California’s northern-most Type 1 Hazmat Team makes its home in Roseville.
While the fire department dates back to 1907, the hazmat team didn’t come into existence until 1995. The department needed the team because the city had the largest rail classification yard on the west coast. Southern Pacific had a number of accidental releases, which highlighted the need for hazmat response capability.
The team covers 44 square miles that extend from the Sacramento County line to Reno to the Oregon border. Not included in that response area are mutual-aid partners.
More than 140,000 people live in their response area. Founded as a railroad town, the population has steadily grown from 29,000 in 1985 to 127,000 in 2014. Roseville has the largest rail classification yard on the west coast. And it was a number of accidental material releases by Southern Pacific railroad (now Union Pacific) that prompted the creation of the hazmat team.
The railroads are still a major employer, but tech companies and other industries have pushed Roseville’s growth.
Each day the team has seven members assigned across an engine and a truck, with a battalion chief who is also certified to the hazmat specialist level. They operate out of one of the city’s eight fire stations.
The team trains monthly and often includes other local departments, Union Pacific, FBI and neighboring hazmat teams. The department runs a six-week hazmat training school and participates in as many regional hazmat drills and exercises as possible.
One of the team’s biggest wins was creating a designated site for all advanced hazmat rail training in California. And like many hazmat teams, they are challenged with updating their equipment with limited funding and grant funds.