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Regional Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams (RHMERT)

Teams consist primarily of career and volunteer fire-fighters, with some law enforcement and public works employees. We work with these teams to ensure proper training, equipment and medical exams are provided for each team member. 

​Regional teams respond to hazardous materials emergency incidents that exceed the resources of local jurisdictions. There are 13 teams across Oregon. They are a technical resource for local incident commanders. Team members are trained to the technician level and are equipped to provide Level A, B, C, and D response. They have received specialized training and equipment through the Department of Homeland Security to prepare them for response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) incident. The Teams  provide outreach training to local responders and industry to ensure communities are prepared to respond to a hazardous materials incident and create safer communities. ​

Team members attend a minimum of 160 hours of specialized training to become hazardous materials technicians. Technician training in Oregon is standardized ensuring all team members have the same basic training. Team members are required to take annual refresher training and must complete the Oregon Regional Hazardous Materials Response Teams Task Book every two years. ​
Funding is provided through the Petroleum Load Fee​ authorized in OAR 837-090-1145. The fee is collected each time a load of petroleum products is withdrawn from a bulk facility or imported into the state. This program is based on a partnership with local government, the OSFM and industry sharing resources to create a program that is both economical and successful.

A Hazardous Materials Incident Report is required within ten working days after the incident occurs. Agencies required to report include:

Fire Departments, State HazMat Teams, Law Enforcement, Oregon Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Quality, any emergency service or state agency

Filing a Report

For reporting purposes, a hazardous materials incident is defined as the threatened or actual injury to a human, wildlife, domestic animal or the environment, or any property loss resulting from a hazardous substance release.

There are three exceptions. A report is not required for:

  1. Motor fuels spilled from a vehicle in quantities less than 42 gallons (unless the fuel enters a waterway, or is determined to endanger the public safety or immediate or surrounding environment, including ground water);
  2. Sewage overflows; and
  3. Structure fires or other emergencies where hazardous substances are involved as exposures only and did not contribute to the cause of the emergency or to an injury or death. ​

We provide cost recovery for response to incidents meeting the state response criteria. We also will pursue collection of the actual response cost from the responsible party. If there is no responsible party, or if we are unable to collect, actual costs are reimbursed by the program's revolving fund.

Each team member is provided a customized emergency response vehicle. The original vehicle configuration is being phased out over seven biennium’s and replaced with a modified 36 foot trailer and two-ton tow vehicle. New vehicle packages include a smaller trailer and Suburban to be used for recon or bringing additional supplies to a scene.
We provide 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 all teams are familiar with the available resources to support each other. 

Should a major incident occur, multiple teams are trained and equipped to provide a well organized, integrated response to protect life, property, and the environment.​

Guidelines assist hazardous materials responders with safe, effective, and efficient emergency response to hazardous materials incidents statewide.

Within the structure of these guidelines, emergency response team personnel must exercise common sense and professional judgment to achieve safe, effective, and efficient mitigation of incidents involving hazardous materials.​

Video Links
Nova Program: Dirty Bomb
Railroad Tank Gauge Kit

SOG-T001       Reserved
SOG-T002 Decision to Respond to Emergency Hazardous Materials Incidents
SOG-T003 Levels of Response to Hazardous Materials Incidents
SOG-T004 General Response Guidelines
SOG-T005 Mitigation Methods
SOG-T006 Decontamination Procedures
SOG-T007 Reconnaissance Procedures
SOG-T008 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
SOG-T009 Dispute Resolution
SOG-T010 Safety Program
SOG-T011 Incident Readiness/Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance
SOG-T012 Equipment Testing and Operations
SOG-T013 Contractor Inspections
SOG-T014 Reimbursed Training, Seminars and Conference Guidelines
SOG-T015 Medical Surveillance
SOG-T016 Response to Drug Labs
SOG-T017 Incident Documentation/Cost Recovery
SOG-T018 Post Training Evaluation
SOG-T019 State Owned Computer Equipment
SOG-T020 Communications in Remote Areas via FireNet
SOG-T021 Level A and B PPE Acquisition
SOG-T022 HazMat Branch Operational System Description
SOG-T023 Grounding and Bonding
SOG-T024 Driver Training Guidelines
SOG-T025 Training/Certification
SOG-T026 Response to Radiation Incidents
SOG-T027 Hazardous Materials Response Teams Outreach
SOG-T030 Damage or Loss of State Property - Fleet Crash/Damage Notification Form​

​​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. 

​This document, in the library below, addresses 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? 

​To highlight the Regional Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Teams (RHMERT) program, the Office of State Fire Marshal has created thr​ee informational posters for our fire service and other partners about these critical statewide resource. Posters will be mailed to partner agencies and can be downloaded here by clicking on each image. ​(File may take time to download.)



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