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Regional HazMat Emergency Response Teams

Program Overview

In 1989, the Oregon Legislature authorized the Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) to establish a statewide Hazardous Materials Emergency Response system. Oregon was the first state in the nation to respond to the hazardous materials response crisis, created by the new federal standards, with a statewide Hazardous Materials Emergency Response system. To date, Oregon is one of the few states able to establish and maintain a program of this type. 
The Regional Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams program is a partnership between local government, industry, and the OSFM. 
The OSFM provides: 
  • Funds for specialized training
  • Emergency response vehicles/specialized equipment
  • Cost recovery
  • Program administration
Local government provides: 
  • Trained personnel - enough trained personnel to staff the team on a 24-hour, 7 days a week basis
  • Housing and maintenance of state-owned equipment
  • Outreach training for local responders/industry in their response region
Industry provides: 
  • Program funding​

Regional HazMat Emergency Response Teams (RHMERT) protect life and the environment by responding to chemical emergencies and minimizing the dangers associated with them. There are 13 teams strategically located statewide to provide response to hazardous materials incidents. The teams consist primarily of volunteer and career firefighters, with some law enforcement and public works employees. Team members attend a minimum of 160 hours of specialized training to become Hazardous Material Technicians. 
Regional Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams develop and monitor contracts with local political entities to ensure public safety through the mitigation of hazardous materials incidents occurring throughout the states.  The Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) works with the Regional HazMat Response teams to ensure proper training, equipment, and medical exams are provided for each team. OSFM ensures that parties responsible for the incidents are billed for the cost of mitigation and that the contracted teams are compensated for the allowable expenses. The HazMat teams work with and train local responders and industry to assure local communities are prepared to respond to a hazardous materials incident and create a safer community. 
This program is based on a partnership with local government, the Office of State Fire Marshal and industry wherein resources are shared to create a program that is both economical and successful.

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Funding, Team Activation and Training

Program Funding
The Regional Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams program is funded through the Petroleum Load Fee authorized in ORS 465.101-465.127. The fee is collected each time a load of petroleum products is withdrawn from a bulk facility or imported into the state.  
Team Activation
The local first responder, (fire or police), will arrive on scene and size up the incident. If it is determined the incident is beyond their level of training and equipment, the Incident Commander will request a team through the Oregon Emergency Response System (OERS) at 1-800-452-0311.  OERS will make the notification to the OSFM duty officer and other appropriate agencies. Many fire departments have developed close working relationships with their regional teams and may contact them directly to request a response. Even if they contact the team directly, the local responder will still need to contact OERS so that other appropriate notifications are made.  All teams are authorized to respond to incidents meeting state response criteria without authorization from the OSFM Duty Officer.
When a Regional Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team arrives on scene, their job is to provide technical resources to the incident commander. The local first responder retains incident command. If the incident is large enough to require a unified command, the team leader becomes a part of that structure.  The regional teams are responsible for mitigating and containing the incident. They don’t become involved in cleanup operations. Once the situation is stable the Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for working with the responsible party to assure cleanup of the incident is completed appropriately. A full team may not respond in every instance. The system provides for a tiered response ranging from technical advice over the phone, to on-site recon, to a full team response.
Technician training in the State of Oregon is standardized so all team members responding in the state have received the same base training. Per OSHA regulations, team members complete annual refresher training. Team members attend seminars, conferences, and courses nationwide for advanced training. We also assist teams in bringing advanced training to their locations so the entire team can attend.   

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Cost Recovery and Equipment

Cost Recovery
OSFM provides cost recovery for response to incidents meeting the state response criteria. OSFM will pursue collection of the actual response cost from the responsible party. If there is no responsible party, or if OSFM is unable to collect, actual costs are reimbursed by the program's revolving fund.
The state provides each team with a customized emergency response vehicle. The original vehicle configuration is being phased out over seven bienniums and replaced with a modified 36 foot trailer and two-ton tow vehicle. In addition, the new vehicle packages include a smaller trailer and Suburban to be used for recon or bringing additional supplies to a scene.
The state has provided each of the teams with Level "A", "B", and "C" Personal Protective Equipment, a computer system, communications equipment, monitoring, and detection equipment as well as a variety of materials used for mitigation and containment. Most of the equipment received by each team is standardized so that in the event two or more teams respond together, they are familiar with the available resources. 

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Standard Operating Guidelines

These are the Standard Operating Guidelines for Oregon’s Regional Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams. These guidelines provide the framework to achieve the objectives of the statewide Hazardous Materials Emergency Response system.

These guidelines form the basic foundation for standardized response from region to region across the state. They were developed and revised through the efforts of a great many people over a period of several years.The Office of State Fire Marshal and the Teams Advisory Group (TAG) have mutually agreed to them.  The TAG consists of a representative from each of the contracted regional response teams.

The purpose of these guidelines is to assist hazardous materials responders in providing safe, effective, and efficient emergency response to hazardous materials incidents statewide. They are, however, just that – standard operating guidelines.Within the structure of these guidelines, emergency response team personnel must exercise common sense and professional judgement to achieve safe, effective, and efficient mitigation of incidents involving hazardous materials. Should a major incident occur, multiple teams have been trained and equipped to provide a well-organized, integrated response to protect life, property, and the environment.

SOG-T001 Reserved 1-1
SOG-T002 Decision to Respond to Emergency Hazardous Materials Incidents 2-1
SOG-T003 Levels of Response to Hazardous Materials Incidents 3-1
SOG-T004 General Response Guidelines 4-1
SOG-T005 Mitigation Methods 5-1
SOG-T006 Decontamination Procedures 6-1
SOG-T007 Reconnaissance Procedures 7-1
SOG-T008 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 8-1
SOG-T009 Dispute Resolution 9-1
SOG-T010 Safety Program 10-1
SOG-T011 Incident Readiness/Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance 11-1
SOG-T012 Equipment Testing and Operations 12-1
SOG-T013 Contractor Inspections 13-1
SOG-T014 Reimbursed Training, Seminars and Conference Guidelines 14-1​
SOG-T015 Medical Surveillance 15-1​​
SOG-T016 Response to Drug Labs 16-1
SOG-T017 Incident Documentation/Cost Recovery 17-1​
SOG-T018 Post Training Evaluation 18-1
SOG-T019 State Owned Computer Equipment 19-1​
SOG-T020 Communications in Remote Areas via FireNet 20-1
SOG-T021 Level A and B PPE Acquisition 21-1
SOG-T022 HazMat Branch Operational System Description 22-1
SOG-T023 Grounding and Bonding 23-1
SOG-T024 Driver Training Guidelines 24-1​
SOG-T025 Training/Certification 25-1​
SOG-T026 Response to Radiation 26-1
SOG-T027 Outreach 27-1​
SOG-T030 Damage or Loss of State Property 30-1​
       SOG-T030 Notification Form​

SOG-E005 Social Media

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Standards of Coverage

In general, the purpose of the document is to address the following:
  • What are the types of risk factors within the State of Oregon related to hazardous materials incidents?
  • What is the risk profile of the State of Oregon, and is the current level of resources adequate based on applicable laws, standards, and expertise of the OSFM?
  • How does the State of Oregon Regional Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams’ retrospective performance compare with previously established goals?
  • If there are performance deficiencies, what are they, and how might they be addressed?
Specifically, this Standards of Coverage will help the State of Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal answer the following questions:
  • Are changes necessary in the location, number, or size of Regional Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams?
Standards of Coverage

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Hazardous Materials Team Boundaries

There are thirteen teams strategically located statewide. In several team locations multiple jurisdictions have partnered together to provide response. The teams are made up of volunteer and career firefighters, law enforcement, and public works employees. The diverse membership allows teams to develop areas of response expertise to respond to hazards in their response areas.
Regional Map 

Boundary Descriptions  

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Regional Teams Forms

RHMERT Prop Trailer

RHMERT Prop Trailer Calendar​​
If on a mobile phone, this can only be accessed through an updated Outlook IOS or Android app.

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