The Gainesville Fire Rescue Hazmat Team continues to work on a local, regional and statewide basis to improve the hazardous materials response for the citizens of Gainesville and the residents of the 11 counties within the District 3 Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). GFR is the only municipal Hazardous Materials Team in this district.
GFR participates on the LEPC in planning response and prevention of hazardous materials releases. Additionally Special Operations Chief Jeff Tucker is a member of the Florida State Emergency Response Commission Training (SERC) Training Task Force, which develops the State training guidelines for hazardous materials responders, works on legislation, and has been instrumental in the development of the District Hazardous Materials Response Team concept.
Recently, GFR and the other 11 counties in the District 3 LEPC formed the North Central Florida Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team (NCFRHMRT). This team is the result of several years of planning and is spearheaded by the LEPC.
North Central Florida has a population of over 434,000 people, covers nearly 7,000 square miles and until now, the City of Gainesville had the only local government hazardous materials emergency response team.
The cities of Gainesville, Starke and Lake City, and the counties of Alachua, Bradford, Union, Columbia and Gilchrist have now entered into an Inter-local agreement to create the first multi-county, multi-city hazardous materials response team in the State of Florida. In addition to the Inter-local agreement all of the parties have also passed Hazardous Materials Cost Recovery Ordinances.This new and innovative approach to Hazardous Materials Response is being used as a model for other areas of the State.
Locally GFR has been active in a new organization that is looking into the interagency response to a hazardous materials incident within Alachua County. The "Alachua County Hazardous Materials Response Work Group" has members from Gainesville Fire Rescue, Alachua County Fire Rescue, Alachua County Emergency Management, Alachua County Department of Environmental Protection, LEPC Staff, as well as others. The Work Group is working to provide an interagency response plan for local hazardous materials incidents.
Work continues on improving the response capabilities of the team. With the addition of a 24-foot trailer to the team equipment, GFR can respond to a scene with a wider array of available resources.
Each shift on the Hazmat Team has taking on more responsibilities in regarding the day-to-day operations of the team. "A" Shift has assumed responsibility for the Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes the specialized chemical protect suits. "B" Shift has assumed responsibility for the chemical detection equipment used by the team. This includes the maintenance and calibration of the monitoring equipment. "C" Shift has assumed responsibility for overall ordering of supplies and insuring that the team is supplied with the necessary equipment.