodal containers from ships. Many of these intermodals contain hazardous materials and are transferred from the ships to trucks and rail flat cars for transportation to other parts of the country. Several major highways pass through Philadelphia including Interstate highways 76 and 95 and U.S. Highways 1 and 13. Conrail and CSX are the major railroads that serve the city and routes pass through the North, South and Central portions of Philadelphia. Two major rivers also border Philadelphia, on the East the Delaware, and on the South the Schuylkill. Many of the hazardous materials transported through the city travel the river to or from the many chemical facilities located on the rivers banks. Dangerous chemicals located in and transported through Philadelphia include sulfuric acid, ammonia, formaldehyde, ethylene oxide (which is an ether), propane, benzene, hydrochloric acid, chlorine, and a wide variety of petroleum products are manufactured, stored, and shipped through the city.

Terrorism Response