Nestled between Miami and Fort Lauderdale is the city of Hollywood, Fla. The city, and it’s fire department, started off small. But that has all changed.
Hollywood Fire Rescue was formed in 1924 with 19 men and two pieces of fire apparatus. Twenty years later, at the end of World War II, the city’s population hovered around 6,000. Since then, it has grown to its present size of almost 300 personnel, including 213 sworn firefighters, 40 full-time civilians, 30 part-time lifeguards and 19 pieces of fire apparatus.
Firefighters and equipment are placed in six fire stations, which will respond to nearly 28,000 alarms per year. Located in the Miami metropolitan area, Hollywood had a population of 153,000 in the 2020 census and covers 3 square miles.
In 1985, the department formed its hazmat team and located it in Station 31. In addition to hazmat, Station 31 handles technical, rope and trench rescue as well as vehicle extrication. Most of the 50-member team is trained to both hazmat and tech rescue specialist level.
To keep sharp, the team trains on every shift. Twice each month, they train with the four other regional teams in Broward County. Station 31 provides mutual aid to the entire county. Hollywood Fire Rescue’s training facility is staffed by one battalion chief and two training officers, who oversee the fire, EMS and hazmat training.
Broward County has nearly 2 million residents spread across 1,322 square miles that includes 31 municipalities plus several unincorporated areas. And that is about double the county’s population in 1985 when the hazmat team got its start.