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How long does it take your HazMat team to dress out in a LEVEL A suit?

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I am a member of an Industrial Volunteer Fire Department, for a Pharmaceutical company, which is comprised of employees that are firefighters who are trained at the HazMat Technician Level. We currently have 12 qualified HazMat technicians who respond when toned out by security. The facility is divided into Manufacturing Operations, Packaging Operations, Laboratories (Quality and Research), Pilot Plant Operations, and Bulk Chemical Storage.
For a Level A response from time of dispatch to entry is approximately 15 minutes.
For a Level B response from time of dispatch to entry is approximately 20 minutes.
The breakdown is as follows:
-5 minute response to muster at the firehouse: the members are located throughout the site.
-5 minutes to gather the necessary information to determine what will be needed.
-Donning PPE:
-approx. 5 minutes to fully don Level A suits for 4 technicians
-approx. 10 minutes to fully don Level B suites for 4 technicians
-5 minutes to get to the scene and start the operation.
Can you get back to me with the same information from your team?
If you have any questions or issues please let me know.
DON”T be the next one, BE Safe!
Brother! looks good
What's your rush brother. Maybe it's different for you in the industrial setting. Personally I will never set 5 minutes for information gathering or any other action on a Haz Mat scene. The incident will determine the time it takes to do certain things. Once we determine the Level of protection that is warranted then my guys take the amount of time needed to ensure that they are properly protected. It's no race, it's staying safe in an unsafe atmosphere. If it takes them a little extra time to get dressed out then hey, NO SKIN OFF THEIR BACK!!!!
Operating in the Pharmaceutical industry there are a number of reasons for the quicker response times:
-Some of the reactions that occur in the production process can cause sever injury to the chemical operators.
-The Environmental implications and the potential for fines by the EPA and the Coast Guard.
-The team is on site we respond quicker. Many of the team are in the areas were the spills occur so we are almost immediately getting incident feedback.
-There are really no unknowns for the responses that we are involved in, so we have good pre-response plans. This enables us to know what to wear at a moments notice.
-We regularly train on the specific incidents that may occur. This is the primary reason for quicker response time.
So although I agree that there is no rush to a HazMat response, our department really can’t be compared to a Municipal HazMat team that should take the time necessary for personal safety.
Thanks for the feedback.
DON’T be the next one, BE safe!
Yeah, I underderstand that your team is a bit different, Thanks for the discustions-Todd
In the industrial setting it is so different most of the time they know what chemical they are dealing with and what dress thier wearing for what parts of the building thier resonding to. So most of them alott so much time for certain things. I'm in a rual enviroment and it is different then a city enviroment. However, I do agree with you do not rush things and make sure your doing the right things. Remember be safe and train
Before we worry about time perhaps we should focus on if a Level A suite is even needed. For some odd reason there seems to be many HazMat Technicians that are under the impression that a Level A suite will protect them from all hazards. For an eye opener look up bromine in your suite compatibility charts or data base. Level A suits are designed for vapor protection and are the highest level of protection we have. Keeping this in mind why then should we rush. Lets progress further than the old rules of Thumb, if you don’t Know don’t go it might blow, and Level A all the way crap and use our brain to assess the situation based on our three priorities – Life Safety, Incident Stabilization, and Property and/or Environmental Protection.

Life Safety and Level A: Determination of Viable victim or body recovery – common sense, use of monitoring equipment and a nifty math problem the 1300 rule.
Common Sense: if a person is in a vapor cloud (unknown) without respiratory protection and we can determine through eyesight he or she is alive—keep in mind that I am speaking as a HazMat team member. Typical hazmat team response sequence: Law Enforcement arrives first - 5 to 30 minutes later calls for fire - First responding fire unit arrives - 5 to 30 minutes later calls for HazMat Team. So the hazmat team may arrive on scene 15 minutes to an hour later. Taken for granted that neither the LEO or a firefighter has attempted the rescue prior to the teams arrival- this victim has been alive in a vapor cloud for longer than the IDLH of 30minutes (old definition) . Typically we use IDLH for PPE selection as well as hazard zone determination. I know what I will due (Risk Based Response) what I’ve done in the past: dressed in turn-out and SCBA I will rescue and emergency decon the victim. The vast majority of TICs cause death or serious injury by respiratory exposure. Assessing the situation correctly and applying physical properties of the product can produce sound and rapid decisions.

Incident Stabilization: Let’s look at this as an immediate need to plug or patch or control a leaking or ruptured container. Generally speaking a hazmat team responding to a transportation or fixed facility accident or incident will be able to identify the chemical or chemicals involved. So in 95% of the incidents I have responded to Level A was not needed the other 5% were involving some rather nasty chemicals that I was not in a big hurry to be involved in. These chemicals also required special kits or equipment and a decent decon system set-up prior to entry. Also an important issue here is the protection and long term protection of ones self and our team mates. Medical Monitoring should be completed prior to entry and it’s a good idea to select the proper monitoring equipment so the levels or concentration of the product can be documented in case of an exposure.

Property and/or Environmental concerns; As much as I value our environment and my commitment to save property I value my heath and life a little more. I can not see taking a chance of jeopardizing ether for the sake of time.
Excellent BROTHER and I teach them same- Todd


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