Back in the day, a major hazmat concern for Ozaukee County, Wisconsin was the Wisconsin Energy dock in Port Washington. Bordered by Lake Michigan to the east, the county’s port saw large daily shipments of coal arriving by barge to burn for electricity generation at the Port Washington generating station.
But in 2004, just two years after the formation of the Ozaukee County Hazardous Materials Response Team, the generating plant switched from coal to natural gas and the industrial functions of the port ended. The move to natural gas brought with it its own product transportation threats.
And like many other Midwestern counties, Ozaukee County has seen a sharp drop in other manufacturing and industrial operations over the past few decades. That’s good for hazmat teams, as it reduces the risks. However, it could be bad for the team if that reduced the tax base and made funding harder to come by.
Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
According to U.S. Census data, more than 75% of the property owners pay more than $3,000 per year in taxes. By comparison just less than 40% of property owners in the U.S. pay $3,000 or more. That goes hand-in-hand with recent surges in county property values. All that bodes well for a hazmat team that depends on public funding to keep its equipment and staffing at needed levels.
This lakefront suburban county Level B hazmat team operates under the county’s Emergency Management Agency, which in turn operates under the county sheriff’s department. The 16-member hazmat team regularly trains with all the fire departments within Ozaukee County as well as those in adjacent counties.
The team’s primary response area is 300 square miles with a population of 89,500. The response team has three trailers and three vehicles: a 1979 Hendrickson rescue truck, a 2003 Chevy Silverado and a 2017 Ford Expedition.