Hazardous Materials Responses
Hazardous materials are as a result of accidents and most of the times cause injuries to the victim who comes into contact with them. Firefighters are mostly trained on how to control hazardous materials and how to best handle them to minimize injury and risks. Hazardous materials include poisons, flammable liquids, corrosive substances, infectious materials, flammable gases, and explosives. Hazardous material response demands awareness on the response methods so that risk is reduced and safety of the society achieved. In addition, the environment is also considered in the response methods to ensure environment conservation (Cutter, 1996). All people who own premises which contain hazardous materials are always required to plan and manage themselves well to be prepared enough in case of an incident which is hazardous. Fire code 1.7.5 requires that for authority can be delegated to only the qualified administrators who will have the power to enforce this code (National Fire Protection Association, 2015).
Standard operating guidelines require all owners of premises keeping hazardous materials to have inventories for all dangerous products available and create awareness to any new person who visits the premises (Westhuizen, 2011). In addition, they are required to document all potential occurrences due to the storage of these hazardous materials. In the case of spillage, a warning should be immediately disseminated for people to evacuate the building and be safe from all risks possible. This response needed to be taken with seriousness and executed immediately there is a hazardous event taking place. The hazardous event should not be ignored at any time as it may cause more disaster to all people around the affected premises.
Hazardous material responses are in various forms based on the guidelines one is following or how they react based on the knowledge they have. Emergency responders usually show a different reaction when an incident occurs (Peterson, 2000). There are those who follow what standard operating guidelines requires them to while others simply react out of their knowledge or experience. When an emergency occurs, a big decision needs to be made by the responder so that they may be safe and secure from any injuries that may come forth. In this case, standard procedures help one to find it easier to maneuver in case of any accident and come out safe. Standard operating guidelines cover Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the usage of Structural Firefighting Protective Clothing (SFPC).
Firefighters need to have the knowledge of hazardous material response because they are prone to accidents as they rescue people from fire scenes. Verified hazardous material response requires more labor and resources for one to cope with all incidents that may come their way. This affects most people who are not able to understand the guidelines applied while responding to incidents. They end up being affected both physically and mentally. This has been witnessed in many areas around the world.
Specialized teams such as firefighters find themselves prone to risks when expert response delays. For instance, when a fire strikes a building, firefighters are immediately contacted to come into rescue immediately. Upon receiving this type of call, they gather all their mitigation tools as fast as possible and head to the scene where they offer rescue services to the building and the victims of fire (Marinucci, 2016). All this requires an immediate response because if any delay is experienced, firefighters are likely to find the building already burnt and more victims injured and others dead. The scene continues to be riskier, and as they struggle to save victims of injury, they also get injured, and this is a risk exposed to them.
The importance of standard guideline procedures for hazardous materials is to provide strategies to hazardous material response team through which they can use in case of an emergency. These strategies are usually pre-planned, and when a hazard occurs, they are well trained, and each one of them specialized for specific tasks which are directed towards mitigation of the risks a hazardous material can bring forth. For instance, when a truck full of flammable liquid overturns, hazardous material response team come forth when well-dressed to protect them and start applying all strategies taught to them to delegate safety of off-loading operations of the truck.
This procedure is carried out with seriousness, and at the end of the day, the response team is able to save nearby people and property from damage as well as conserve the environment by preventing its pollution by the flammable liquid which is hazardous (Fiksel, &Fiksel1996). These procedures also explain all guidelines hazardous material response team need to follow in case of emergencies which require special events deployment. They are also trained to observe an emergency scene and design all possible strategies to bring everything under control and save more time while saving people and property.
In addition, the purpose of standard operation guidelines requires building construction to follow specific fire codes such as 1.3.6 Buildings which requires that new buildings should be constructed to adhere to the specification of this code. Another code is 188.8.131.52* and 184.108.40.206 which govern all activities directed to the maintenance of buildings after they have been built following the provisions of the previous codes(National Fire Protection Association, 2015). Maintenance will involve renovations, repairs, reconstruction, and alterations.
This plan applies to all firefighters as well as any Mutual Aid Fire Service Agents. All officers and members of all fire departments are also expected to have well training on the standard operating procedures. All the information concerning standard guidelines for hazardous material response is relevant to them, and it is required that they acquire accurate training of how to deal with hazardous materials which cause incidents.
Steps required for initial hazardous material responses
Standard operating guidelines may offer quantitative information which might be difficult for small departments to understand well or capture the most important strategies for rescue. To solve this, there are steps required for initial hazardous material responses. These steps can be first adopted to secure and mitigate risks associated with an accident. One of the steps is isolation which involves restrictions of the affected area. It can be achieved through coordination from the authority together with public works (Spell, 2014).
The second step is to control access to the affected area. This is done through command and communication. It involves a description of the disaster scene and all hazardous materials around it. This information helps determine the products easily and know how to handle them better. In this case, application of fire code 1.7.12 Plans and Specifications is highly needed as it requires that all standards are followed to the latter and compliance to the requirements of the code achieved(National Fire Protection Association, 2015).
The next important aspect is to share this information with the authorities in charge to activate all available and required resources. This will cater for their arrival to execute rescue and offer relief services such as the provision of food, clean water and immediate medical attention to any victims of injury. All operation channels are notified and action taken immediately. This entire process allows for initial response authority to take charge which is part of the standard operation guideline. While near the scene, another response involves staying on the lookout to find out how the scene looks like and how events are turning out. For instance, one should look to see how many more people seem to be in danger so that they may communicate this information back to the authority who will hasten things. If it is a fire hazard, one should act as the eyes and ears of the accident scene for more help to be delivered.
Mitigation, in this case, will require more resources and support to bring about a significant change. As a responder, a firefighter is required to have received proper training which qualifies him/her to be part of the hazardous material response team. In this way, one is able to enter the fire scene and save more lives of people while they evade possible injuries and property. Protection is also part of the requirements and a firefighter needs to be well dressed in clothes whose material is fire resistant, and this can prevent them from falling victims of fire injuries.
The next step involves an exception to the rule. Standard operation guidelines require one to put on a hazardous material related gear as well as carry along all the training one has received. With these two, one is more safe and protected to continue being in the scene environments and save more people. The gear provides one with personal protection and this reduces the number of injured victims as the members of the rescue team cannot be injured while on the scene. One also requires more materials such as latex gloves, duct tape, bunker boots plus SCBA. All these add on to the protection of the firefighter. These materials also help one to attend to the victims of fire after they have been evacuated from the place of fire.
In addition, the rescue team needs to direct civilians towards their emergency space set-up to help create a place of patient isolation for them to receive relief services. This includes the provision of clothing, food, clean water and emergency services as well. Medical attention also needs to be immediately delivered to secure the extent in which victims are injured and attend to their wounds as quickly as possible (Kirk et al., 1994). Communication also needs to be done for easier coordination of the civilians and the injured.
Levels of Hazardous Materials Response
Hazardous material response levels are divided into three teams based on their level of equipment and resources, expertise, and training.
- The first category is the Type Three Hazardous Material Response Team. This team is trained to handle all categories of chemicals in industries with hazardous materials. For example, they have expertise in handling chemical hazards in solid, liquid, powder, and aerosol forms. However, their training and expertise limit them from handling vapor or gas incidents which involve CBRNE (Shawn, 2011).
- The second classification is the Type Two Hazardous Material Response Team. This team incorporates all requirements of the above category and is able to handle vapor or gas incidents (Cruz&Krausmann, 2009). Their only limitation lies within incidents which involve CBRNE.
- Lastly is the Type One Hazardous Material Response Team. This incorporates all requirements for Type Two and Type Three. In addition, they are trained to handle all incidents which involve chemicals with CBRNE agents. They are mostly found in cities where they are placed strategically to solve any CBRNE related terrorist strikes(Shawn, 2011).
Levels of hazardous materials responders
Standard operation guidelines state that there are four levels of responders for all CBRNE, chemical, radiological and biological related incidents. These levels include awareness, operations, technician and specialist levels.
- Awareness level is meant for the first people who in the case of an emergency could access the scene easily. Standard operation guidelines state that responders should be aware of the presence of hazardous materials on the scene and be able to prevent themselves from being injured. In this level, authority needs to be called immediately to offer trained services and secure the scene of an emergency. One can acquire the awareness certificate from online as they study and take exams concerning the same. With this certificate, one can easily respond to hazardous materials.
- Operations level involves responders who respond to the release of any hazardous materials to protect people, environment, and the surrounding property as well. First responders are advised to stay at a distance away from the scene and control the continued release of the hazardous material to reduce risks. These responders are more trained than awareness responders, and therefore they are expected to offer more defensive services to the scene of emergency because they can be handier with the situation.
These responders can easily evacuate people from the scene and create hazard zones that are cold, warm and hot. They act as the guidance to people who do not have hazardous material training, and this makes work easier. They have skills like retention, diking, damming, vapor dispersion, absorption, and suppression of vapor. They also demonstrate decontamination procedures at the scene of an emergency. They also have the ability to weigh the possible threat against the possibility of saving a victim from dying and apply the one which has more weight. They are expected to mitigate risks as much as possible without getting into the hot zones of the scene. To acquire an operations level certificate, one is required to attend an eight-hour physical training which cannot by any means be delivered online. Examples of operations level responders are environmental and conservation personnel, firefighters and public and private sector personnel.
- The third category is the technician level. This level involves responders who are highly specialized in controlling any release of a hazardous material. They use protective clothing which is chemical specialized to resist its effects. Their training depends on the intensity of the hazardous material, and this shows that some of them may be more trained and skilled than the rest. To attain a technician level certificate, one is required to attend a 40-hour training which is physically delivered. These technicians are well trained on basic chemistry which allows them to interact better with the chemical related hazardous materials. Other science related training are in biology and nuclear physics (Nel et al. 2006). It is also a requirement for all technicians to have succeeded in their college level with a good grasp of chemistry and its advancements.
- The last category is that of the specialist level. It is considered the highest level of training of hazardous material respondents. They are well vast with knowledge of chemistry, biology and any other science related subject. While at an emergency scene, specialist responders can assist technician responders to control the scene and its possible risk outcomes. They are good at giving instructions which are important to the other responders who are within the incident scene. They work hand in hand with Emergency Response Team and the Department of Environmental Protection (Perry &Lindell, 2003). Hence, they are mostly termed as the most experienced and knowledgeable regarding technological and science related information. This is an advantage that helps them relate well to all hazardous materials as well as CBRNE. To become a specialist, one is expected to attend 24-hour training and own a bachelor’s degree. If one has a master’s degree, the better they are fit for the job.
In conclusion, standard operation guidelines require a hazardous material response to have a well set of response strategies which need to be applied in the best and quickest way possible. If these strategies are followed to the latter, initial first responder experiences with hazardous materials is easily achieved, and safety made successfully. Fire codes are also important as they listed out in the standard operation guidelines for responders to follow. For example, 1.10 Fire Code Board of Appeals states that a board of appeal will be established to solve and rule over all issues regarding fire code enforcement(National Fire Protection Association, 2015). Hence, all responders need to learn and acquire the best training of how to deal with fire hazards and chemically hazardous materials.
Proper risk mitigation will be achieved if there is coordination between all professionals available, for example, technicians and specialists need to work together for best results. Also, it is crucial that all professional are well trained and have adequate knowledge of how to respond to hazardous materials without being injured. Provision of rescue services is also inclusive and immediate medical attention to all victims of injury. The environment should also be conserved and the pollution extent of these hazardous materials reduced to the possible minimum level. Lastly, initial responders need to learn all steps of responding to an emergency in case it happens.
Cruz, A. M., &Krausmann, E. (2009). “Hazardous-materials releases from offshore oil and gas facilities and emergency response following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.” Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 22(1). 59-65
Cutter, S.L (1996).“Vulnerability to environmental hazards.”Progress in Human Geography, 20(4), 529-539
Fiksel, J., &Fiksel, J.R. (1996). “Design for Environment: Creating eco-efficient products and processes.” McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing.
Kirk, M. A., Cisek, J., & Rose, S. R. (1994).“Emergency Department Response to Hazardous Materials Incidents.”Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America, 12(2), 461-482
Marinucci, R. (2016). “The Challenges of Hazmat Responses.”Fire Apparatus and Emergency Equipment.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).(2015) “Fire Code 2015 Edition.”An International Codes and Standards Organization. Batterymarch Park.
Nel, A., Xia, T., Madler, L., & Li, N. (2006).“Toxic potential of materials at the nano level.Science, 311(5761), 622-627
Perry, R. W., &Lindell, M. K. (2003). “Preparedness for emergency response: Guidelines for the emergency planning process.” Disasters 27 (4), 336-350
Peterson, D. F. (2000). “Hazardous-Materials Response: Know Your Limitations.” Fire Engineering.
Shawn. (2011). “The Different Levels of Hazardous Materials Response.”My Fire Fighter Nation. Retrieved from www.my.firefighternation.com/m/blogpost?id=889755%3ABlogPost%3A5935062
Spell, J. (2014). “9 Steps to Safer Initial Hazmat Response.”Fire Rescue.
Westhuizen, H. (2011). “S.O.P: Hazmat/CBR-Response and Deployment Guidelines.” Fire and Rescue Service.