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    Default What should I expect in Hazmat Operational and Tech classes?

    I'm about to start the Tarrant County Fire Academy this summer in Fort Worth, TX. While looking over the fire academy curriculum, the section on Operational Level Hazmat caught my interest. My old EMT-B book has a very small chapter that glances over Introduction to Hazmat, but it really didn't go into much detail.

    Once completing fire academy, I was told that I will be Operational-Level Hazmat Certified. About two weeks after graduating from the fire academy, there is a Hazmat Tech course starting.

    Can anyone with Hazmat experience give me some feedback on what to expect in both Hazmat Operational and Tech classes? I would like to get a feel on what the classes consist of (besides the general course overviews) because I find the whole aspect of Hazmat interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pewter98 View Post
    I'm about to start the Tarrant County Fire Academy this summer in Fort Worth, TX. While looking over the fire academy curriculum, the section on Operational Level Hazmat caught my interest. My old EMT-B book has a very small chapter that glances over Introduction to Hazmat, but it really didn't go into much detail.

    Once completing fire academy, I was told that I will be Operational-Level Hazmat Certified. About two weeks after graduating from the fire academy, there is a Hazmat Tech course starting.

    Can anyone with Hazmat experience give me some feedback on what to expect in both Hazmat Operational and Tech classes? I would like to get a feel on what the classes consist of (besides the general course overviews) because I find the whole aspect of Hazmat interesting.
    Awareness, Ops, and Tech are all very basic and boring. I'm a tech, and not being at a HazMat company, I still feel like I don't really know how to be a tech. I learned a lot, but not enough to feel like I've got a good grip on it. It's just like a lot of things- you learn the basics in class, and the rest in the field. I'm not at a HazMat company, so I don't really get to learn the rest.

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    I agree with footrat. The Haz Mat Technician class (generally about 40 hours around here, your mileage may vary) is just enough to get your feet wet. If you learn one thing, it's that you still have a lot to learn.

    HazMat Operations level is generally sufficient for a firefighter who will be on a truck or engine company who may be expected to function on a hazardous materials scene. HazMat Ops folks can engage in some defensive tactics, like spill containment, vapor suppression, etc. But HazMat Tech requires some more in-depth training, and just as importantly, lots of specialized equipment. Therefore, an average engine company really wouldn't be expected to function at the Tech level.

    Even having completed the Tech level class, there's still a lot to know. I'm a HazMat Technician and even after about 10 years of continuing education, I'm still fuzzy in a lot of areas. It helps that I'm in industry, rather than the public sector, because I have access to a lot of technical expertise and assistance that the average fire department HazMat team may not. But it can also be a detriment because I get exposed to a narrower range of products and situations, and less frequently, than my public-sector counterparts.

    As far as what to expect from the classes, expect a lot more hands-on in the Tech class. Operations is a lot of general knowledge, a few hands on exercises like decontamination and spill containment, but the Technician class will get you more time in SCBA, Level A suit, applying plugs and patches, stuff like that. But unfortunately, unless you are actually assigned to a HazMat company, you may never use these skills again. And if you ARE assigned to a HazMat company, you'll need way more follow-up training after the basic Technician class. Good luck!
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Thanks for the feedback guys! There's a few departments in my area (mostly in the private sector) in which a Hazmat Tech cert. is one of the minimum qualifications to be considered for hiring. Since the Tech course starts just 2 1/2 weeks after fire academy is over, I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and take the course and get my Tech cert. I figure that already having the Hazmat Tech cert. on my resume would look good when I go through the hiring process with my big city department. It would show my interest in Hazmat, that I was willing to get the HAzmat Tech cert. on my own and not having their department pay for it.

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