Section V-1


Hazardous Materials


Purpose:  To establish tactical and strategic guidelines to be executed when responding to possible or confirmed hazardous materials spills, leaks, and fires.


Scope:  These guidelines pertain to all Three Star Fire Department personnel when called to perform emergency services dealing with hazardous materials.




Three Star Fire Department personnel are not trained or equipped to handle hazardous material incidents at this time.  Incident Commanders must immediately request assistance from Covington or Munford Fire Department.


When accidents or fires occur involving hazardous materials, the first priority is the prevention of fatalities and injuries.  The prevention of damage to property and of injury to livestock, wildlife and the environment is a secondary priority.


To manage a hazardous materials incident in the safest manner, it is absolutely necessary to know the properties of the materials and the shipping containers involved.


It must be emphasized that no individual can ever be assumed to be an "expert" in this field and that a heavy reliance must be placed on obtaining information from external sources.  It must also be stressed that hazardous materials incidents cannot be handled in the same manner as typical firefighting operations.  Quick aggressive action is most often inappropriate in a hazardous materials incident and can potentially increase the risk of unnecessary exposure of personnel.  Hazardous materials incidents are often time consuming and can be very demanding from an incident management perspective.  It is especially critical that all officers and firefighters work within the Incident Command System.  All actions taken must be deliberate and planned after properly identifying the substance involved.


It is possible that the affected area, or “Hot Zone,” can have such a high degree of hazardous contamination that the only safe course is to essentially seal the outer perimeter and evacuate those who may have been exposed to the material(s).  Severe hazards often exist without combustion, smoke, or noticeable fumes.


Use the Department of Transportation Emergency Response Guide (ERG handbook) located in each fire apparatus to identify and ascertain the dangers and characteristics of the hazardous materials involved.  The handbook will also contain relevant emergency response information.


If an incident involving hazardous materials happens, IMMEDIATELY:


1.   Notify Tipton County Dispatch and request Covington Hazardous Materials Response Team.


2.   Make initial survey of the scene, determining:



3.   Rescue/remove from the Hot Zone any exposed or injured people, if possible.  Wearing the proper protective clothing and the utilization of appropriate equipment is paramount. NOTE:  PPE issued at Three Star Fire Department is NOT designed for hazardous material emergencies.  Plan escape routes before entering the Hot Zone.  Personnel are not to be exposed unnecessarily to the materials, smoke, and/or fumes.


4.   Make every attempt to identify the specific products, cars, trailers, or containers involved.  Identify the hazard class of all materials involved.  Truck drivers are require to carry all  shipping papers containing this information, or the papers will be kept within the cab of the involved truck.  Placards applied to vehicles and/or labels on packages may help in identify the presence of hazardous materials, but the shipping papers are the best source of on-scene identification information.  If these papers are destroyed, the carrier should be contacted to ascertain the exact material or substance being carried.


      Use the Department of Transportation Emergency Response Guide (handbook) located in each fire apparatus to identify and ascertain the dangers and characteristics of the hazardous materials involved.  The handbook will also contain relevant emergency response information.  Incident Commanders should also contact CHEMTREC at (800) 424-9300, which can provide additional information.


5.   Do not release any product(s) from containers or attempt to ignite or detonate either the materials or the containers.  The use of the thermal imaging camera may help in identifying hazardous levels.


6.   The shipper(s) should be contacted for additional information on the product(s) involved.  Again, CHEMTREC should be contacted and both CHEMTREC and the shipper should be given the following information:


·        Your name, location and contact telephone number

·        Location of the incident

·        Carrier involved

·        Vehicle reporting marks (car or truck number)

·        Placard / label applied on vehicle

·        Name of commodity and shipper

·        Accessibility

·        Weather conditions

·        Local population information

·        Topographical information

·        Availability of water


General Classifications of Hazardous Materials

Following is a list of the general classifications of hazardous materials.  DOT classifies chemicals according to their major hazardous characteristics.  These are determined by the chemical and physical properties of the chemical involved.  Remember chemicals can have more than one hazard and may have multiple hazards.

1.   Explosives:  Explosives are any chemical compound, mixture or device used primarily to function by detonation or deflagration.  For fires near explosives, every effort shall be made to extinguish the fire before it reaches the explosive.  Do not fight fires involving explosives, as an explosion is extremely likely.  Some explosives will explode immediately on ignition; others may burn for a period of time before exploding.  Products of combustion of some explosives may be poisonous.


2.   Gases:  A non-flammable gas is a gas that will not form a flammable mixture in air but may support combustion.  These gases may be oxidizers, poisons, corrosives, etc.  Certain gases, while classified as "non-flammable" by DOT, have narrow flame ranges.  Anhydrous ammonia is an example of this type of gas.  There is a possibility that such gases could ignite or flash during an incident under certain circumstances.  A flammable gas is a gas that will form a flammable mixture when released in air.  Flammable gas vapors can be heavier than air.  Do not permit these vapors to enter the sewer system where they can accumulate and ignite.  A cryogenic gas is a liquefied gas at a temperature below –328F.  These gases present an extreme cold hazard to the point that they freeze objects to a point of brittleness where impact can shatter the frozen object. 


3.   Flammable Liquids:  A flammable liquid is any liquid having a flash point below 100F.  The possibility of ignition is greatest for liquids with low flash points.  The lower the flash point, the greater the probability that the temperature of the liquid at atmospheric temperature will be higher than the flash point of the liquid.  The higher the temperature, the greater the amount of vapor formed and the greater the hazard.  Prevent flammable liquid spills from entering the sewer system or waterways as they can easily be ignited at a distance from the actual point of entry.  An empty or partially empty container can be more hazardous than a full one because the vapor air mixture is more susceptible to ignition.


4.   Combustible Liquids:  Combustible liquids are those having a flash point above 100F.  Under extreme heat conditions, liquids normally classified as combustible may evolve sufficient vapors to require handling them as flammable liquids.  Keep in mind that combustible liquids may present other hazards to health and environmental contamination. 


5.   Flammable Solids:  A flammable solid is any material other than an explosive which under normal transportation conditions is liable to cause a fire through friction or retained heat or one that can be ignited readily and burn vigorously.  Spontaneously combustible and water reactive substances are included in this class.  Spontaneously combustible substances ignite due to retained heat or will oxidize to generate heat and ignite or will absorb moisture to generate heat and ignite.  Water reactive solids will chemically react with water to become spontaneously flammable or give off flammable or toxic vapors.  Air reactive materials will ignite at normal temperatures when exposed to air.  White phosphorous, a flammable solid and poison is an example.


6.   Oxidizers:  Oxidizers are substances that yield oxygen readily and stimulate combustion of organic material.  Most oxidizers shipped as liquids will cause fire by contact to combustible material.  Organic peroxides heated above their transportation temperatures are likely to explode.  If an accident occurs involving refrigerated truck carrying organic peroxides and refrigeration is lost, there is a strong possibility that an explosion will occur.  In addition to supplying oxygen, oxidizers have other hazards:  some are explosive sensitive to heat, shock or friction, some react with combustible organic materials rapidly enough to cause spontaneous combustion.  Most oxidizers will form an easily ignited or explosive mixture when united with finely divided organic materials.


7.   Poisons:  A poison may be a gas or liquid which only a very small amount of gas or vapor from the liquid mixed with air will be dangerous to life.  Shipping containers for poisons DO NOT have pressure relief devices.   If a poison is involved with fire, the products of combustion may be less hazardous than the poison itself.  It may be less dangerous to allow the poison to be consumed in the fire than to extinguish it and be faced with a poison vapor problem.  The decision can only be made after a proper hazard assessment.  Any water runoff from such fire will have to be contained and tested.  Empty poison containers are extremely dangerous due to residue remaining.