HazMat Team Spotlight: Lincoln Nebraska

Dec. 7, 2004
Under the leadership of Fire Chief Mike Spadt, the Lincoln Fire Department has 266 uniformed personnel

Lincoln is the Capital of the State of Nebraska and home to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln the flagship school of the University of Nebraska System.

Under the leadership of Fire Chief Mike Spadt, the Lincoln Fire Department has 266 uniformed personnel who operate 14 engine companies, 4 truck companies, 5 medic units, Air Cascade 14, and 1 hazardous materials company from 14 stations with several new stations in the planning stage. Paramedics are assigned to each engine company.

Lincoln Fire & Rescue responded to 547 hazardous materials incidents in 2003. So far during 2004 they have responded to 393 hazardous materials incidents.

In addition to the hazardous materials unit, the Lincoln Fire Department also maintains a decontamination trailer and several decontamination equipment trailers for use at local hospitals for decontamination or used in areas where more mobility is required.

No more tears baby shampoo is used in the shower system in the trailer because it is a very mild soap. The decontamination trailer is kept at the Headquarters Station at 1801 Q Street. In addition to hazmat and terrorism response the large decontamination trailer is used for rehab at incidents where needed. Equipment trailers would be transported and operated by mutual aid companies from rural departments surrounding Lincoln.

Lincoln fire provides training for hospital personnel and rural firefighters for conducting decontamination using the trailers. Lincoln is also home to Urban Search and Rescue Nebraska Task Force 1 (USAR-TF1). Hazardous materials technicians on the USAR Team do not normally respond to hazmat calls in the city, but are available as resources if needed.

Components of Nebraska Task Force 1 have responded to the following emergencies since 1993: Hurricane Emily, 1993 - Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995 - Hurricane Opal, 1995 - Hurricane Bertha, 1996 - Atlanta Olympics, 1996 - San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1996 - DeBruce Grain, 1998 - Oklahoma Tornado's, 1999 - Pentagon, 2001 - World Trade Centers, 2001 - Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, 2002 - Space Shuttle Columbia, 2003.

Each engine company carries 2-3 bags of absorbent materials for cleaning up small fuel spills and a patching kit for gasoline leaks at auto accidents. Larger spills would require the hazmat company response with 200 additional pounds of absorbent on the unit and an additional 500 pounds at the station.


Lincoln's hazardous materials unit is located at Station 14, 1435 NW 1st Street. The unit is a 1996 E-One with a command center in the crew cab. Decontamination equipment is stored in compartments on the driver's side. The passenger side has all of the dress out equipment. A binder has been compiled with information regarding team members PPE sizes. Compatibility glove and PPE charts are kept with the dress out kit. Each vehicle compartment has a listing of equipment posted on the inside of the compartment door. Additional apparatus at Station 14 includes Engine 14 and Air Cascade 14. Station 14 is approximately 9 years old and features private bedrooms for all on duty firefighters. It is also home to a police sub-station, community room, exercise area and the fire department training division offices. Lincoln apparatus has a two color emergency light system utilizing red on one side and blue on the other. In Nebraska all emergency vehicles including police, fire, and EMS use the red/blue system.

Hazardous Materials Equipment

Decontamination supplies and equipment, monitoring instruments, PPE, Ton and Cylinder Chlorine Kits (railroad has tank car kit), lap top computer, video and digital camera, empty gas cans for product transfer along with other miscellaneous items. They have also modified folding chairs without backs to allow for easier dress out with SCBA. Within Station 14 each firefighter on all shifts has their own dress out bag with equipment for dress out, including hazmat gloves, boots, Tyvec suits with booties, long underwear, a change of cloths, towel, respirator adaptor and cartridges, gloves and dust masks.


The hazardous materials unit is not staffed full time. When a hazardous materials call is received the fire fighters from Engine 14 staff the hazardous materials unit and the engine is placed out of service. All firefighters at Station 14 are hazardous materials technicians. In addition, firefighters at Station 2 located at 33rd and Holdridge Street and Station 9 at Cotner & Vine Streets are also hazmat technicians. Station 14 generally has 5 personnel on duty and Stations 2 & 9 have 4 each for a total of 13 hazmat personnel on duty each shift.

Training Requirements

Hazardous materials technicians in Lincoln go through a 40 hour technician level training program. 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, Alabama, the railroad training school at Pueblo Colorado, the Department of Energy site in Nevada, and the EPA training programs. Eight hour quarterly drills are conducted to keep skills sharp.

Monitoring Instruments & Identification Equipment

Truck companies carry MSA Passports and CO monitors. The Health Department has a Mass Spectrometer for chemical analysis that they can bring to an incident scene.

  • MSA 4-gas
  • PIDs
  • pH paper
  • RAE System

Terrorist Agent ID:

  • RAD (radiation detection backpack
  • APD-2000 (2) - detects chemical warfare agents, pepper spray and mace.
  • Guardian BTA (Bio Agents)
  • Draeger CMS
  • Ludlum
  • RAD Alert
  • M 256 A Kits
  • M 8-9 Papers
  • CDV-777

Personnel Protective Equipment

Level A

  • Kapler Tychem Responder

Level B

  • Kapler Tychem encapsulated and non-encapsulated

Tyvec sleeves have been provided for use in protecting turnouts when working at fuel spills. They are disposed of following use.

Respiratory Protection

  • MSA 1 hour bottles (carried on Air 14)
  • MSA negative pressure cartridge respirators
  • MSA PAPR's


  • In suit communication is provided by GE Throat mike. (Skull mikes are on order) Radios in use are Macom P7100 and are on the 800 MHz band. Hand signals are posted inside the door of the dress out compartment of the hazmat unit.

Research Resources

Research materials on board the hazmat unit include Niosh Pocket Guide, DOT ERG, Emergency Handling of Hazardous Materials in Surface Transportation, EPA Meth Lab Book, SAC's Manual, Merck Index, Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Farm Chemical Handbook, Chris Manuals, and the CAMEO computer program. They have also prepared a binder with a listing of all local contacts and contact information.

Standard Operating Procedures/Guidelines

Check with Lincoln Fire Department Hazmat for specific SOP/SOG's.

Hazardous Materials Exposures

Diesel spills and natural gas leaks make up a large number of hazardous materials responses. Interstate 80, a major East West transportation route runs through Lincoln as well as U.S. Highways 6, 34, and 77. The Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad also runs through Lincoln and has a rail yard on the West end of the city. Lincoln also has several major trucking company terminals. Several grain elevators are located in Lincoln with farm chemicals, anhydrous ammonia and propane plants associated with the agricultural industry in the State of Nebraska. Several bulk petroleum tanks are located in the Lincoln response area. Plating companies use cyanide, acids, and caustic materials. Chlorine is stored and used at water treatment plants and public swimming pools. Goodyear has a belt and hose plant in East Lincoln with various hazardous materials.

Terrorism Response

Lincoln has available a decontamination trailer, and several smaller trailers with a decontamination tent, water heaters, and other equipment for mass decontamination. The only thing needed to support the tent decontamination is a generator and water supply. Tents are equipped with lighting, a heater, and sump pump as well as a rack for rolling non-ambulatory patients through on backboards. Police sometimes use the tents for crime scene investigations during inclement weather. The inspection division has a robot available for explosives, terrorist agent, and hazardous materials incidents. Check with the Lincoln Fire Department for information on other WMD equipment.

Contact Information

I want to thank Shift A Captain Steve Dolezal, Firefighter/Driver Mike Kolb, Firefighter/Paramedic Shawn Durbin, and Firefighter Shane Cuttlers, along with Chief Mike Spadt, Deputy Chief Bruce Sellon, and Training Chief Danny Wright for all their assistance during my visit to Lincoln. Thanks also to Station 14 for a great lunch!

For additional information or questions, contact:

Deputy Chief Bruce Sellon
Lincoln Fire & Rescue
901 North Cotner Blvd.
Lincoln, NE 68505
[email protected]

Captain Steve Dolezal
Fire Station 14
5435 N.W. 1st Street
Lincoln, NE 68521
[email protected]


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Oct. 28, 2015

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