Nestled in the far southeastern corner of Brazil, is a 71-member volunteer fire-based hazardous materials team. Eldorado do Sul is a suburban town near the city Porto Alegre, both in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul. The municipality home to 42,000 sits near where the Guaiba River empties into Guaiba Lake, which is separated from the South Atlantic Ocean by a peninsula.
And that geography really hits home with the team and the department. It was catastrophic flooding that hit the city that shown a glaring light on the need for a volunteer department with hazmat capabilities.
Eldorado do Sul all-volunteer fire department members are trained to the hazmat operations level covering a mixture of rural and urban areas. The dedicated volunteers train weekly and will train with other departments and teams when possible. The team says they always try to train so that they are always prepared when they are the first in. They firmly believe that initial actions taken correctly in an emergency with hazardous materials is critical success.
Part of what they must train for is hazmat incidents on their major federal highways that lead in and out of the port city Porto Alegre.
While the team is quick to tout their volunteers’ dedication to the department, they do face their challenges. Like many volunteer departments, funding and fundraising activities remains difficult.
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