Like Russian nesting dolls, DFS MFA Hazardous Materials Team D4 is part of a much larger team that is also made up of smaller teams. Massachusetts’ Division of Fire Services divided the entire state into six regions and positioned teams so that a team can be on scene anywhere in the state within one hour of dispatch. Those divisions are fed into by local fire department personnel and equipment.
Granted, the state is only 10,565 square miles — only six states have less area. Yet it has major coastlines and dense population areas. In fact, with 6.9 million people, the state is the 15th most populated state in the country. That is a lot of people in a small area — the state has the third highest population density.
The statewide team was originally created to respond to transportation or manufacturing hazmat incidents. The world has changed a lot since 1970 and so too has the hazmat team. They now have six response levels that includes five tiers for suspicious substances, short- and long-term operations, multi-district response and a full six-team response for things like mass contamination or weapons of mass destruction. The first of the six tiers covers joint incident responses, often involving law enforcement. Additionally, the team provides maritime response and fireground air monitoring.
Team D4 specializes in bomb squad response as well as more traditional hazmat incidents. That means Team D4 trains with FBI, CST and various bomb squads. They also coordinate with local businesses to train for special circumstances in varied spaces. In all, Team D4 trains no less than monthly.