The Tri-District Hazardous Materials Response Team (HMRT) is operated under a mutual agreement between three neighboring fire protection districts: Central Jackson County Fire Protection District (CJC), Fort Osage Fire Protection District (FO), and Sni Valley Fire Protection District (SV). All Tri-District HMRT personnel are trained to the minimum level of Hazmat Technician as outlined by DOT standards. Members volunteer to be a part of the HMRT in addition to their regularly assigned responsibilities.
The Tri-District HMRT is responsible for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) emergencies in the communities of Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Buckner, Oak Grove, Lake Tapawingo, and surrounding unincorporated Jackson County, Missouri.
The Tri-District HMRT protects a wide range of constituents, including but not limited to residential, light and moderate industrial, light to heavy commercial, and rural/agricultural. Prevalent hazards include Interstate 70, US Highways 24 and 40, East Kansas City Airport, numerous railroad lines, and a large number of industrial applications.
The Tri-District HMRT began as a small group of CJC members 1980. Full-time employee Don White and volunteers Bill Benjamin and George Glenn were key players in the creation and implementation of the team. Resources and equipment were extremely limited. Plugging and diking equipment and various hand tools were acquired from local companies, and training was completed through Johnson County Community College with the assistance of FF Benjamin.
A "bomb squad" consisted of the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief, conducting visual searches for explosive devices when needed. Personal protective equipment was inept, expensive, and in limited supply. In an effort to relieve financial burdens, CJC approached FO and SV and created a cooperative team, The Tri-District Hazmat Team was born. Over the next two decades, training and equipment improved greatly; however, staffing and funding were issues that plagued not only the Tri-District HMRT, but many hazmat teams nationwide.
September 11, 2001 was a turning point for the Hazmat response industry. The Federal Government’s focus was on protection of its citizens from another terrorist attack, foreign or domestic. Through federal grant money and assistance from the newly formed Department of Homeland Security and the Office for Domestic Preparedness, the haz mat teams were able to substantially increase equipment, training, and PPE. Team members found themselves actively participating in many regional and national training opportunities that were at one time financially unavailable or nonexistent.
(Historical Tri-District Photos)
The HMRT is now one of 8 regional teams covering the Kansas City, MO. / KS. metro area. Teams are part of the Heart of America Fire Chiefs and have regional meetings and training throughout the year. This allows the HMRT to become more aquainted with and competent in working as one large team or individual components, dependant on the incident and situation.
The Tri-District HMRT placed into service a 2006 Pierce Enforcer Hazmat truck in August 2006. This truck is located at CJC Station #3. Designated as HM-1, the truck features a 3-door command cab with a 22” raised roof, 400 hp Cummins Diesel, Allison Transmission, TAK-4 Independent Front Suspension, seating for three personnel, rollover protection with side-mounted airbags, wrap-around countertops, above-counter cabinets for reference storage, in-cab refrigerator and freezer, Will-Burt Nite Scan light tower, telescoping Pelco camera system, in-cab monitor, two 200’ mounted cord reels, rack mounted SCBA’s with additional cylinder storage, eight-drawer toolbox, awnings, roll-up doors, four storage boxes on the roof of the truck, and adjustable shelving.
(Current Tri-District HMRT Apparatus)
Additionally, the Tri-District HMRT has in service a mass decontamination trailer that features multiple decontamination shelters and equipment and a diesel fuel water heater to provide warm water for winter operations. The Tri-District HMRT also maintains a Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) trailer.
The MMRS system was created in 1996 and is in place to provide highly populated areas an enhanced capability to respond to a mass casualty incident caused by a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) event. This trailer carries decontamination shelters and equipment, folding stretchers, Draeger BG-4 extended duration SCBA, heaters, and a generator.
All members of the Tri-District HMRT are trained to a minimum level of Hazmat Technician. Team activations are announced on both Fire Dispatch and pagers. Both on-duty and off-duty team members report to CJC Station #3 for briefing and transport to the incident. Additionally, an engine company and med unit may be assigned to respond with the team to assist with decontamination and any medical needs that may arise. The HMRT structure consists of a team coordinator, a team manager, squad leaders, a team chemist and team members.
Training is held the 3rd Friday of every month and typically covers in-service training on new equipment and refresher training on existing equipment, material identification, chemistry, policies and procedures, decontamination, and hazard mitigation.
Additional training is held throughout the year in the form of specialized regional and national classes and seminars, local and regional drills, and refreshers. Team members are also encouraged to enroll in out-of-state courses. These specialized, hands-on courses are typically not offered at a local or regional level.
Classes such as Radiological/Nuclear, Advanced Chemical/Biological Response, Evidence Collection, Threat and Risk Assessment, and Incident Command are offered at multiple sites, including National Fire Academy (Emmitsburg, MD), Nevada Test Site (NV desert), Center for Domestic Preparedness (Anniston, AL), U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground (UT desert), and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro, NM). With the emphasis on training, prevention and early detection of hazardous materials incidents, the risks to both civilians and responders are minimized.