Fire Chief Steven Davis and members of the Madison Fire Department Hazardous Incident Team (HIT) recently paid visits to the 54th Civilian Support Team (CST) and the Fitchburg Fire Department to thank them for their assistance training our newest firefighters on January 6, 2016.
All Madison Fire Department recruits receive Hazmat Technician training and certification during their time in our Fire Academy, but for the first time, this training was provided in-house by core members of the MFD HIT in collaboration with the 54th CST and Fitchburg Fire.
The 54th CST provided instruction on chemical, radiological, and biological agents; meth labs; sampling live agents; air monitoring; and reviewing front line monitors. They brought a mobile lab that's equipped to test samples of liquid, powder, solids, and weapons of mass destruction, and they demonstrated how to collect those samples. Recruits learned how to document the samples for the hygiene lab and had the opportunity to review case studies from previous incidents in which the 54th CST and MFD HIT worked together.
"Our firefighters gained valuable hands-on experience working side by side with elite hazmat specialists," says Madison Fire Lieutenant and Hazardous Incident Team Leader Rob Ready.
Additionally, members of the Fitchburg Fire Department graciously provided a classroom, computers, and AV equipment at their Fire Station 2 (King James Way) for our Class 4 recruits. They also escorted the class to four buildings in their territory where the recruits practiced building size-up and threat assessment, then put together a plan using an eight-step Hazmat response process.
"Each group found different things-- potential groundwater contamination, gas hazards, good locations for damming and diking of product," Lt. Ready explains, highlighting the complementary benefits of teamwork during a HIT response.
This collaboration between the MFD, CST, and Fitchburg Fire is especially important because of the frequency with which our agencies work together in the field.
Parts of Station 7's territory (where the MFD HIT is located) share borders with the Fitchburg Fire Department's territory. Familiarity with those sites-- and with one another-- fosters a seamless response when our agencies are called upon in those areas. Since the training on January 6, the HIT has visited two Fitchburg facilities alongside Fitchburg FD for educational site tours.
In 2015, the 54th CST was asked to assist the MFD after a meth lab was discovered inside a home on Gorham Street. The CST is also on hand for significant non-emergency events in Madison, including Badgers football games at Camp Randall Stadium. The MFD HIT's standard operating guidelines pertaining to hazardous material response and mitigation are directly based on the 54th CST's best practices.
We extend our sincere gratitude to the 54th CST and Fitchburg Fire Department for contributing to a learning experience both rich and realistic for our recruits.
Not only does this type of collaboration enhance the MFD's ability to effectively mitigate complex incidents involving hazardous materials, it also inspires new firefighters to pursue Hazmat as a specialty.
Lieutenant Rob Ready contributed to this post.