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Hazardous Materials Team

The Hazardous Materials Response Team (Unit 77) began in 1980 and was the first of several specialized units that the department has in operation today.

A Hazardous Materials incident is generally described as the intentional or accidental release of toxic, combustible, illegal or dangerous nuclear, biological or chemical agents into the environment.


HazMat responses are generalized under three categories:

Intentional Releases

This type of hazardous materials response is created when individuals and/or companies knowingly and illegally emit or dump toxic waste into landfills, waterways, the atmosphere and the environment in general. An example of such a release would be the illegal "cooking" of methamphetamine in clandestine drug labs. These labs cause serious health and safety issues within our community and require a large amount of time and resources to dismantle them and decontaminate the area.

Accidental Releases

This is the most common type of incident that the Hazardous Materials Team responds to. These incidents include the release of all types of spills and leaks of toxic agents resulting from collisions, container breakage or failure, fires, floods and simple human error.

Domestic Terrorism

Domestic Terrorism is the intentional release of deadly biological or chemical agents, such as Anthrax or Nerve Gas, into the general population. The threat of such attacks prompted an expansion of the Hazardous Materials Unit to include a Metropolitan Medical Strike Team (MMST).

The Haz-Mat and MMST teams are responsible for the detection, containment and neutralization of such deadly agents as well as the medical treatment of the innocent victims that this type of terrorism targets.

Since its establishment, the Hazardous Materials Unit has continually progressed and increased its capability to deal with special emergencies. Equipment has been tested and selected that most effectively protects personnel, detects and identifies released agents and contains them.

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Last Modified:   June 13, 2012

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