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Hazardous Incident Response Team (HIRT)

The Hazardous Incident Response Team, (HIRT) was organized in 1981. Since then HIRT has become a highly trained and equipped response team. The hazmat stations are fire/rescue stations 7 and 20. These stations are located at 8001 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase, and 9041 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, respectively. As an integrated response unit, personnel are preassigned specific duties to improve on-scene efficiency and to promote team safety.

In addition to the standard hazmat training topics, team members receive training on how to manage the consequences of incidents involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Through in-service and specialized training programs personnel receive information on terrorism and radiological, biological and chemical warfare agents, in addition, training is provided on explosives recognition and safety.

Part of the ongoing training includes gaining proficiency in the use of specialized chemical agent detection instruments, materials and equipment. During the past few months HIRT has spent substantial time developing chemical/biological decontamination procedures. Part of these procedures involve improvising ways to set up enclosed decontamination "walk-through" lanes or corridors.

One procedure involves the use of pumpers, rope and salvage covers. A ladder truck draped with salvage covers or opaque plastic is another useful method. Soon these procedures will be finalized and prepared as standard operating procedures.

In addition to its emergency response and training activities, HIRT conducts Sate of Maryland and SARA Title III inspections, other hazmat-related inspections, and participates in the county's Annual Household Hazardous Materials Clean-Up Program.


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