In the country’s third largest state with major shipping ports, oil production and railways, hazmat teams don’t have the luxury of just protecting their own backyard.
The South San Joaquin County Fire Authority Type 2 Hazardous Materials Response Team responds to hazmat emergencies both locally and throughout the state of California as one of 12 statewide Type 2 teams.
The team has been established in conjunction with the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) as a part of the Regional Hazardous Materials Response Program.
The Regional Hazardous Materials Response Program was implemented in 2018. CalOES embarked on an effort to increase local emergency response capability in identified gap areas. It assigned 12 new, fully equipped CalOES Type II hazardous materials response vehicles strategically located in rural and metropolitan fire departments.
In addition to an equipped vehicle, some of the team’s training is paid for by CalOES, such as their CSTI courses.
Those agencies entered a contractual agreement with CalOES to staff the hazardous materials response vehicles and respond to hazardous materials emergencies within the state upon request. The South San Joaquin County Fire Authority is one of the 12 assignees, having received HazMat 42 in 2018.
South San Joaquin’s team consists of 26 certified hazardous materials specialists assigned across all shifts of the fire authority. HazMat 42 is located at Station 96. All personnel assigned to Station 96 are members of the Type 2 Hazardous Materials Response Team. Personnel not assigned to the team are trained to the hazardous materials first responder support level.
Locally, the team protects 120,000 residents within the City of Tracy and surrounding unincorporated areas. In addition to being part of the CalOES structure, the department shifted from being a municipal agency — essentially merging the City of Tracy Fire Department with the Tracy Rural Fire Protection District. They were set to make the transition on July 1, 2020; COVID-19 pushed that back to January 1, 2021.