The HIT team was formed in 1981, with the purpose of responding to hazardous chemical emergencies in the County that exceeded the knowledge and capabilities of the average first responders. In 1987, an agreement was signed with the Virginia Department of Emergency Services (VDES) that placed the team under a contract for regional response. Thus, upon request of VDES, the HIT team, unless otherwise engaged within Henrico County, will respond to hazardous materials (hazmat) events anywhere in the central portion of Virginia. VDES in turn provides training for the team and reimburses the team for costs incurred while on regional calls. The contract also provides for an annual allotment to be used by the team to purchase equipment and other necessary supplies.
The team consists of approximately 40 members, most are trained to the Specialist level and the remainders are trained to the Technician level. The team responds with three vehicles that carry extensive communication equipment, chemical protective clothing, detection and monitoring equipment, and a reference library.
The team responds to approximately 30 calls a year. Most of these are not full team deployments and are handled by the on-duty fire fighters with the equipment on the truck. The calls range in nature from transportation accidents involving highly toxic acids to chlorine leaks in industrial facilities to illegal drug labs. The most common types of calls involve flammable liquids such as gasoline.
The Vehicles used by the HIT team:
HAZMAT 1 – 2006 Freightliner. It has communication equipment, detection and monitoring equipment, and a reference library
HAZMAT 2 – 2006 Freightliner 5 man tractor and 36ft trailer. It has protective clothing, changing room for 6 people and decontamination equipment.
HAZMAT 3 – 1994 International 22′ box truck that carries tools, absorbents, and other necessary equipment.