The Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue Hazmat program began in 1984, the year that the Bhopal, India chemical disaster highlighted the destructive potential of hazardous materials. Prince William County contains industrial and research facilities, interstates 66 and 95, as well as two major railroads and an airport. It was recognized that a robust hazmat program was necessary to respond to these locations.
The program started with a single yellow suburban and has since grown to include multiple apparatus, dedicated officers, and an extensive training program. Currently, the department employs a civilian hazmat coordinator, a uniformed hazmat officer, and 61 firefighters trained to perform offensive-level operations. Additionally, all uniformed members are given basic hazmat training.
Station 506, located at 13712 Dumfries Rd, is the primary station for hazardous materials response. Hazmat 506 is capable of responding to all-hazards situations, including chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. The hazmat vehicle is equipped to provide atmospheric monitoring, sampling, spill containment, and decontamination capability. Technicians are trained to use a wide array of tools such as infrared spectroscopy to identify the hazards of unknown substances.
Station 516, located at 7190 Yates Ford Road, provides scalable support for hazardous materials incidents. Hazmat Support 516 offers additional equipment such as personal protective clothing, large quantity leak control, and advanced technical decontamination. Finally, the capability for mass decontamination in a major event is available with equipment pre-deployed within the county.