Hazardous Materials

The amount and severity of the hazardous materials both within the City and transiting through the City is staggering. As the threat potential is high, the incident level is low for significant occurrences, much to the credit of industry. While Dow Chemical maintains multiple response teams skilled in the hazards and mitigation techniques of a specific product (chemical line), the department, according to state mandate, must be prepared to respond to and appropriately address any threat to man or the environment.

On hazardous material incidents the Fire Department would be responsible for the following:
  1. Command of the incident.
  2. Identification of the material.
  3. Establishment of an exclusion zone.
  4. Evacuation of victims.
  5. Stop material from spreading. To be completed in a defensive manner at a safe distance.
  6. Gross decontamination of victims and emergency workers.
  7. Mass Casualty.
  8. Specialty skills.
    • Liquefied petroleum gas
    • Flammable liquid fuels
  9. Contacting other agencies that would be involved.


Similar to rescue, notification can be critical to not an issue, depending upon the type, quantity and characteristics of the threat. As an example, a contained 50-gallon diesel spill in December is a rather stable scene. That same spill on a hot July day poses a real threat and requires immediate action to stabilize. If products other than fossil fuels are involved, there is a great deal of difficulty in identifying the actual product.


Response is predicated upon the guidelines in the Federal DOT Hazmat Guidebook. Response is initially a reconnaissance followed by action as dictated by the scene, the product, the threat and the level of action required. Rescue and Engine 1 or Engine 4 will initially respond. Arrival at the scene will be planned so that it is upwind, uphill and a distance from the incident.


Career firefighters are trained to NFPA hazardous materials awareness and operations level. At this level of training their task is protecting nearby persons, the environment, or property from the effects of the release. They respond in a defensive fashion to control the release from a safe distance and keep it from spreading. Most of the members have had additional training to the New Hampshire Fire Standards Career Level. This additional level of hazardous material training covers eight hours of liquefied petroleum gases and other gases, as well as eight hours of flammable liquids fires. Call firefighters are trained to the NFPA 472 Awareness Level. If specialized action is required, expensive private companies will have to be employed to accomplish the necessary tasks under the department's control.