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THMG096 – Hurricane Harvey Wrap-Up


Bob was deployed to Texas to work as a hazmat specialist in response to Hurricane Harvey. Now that he’s back, we discuss his role in the response and how hazmat fit in.

Complete Show Notes

3:00 How Bob Ended Up in the Gulf Area

  • Episode recorded on September 9, 2017 after Bob returned from his deployment to Texas for Hurricane Harvey
  • Bob went in for his usual nighttime tour and was asked if he was ready to deploy – had 3 hours to go home, pack, and get back to the firehouse
  • New York City Fire and Police Departments combine to make a Type 1 team, which means they can handle just about anything – there aren’t many Type 1 teams out there
  • They were originally going to San Antonio, but ended up in Houston – had a lot of trouble getting around flooded areas

5:10 What Makes Up a Type 1 Team?

  • Go to FEMA’s website and search for “Search and Rescue Resources” to learn more about Type 1 teams
  • Made up of 80 people, including:
    • A canine team
    • Collapse
    • Rescue
    • Hazmat
    • Doctor
  • Goal is to be self-sufficient for a week – must have food, water, sleeping gear, toilet services, wound care, etc.
  • This was Bob’s first time being deployed with the team
  • Fleet included 4 tractor-trailers, 6 Sprinter vans, 4 pickup trucks, canine vehicles, and more – 14-15 vehicles total
  • The team’s job was to go down and support the local resources – served in a back-up role

18:00 Bob’s Day-to-Day Routine

  • Everyone has their own specific job
    • Logistics makes sure everything is running smoothly
    • Hazmat prepares for decon – there was a lot involved in this process because there weren’t fire hydrants around and you couldn’t use the flood water

24:00 Bob’s Role in the Hazmat Run

  • Local fire department was responding to a propane leak and asked the hazmat team to come along – Bob and one other guy went with them on a fan boat
  • You could smell the propane immediately upon arriving at the house
  • Bob had to get two rescue guys in water suits involved to help him get inside because the water was too deep
  • 250-gallon propane cylinder inside the house – water pulled on high-pressure line and broke it
  • Bob was worried about asphyxiation because this is a substance people use with chemical suicides
  • Ultimate decision was to let the tank go
    • The nearest structure was around 500 yards away
    • Bob determined the tank was around 30% full
  • Other people on-scene were uncomfortable with the decision, but they listened to Bob because he’s the hazmat guy and because he was confident
  • There was also very little electrocution concern, which was helpful

34:40 Other Hazmat Teams

  • Incident Support Team (IST) is the coordination arm of FEMA – they were in communication with everyone
  • Bob was with Dow Chemical’s hazmat team – there were probably lots of private companies handling hazmat, too

39:40 Bob’s Biggest Take-Away from the Deployment

  • Really impressed by the resiliency of the population
  • Texas truly does do everything big – the team’s base of operations (BOO) was in a high school bigger than any school he’d ever seen
  • It’s important to have patience and take your time as you look at things from a long-term point of view

Have a question? Send an email to feedback@thehazmatguys.com or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

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Author: The Hazmat Guys