The Howard County Fire Department (HCFD) is responsible for a variety of tasks, including fire investigations, code application and inspections, plan reviews, and the development of codes and hazardous materials. On average, Hazmat 1 responds to 400 incidents involving hazardous materials each year. In addition, first-arriving equipment, truck companies, and other engines respond to an average of 2500 incidents annually that involve fuel spills, gas leaks, odor investigations, and carbon monoxide alarms. These vehicles are equipped with absorbent materials and truck companies are able to manage fuel spills of up to 50 gallons.
However, they have the option of calling Hazmat 1 for additional resources if needed. If a spill enters the sewer system, Hazmat 1 is automatically called. Trucking companies and crews are also equipped with five gas meters and photoionization (PID) detectors. All companies have radiation meters and all firefighters are trained to achieve a minimum level of operations.
The situation was further complicated when a 40-inch main pipe broke on Howard Street, above the fire. To ensure that firefighters are prepared for such incidents, some receive additional training at the TTCI Emergency Response Training Center in Pueblo, Colorado, the Nevada Test Center Radiation School near Las Vegas, ADM training at the Anniston, Alabama Home Preparedness Center in Anniston, Alabama, and incident command courses at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The Baltimore City Fire Department's hazardous materials team was formed in 1985 under the direction of the now retired Battalion Chief C. The amount of hazardous materials being used, stored, or handled in Howard County continues to increase along with the number of emergency responses to facilities that use such substances.
As a result, the Howard County Fire Department is prepared to respond to an average of 400 hazardous materials incidents each year.