Las Cruces Fire Department Hazmat Team Places Second At Annual Challenge

Aug 7, 2014

Las Cruces Fire Department hazardous materials technicians mitigate a railcar chemical leak scenario during the 18th Annual Los Alamos National Laboratories Hazmat Challenge.

  The Las Cruces Fire Department Hazardous Materials Response Team (HMRT) placed second in the Overall Division after competing last week in the 18th Annual Los Alamos National Laboratories Hazmat Challenge.

The team missed first place by less than one point and placed third in the Technical Division.

The 13 teams came from New Mexico, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska. They represented fire departments, and civilian industrial and military agencies.

This year’s scenarios were tied together under the theme of natural disasters, specifically an earthquake. The scenarios included hazards such as a leaking rail car and tanker truck, a radioactive waterway, damaged pipes and valves at a facility, a confined space rescue, as well as a field monitoring exercise. Another scenario evaluated leaders and their skills when mitigating these hazardous incidents. 

Although the Hazmat Challenge is a competitive event, the real purpose is to train and prepare participating teams for real hazardous materials incidents in their communities.

“The hands-on scenarios are an excellent way to test our skills as well as learn new techniques to better protect our community when these incidents occur,” said Las Cruces Fire Department Lt. Jeremiah Lay.

Las Cruces Fire Department Chief Travis Brown said, “I am very proud of our department’s performance at the Hazmat Challenge which is a testament to the team’s dedication and ability to respond to the many needs of our community.”

LCFD’s hazardous Materials Response Team is the only Type I hazmat team in New Mexico and the border region including El Paso, Texas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency classifies a Type I team as having the highest level of response capabilities. Firefighters on the team have specialized training to handle hazardous materials incidents in addition to their required skills associated with providing fire protection and emergency medical care.

LCFD’s Hazardous Materials Response Team is housed at Fire Station 4, 2802 Missouri.

Information from Las Cruces Fire Dept.