Hazmat Studies: Meet Kentucky's All-Volunteer Somerset/Pulaski County SRT

Somerset is situated in south-central Kentucky on the northeastern edge of Lake Cumberland, 76 miles south of Lexington, 128 miles southeast of Louisville and 129 miles northwest of Knoxville, TN, and is the county seat of Pulaski County. Somerset...

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• Hazmat 2 is a Spartan/Supervac rescue (a reserve apparatus) that carries decontamination equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE); this unit is available to be used by Somerset Fire Department technicians for response to an incident within Pulaski County in the event the Pulaski County SRT is out of the area on a response as Hazmat 12

• Hazmat 3 is an E-ONE Cyclone II rescue that carries all primary hazmat and WMD response equipment, including instrumentation and PPE

• Hazmat 7 is an E-ONE walk-in rescue for decontamination and testing equipment

• Hazmat 4 is an International/Hackney rescue that carries decontamination equipment

• Hazmat 9 is a Ford E350 used for rehab

• Hazmat 1 is a Chevy Suburban command and communications unit equipped for satellite communications

• Kawasaki Mule for entry-team transport downrange

• 16-foot barrel trailer for spills

• 28-foot rehab and mule transport trailer

• 28-foot mass-decontamination shower trailer

• 18-foot equipment trailer

• 24-foot command and rehab trailer

• 4,000-watt light pod for use in nighttime operations

All of the above units are SRT units that also respond as Hazmat 12 in the regional response system. Additionally, two units that are part of Hazmat 12 are stationed in Adair and Boyle counties. They are 2003 Ford F-250s with fully equipped Level A trailers.


Equipment carried

PPE carried by the Somerset SRT includes MSA Nightstalker Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). Other breathing protection is both MSA and Scott cartridge respirators. Level A protective clothing is Dupont Tychem with flashover protection. Level B is also Dupont Tychem suits. Tychem coveralls with attached hoods and boots are available as well. Tingley hazmat boots and Petzl Vertex hardhats round out the protective suit ensemble. In-suit communications is accomplished with two-way radios. Chemical research is primarily conducted using the Internet.

Monitoring instruments carried by the SRT include: First Defender mass spectrometer; Smith Detection Hazmat and Gas ID; Drger manual and auto gas detection kits; HAZMATCAD chemical agent detector; Ludlum survey meter; Sensit gold CGI; HAZCAT chemical identification kit; Golden Engineering portable x-ray machine; and Raytek Raynger ST pro thermal laser.

Hazmat exposures in the SRT response area include the Norfolk Southern Railroad, U.S. Highway 27 and U.S. Highway 80. Fixed-facility hazards are present in chlorine at water treatment plants, propane, pesticides and a plant where large quantities of ammonium nitrate fertilizer are stored. Hazmat 12 is also a backup for the counties involved in the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program for the Blue Grass Arsenal, where military chemical agents are stored. They would cover south and west evacuation routes in the event of a release of chemical agent at the Blue Grass Arsenal.

The Somerset Fire Department responds to fuel spills and odor complaints within the city. Units carry small amounts of absorbent materials and handle spills up to 25 gallons of gasoline and 50 gallons of diesel fuel. The SRT is called in for larger spills. SRT responds to an average of 15 to 20 large-scale hazmat and WMD incidents per year.

Several major incidents have occurred over the past few years. Sodium hydroxide was spilled on U.S. Highway 27 in McCreary County on April 4, 2013 when a tractor-trailer rolled over into the ditch line. Initially, only eight to 10 gallons of sodium hydroxide were spilled. Hazmat crews established a decontamination corridor and ordered 10 truckloads of dirt to build a dike in the event the trailer of sodium hydroxide were to rupture during off loading. This would keep the sodium hydroxide out of nearby streams downhill from the incident. These preparations would prove to be invaluable as the incident progressed.

Around midnight, the damaged tanker ruptured, emptying between 2,800 and 3,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide. Two clean-up workers were covered with the caustic chemical and had to be decontaminated and rushed to a local hospital. They were wearing protective clothing, but sustained facial burns and vision problems. After almost 24 hours on scene, crews completed mitigation of the spill, which included removing contaminated soil and reopening the highway. n