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HazMat Profile
Published:  01 January, 2007

NEW SOUTH WALES FIRE BRIGADE: The NSW Fire Brigade has three specialist Hazardous Materials Response Units operating from Sydney (Greenacre), Newcastle and Shellharbour. They have advanced capabilities in detection of toxic industrial chemicals, volatile substances and chemical warfare agents.

Intermediate hazardous materials response is delivered by 14 strategically located units, including six with a waterways response capability. Each unit is equipped with detection equipment and has the capability to access chemical databases with information on chemical, biological, radiological and toxic industrial chemical substances.
Mass Decontamination Unit:
Commissioner Greg Mullins tells F&R: “The NSWFB has two multi-lane mass decontamination units based on an external frame tent.
This unit is supplied in three segments which erect in less than six minutes that can provide initial or technical decontamination of walking or non-ambulatory casualties and/ or agency personnel. The tent is self-contained, highly portable and designed to be self-sufficient to operate continuously for up to five hours. The water supply can be from a static or reticulated source. All wastewater is contained for analysis, treatment and subsequent disposal.”
These tents are located in the two largest cities in NSW, Sydney and Newcastle. The three trailer-mounted units are selfcontained mobile shower systems used for the decontamination of victims or fire officers at hazardous materials (HazMat) and chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) incidents.
Each modular trailer is divided into two lanes with separated undressing, shower and dressing cubicles complete with chutes for disposal of contaminated clothing to outside bins. Capable of processing 25 persons an hour, the system incorporates a variable timed shower (actuated by a wall-mounted button set for 0-3 minutes) which features set temperature and direct injection of soap or decontamination solutions.
Carried by the 25 primary and intermediate Hazmat units throughout the State, the freestanding showers connect to 38mm lay-flat fire hose and can be operated in the field to decontaminate fire officers or members of the public. “The NSW Fire Brigades contingency for first responders to provide mass decontamination at incidents includes utilising hand-held hose lines or the positioning of two parallel fire engines with a ladder stretched across from topto- top where a length or lengths of 38mm hose is secured with a spray branch directed onto the space below. This provides an improvised mass decontamination corridor following an accidental or deliberate release in a crowded or heavily populated public area,” Commissioner Mullins reports.
Boosted capability:
“The NSWFB has an advanced gas detection capability for industrial chemicals to support firefighting and Hazmat operations. Since September 11, 2001 the world’s focus on terrorism has seen many of these valuable pieces of equipment adapted for consequence management of any hostile act upon civilians.
Recent enhancements have significantly boosted the capability of Hazardous Materials units and fire stations throughout the NSWFB to deal with any accidental or deliberate release of toxic industrial chemicals or warfare agents,” the Commisioner concludes.
ZAGREB FIRE DEPARTMENT:
Sinisa Jembrith is Fire Officer for theZagreb Fire Department. Zagreb is the capital of the former Yugoslav Republic of Croatia. “We have 56 vehicles in the service, which are approximately 12 years old on average. In 2004, we had about 3,000 interventions, of which 55 % were fires and the rest were of technical rescue variety, such as carcrashes, stuck elevators, etc.,”
In total the brigade has 358 employees all together of which 332 are operational firefighters,” comments Sinisa Jembrith. There are plans to build at least three more fire stations in the City of Zagreb which has around 700,000 inhabitants. In case of a major HazMat operation, the city’s operational plan will be activated.
On a strategical level, the command is placed in the hands of the Government Fire & Rescue Directorate (DUZS). Since there are several organisations which participate in this kind of operation, an independent overseer is required, says Sinisa.
Depending on size and type of accident, the tactical and operational work of Zagreb Fire Department varies in terms of equipment needed. The brigade currently uses self-erecting decontamination tents (4 x 5 m), self-erecting tents with showers, nozzles and hot water, self-erecting decontamination pools and ordinary decontamination pools.
Zagreb’s hazmat personnel use several types of detection equipment: Dräeger: Multiwarn II SED/SEP, PAC EX 2, PAC EX 2 EX-O2, X-AM 7000, Miniwarn E, Digital thermometer MSI T3, Accuro gas detectors units, Simultantest-Set I, II and III (for measuring and detecting contaminants in the soil, water and air), CMS Analyzer (accurate gas measurements with chips), doserate meter (from Automess company), identiFINDER (Gamma and x), Pocket Dosimeters (from Thermo Eberline company), FHT 111 M Contamat Contamination Monitor (alpha, beta and gamma isotopes).
Again, depending on the size and type of accident, different organisations are involved in the operations. Besides the police department and ambulance service, a major role is played by different industrial fire departments such as chemical plants or refinery departments, which are well-equipped and trained for such largescale incidents.
Joint major casualty incidents exercises are held once per year but HazMat vehicle operational training within the fire department is held according to the monthly exercising plan, which is four times per shift.
“We have two types of HazMat vehicles in operation. Our brand new HazMat vehicle has been in service for three months now. It was built by Ziegler Croatia from our specifications, and with price of around 800,000 Euros it is the most expensive firefighting vehicle in Croatia. It comes equipped with over 450 pieces of equipment such as HazMat suits, chemical detection sets, decontamination units, various spill containment equipment and all sorts of other tools.
“We are expecting the delivery of one more HaZMat vehicle next year. This is funded by the Croatian government’s ROSENBAUER programme where state of Croatia bought 210 vehicles worth 90 million Euros. The equipment is very similar to that on the ZIEGLER vehicle but there is less of it,” he reports.
Zagreb also has three HazMat/technical vehicles of the second type. “The responders have HazMat suits and some detection equipment and pumps onboard. We are also counting Hazmat suits and Hazmat pumps which are placed in every fire station in city,” concludes Sinisa.