In 1978, the Miami (FI.) Fire-Rescue Department formed a special tactics team, which was specially trained and equipped for heavy rescue operations. The spectrum of incidents to which this team responded soon expanded to include hazardous materials. As more specialized training and equipment were acquired for haz-mat response, the team took on this new role as its primary mission while continuing to respond to heavy rescue incidents and he special-called to fires. It soon was named the Hazardous-Materials Team (HMT).

The HMT began serious research for a hazardous-materials response vehicle in 1986. As the equipment inventory grew, the need for more cargo space became apparent—the HMT’s existing apparatus and ‘/4-ton window van could not carry all the rescue equipment and “tools of the haz-mat trade.” The department wanted this new apparatus to be multifunctional: While its primary function would be to transport the HMT and necessary equipment anti supplies to all hazardous-materials responses, many exterior compartments would be dedicated to heavy rescue responses, and the interior design would include a haz-mat command center.

The initial process included establishing vendor contacts, studying several blueprints, making numerous sketches, and analyzing many existing units. In July 1988 a full-time haz-mat team coordinator was assigned to complete the detailed process toward the final design and purchase of our much-needed hazardous-materials response vehicle and foam pumper.

The haz-mat team coordinator, a member of the original HMT, was very familiar with HMT equipment, procedures, and objectives. The coordinator gathered and reviewed pertinent product and equipment information and trade publication articles and attended manufacturer trade shows, apparatus displays, musters, and professional conferences and seminars. Information gathered from these efforts was helpful in the reviewing and revising of the existing HMT mitigation procedures, protocols, and SOPs. All of these efforts resulted in the development of our haz-mat apparatus design profiles.


The chassis. We specified a custom rather than a commercial chassis to extend vehicle service life based on calculated HMT equipment loads and anticipated response activity. An engine-forward, split tilt-cab with raised command crew cab is the most favorable design because it offers flexibility and compatibility for our HMT. The HM I station apparatus garage door is one of the lowest in the city, so we were careful not to exceed its limits. Overall, the vehicle is 30 feet long and 9‘/2 feet tall.

The vehicle is powered by a 350horsepower turbocharged engine with computer-monitored emissions and a computer-monitored automatic transmission. We also specified an electromagnetic brake retarder linked to the drivetrain output—this greatly improves the chassis standard brake system.

The cab!command. Seating and safety belts, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association, for five HMT members are provided in an air-conditioned cab and command crew cab area. These areas were designed for proper secure mounting and use of the haz-mat reference library, a computer (containing hazardous-materials information), a printer, a fax/copier, cellular phones, modems, 800and 450-MHz radios, weather scanners, incident command management boards, tools, and related equipment. Another feature is an intercom that allows communication between the command cab and the vehicle exterior.

Compartment layout. The compartment body (or module) is not just a “big box.” It was designed and engineered to provide the calculated space required for all of the existing and some of the anticipated new HMT equipment. Placement of HMT equipment on the apparatus was guided by HMT functions, operational protocols, procedures, and SOPs.

Beware of designing an apparatus around existing equipment— you must plan for the inevitable new tools. Since attention to detail is important in a project of this magnitude, all equipment in stock and most desired pieces of equipment were weighed and measured. The length, width, and height of every item —from chlorine kits to grounding rods and waterdriven blowers—were documented. We tallied nearly 7,000 pounds of existing (and desired) equipment, all of which now is carried on this one vehicle.

Equipment storage location and deployment models were compared with actual HMT operational procedures and protocols. For easy comparison, equipment placement models were overlaid on the sketches and blueprints. Ever mindful of chassis loading and the operational function of our HMT equipment, we considered different layouts for storing equipment. We evaluated equipment placement in high and low side compartments, on pull-out trays and adjustable shelves, in underbody and rooftop compartments, and even inside the apparatus command crew cab area. This is the most important step in planning any apparatus that will carry’ many pieces of equipment and supplies. The more time spent here, the less headaches about misfitting items and running out of room later.


These are the results of the compartment layout effort:

  • Ground-level side compartments all have roll-up doors and adjustable vertical shelving hardware, which provides almost unlimited flexibility for compartment layout and equipment storage. Two “through-andthrough” compartments run the width of the vehicle. Horizontal drawers, positioned above shoulder height, were specified to pull out and drop down, minimizing the need to lift heavy equipment while providing efficient equipment access to firefighters of most heights.

(Photos by Robert B. Milnes.)

All compartment drawer and tool boards lock in the open and closed positions and have bright, highly visible reflective stripes to help minimize injury. SCBA cylinders also are stored in the fender wells.

  • Underbody compartment drawers were designed to earn various equipment loads, mindful of the equipment’s operational function. We considered also the potential weight of firefighters using these drawers as a step for reaching high side compartments.
  • Rooftop compartments were designed to contain bulk items. Roof compartment door lids are capable of supporting a 500-pound load, lock in the closed position, and have gasshock-type door-open devices, fullcompartment lighting, and a drainage system. Two pull-out steps and two vertical ladders on the rear of the vehicle provide safe access to the rooftop compartments. An equipment and tool-hoisting device was designed to bring bulk supplies to and from the rooftop compartments. It uses all NFPA-recommended equipment and hardware, has a 100-pound load limit, and can lift two five-gallon containers at a time.
The command crew cob incorporates necessary communications, information, and incident command equipment. This includes an overhead reference library, several incident management boards (see inset), binoculars, a haz-mat reference computer, a fax/copier machine, and a cellular phone. Note the three SCBA crew seats and 12-volt hand lights.


Heavy rescue side. We designed the road-side of the vehicle to contain heavy rescue equipment. The compartments on this side hold equipment such as hydraulic rescue tools, chains, and high-angle rescue/rappelling rope kits. The underbody pull-out drawers hold cribbing and heavy rescue support equipment, a low-pressure air-control module, assorted lifting bags, cylinder/pipe patch kits, and color-coded air hoselines. All equipment for HMT operations is placed for maximum accessibility.

This equipment and tool-hoisting device makes getting supplies to and from the rooftop compartments easier.

Roadside compartments contain (left to right): tanker dome clamps gas line crimping vises 34-inch socket and hand tool sets CO2, dry chemical, Metal X, and Purple K extinguishers 200 feet of low pressure air hose on electric reel air chisels, cutting wheels, accessories in tool box water-driven blower unit dolly chlorine kits leak and patch kits traffic barricades grounding rods and cables roils of six-mm plastic tri-fold 12-foot sheeting tear-away bags

high-angle rescue/rappelling rope kits

utility rope bags

water rescue rope containers

edge rollers

reflective road marker kits traffic barricades

100 feet of twin hydraulic hose on top-mounted electric reel hydraulic power unit hydraulic spreader, cutter, ram pistons hooks, chains, chain adjuster kits, fuel cans in tool boxes

sledgehammers kelly tools crow bars pry bars

ffathead and pike axes bolt cutters

Haz-mat side. The curb side of the vehicle contains equipment for hazardous-materials response. These compartments contain items such as 12 Level A encapsulating suits (hung on a hanger rack that glides out of a vertical compartment). Underbody compartments contain folding benches and support entry equipment. A folding table is carried in one of the “through-and-through” compartments. There is also an awning used to provide HMT members with shade and shelter from Miami’s semitropical climate.

Roof. Twelve roof compartments contain bulk supplies of AFFF, petroleum sorbent, sand, and soda ash, color-coded for easy recognition. The roof also stores items such as decon showers, catchalls, and haz-mat support equipment. Specialized HMT equipment often is difficult to store. Used occasionally, these items are essential for safe and effective haz-mat operations.

Rear. Some of the equipment stored in the rear compartments includes rehydration coolers, two 200-foot ectric cord reels, recovery drums, id two 500-watt removable/remote lescoping quartz floodlights on triDds. A folding 12-foot ladder, stored i the center rear rooftop compartlent, is accessible through a small pening at the rear of the vehicle. When designing the haz-mat vehile, we made sure to allot room for eras, such as the ladder, that might e left back at the station because of ick of cargo space. While not used at very incident, when you need a idder to reach the top of an overurned tank truck, for instance, it is dvantageous to have one with you.

Rear compartments contain: rehydration coolers two 200-foot electric cord reels cord guides and junction boxes overpack and steel recovery drums bags of petroleum sorbent traffic/safety cones ladder

Curbside compartments contain (left to right):

long-handle tools

shovels and brooms

traffic barricades

scene marking tapes

entry support equipment


atmospheric monitor and detectors

four radio communications headsets in tool boxes

four one-hour SCBAs

four spare SCBA cylinders oxygen units patient-handling gloves fracture kits first-aid kits

shelves for two oscillating circulation fans four disposable Level A encapsulating suits four Level D hi-temp flash suits, gloves, boots 12 Level A encapsulating suits, gloves, boots entry support equipment

Rooftop compartments contain:

14 five-gallon cans of AFFF

six five-gallon cans of petroleum sorbent

six five-gallon cans of sand

six five-gallon cans of soda ash

six five-gallon cans of Hi-Ex foam

five five-gallon cans of sodium hydroxide

Hi-Ex foam nozzles

500-gpm hydro-foam nozzle

assorted foam eductors

two decon shower units

two #10 wash tubs

three #4 buckets

three 50-foot garden hoses with nozzles

1½and 2’/?-inch gated wyes

seven decon brushes

five scrub brushes

10 collection buckets

salvage covers

rooftop equipment hoist

rope, carabiners, pulleys

480-cubic-foot air reservoir tank

absorbent pillows, pads, tubes

Battery compartment on a pull-out tray shows the six, jell-cell, deep cycle, marine batteries arranged in a two-bank series configuration.The bside of the vehicle set up at a haz-mat incident offers HMT members comfort and efficient entry preparation.

Lighting ancl electrical power. emergency lighting systems integrate trobe, halogen, and incandescent ighting of white, amber, and red ;olors. A mix of pulsing, rotating, and lashing lights maximizes vehicle recognition and movement and stationin’ operation acknowledgment. Several hand-held and fixed spotlights md floodlights output millions of candlepower, while 12and 120-volt scene lighting is provided in fixed, telescoping, and removable/remote formats.

Originally, plans called for placing a 15-kw, diesel-powered generator in the rear center compartment. After additional consideration of the maintenance the generator would require and, most of all, of the space that would be lost, we instead chose a transmission PTO-type electric generator, which made space for always difficult-to-store recovery drums. This generator outputs 20 kw of electrical power; the revised design exceeded all the calculated electrical requirements of the apparatus, whether 12volt or 120-volt service. A shoreline connection allows auxiliary power input in the field and in the station keeps the six “dual-series,” deep-cycle, jell-cell marine battery system at peak charge. It was calculated that with this battery setup, with the engine off we could run 12-volt lights and electrical accessories on the vehicle for 1 ½ hours. This electrical system also provides steady power to eight fixed-equipment charging stations (six outlets each), to the command cab, and for the vehicle’s compartment access lights.

The features of the vehicle and practical organization of equipment make setting up and working at an incident efficient and effective. The details and logical layout make this vehicle “user friendly.” Much of this careful planning and efficient use of space can be attributed to many hours of dedication as well as the preconstruction and predelivery conferences between the department and the apparatus manufacturer.

When setting up for a hazardousmaterials incident, for instance, the awning is opened, the benches and tables are set up, and the two oscillating fans are turned on. These all add comfort to the members donning hazmat suits. This equipment is on the curb side of the vehicle for safety: You don’t want to be sitting out in the middle of the road. While four members are dressing up, other members of the haz-mat team (as well as responding firefighters) are setting up showers and unloading supplies needed to mitigate the incident. At the same time, all pertinent data in the library and computer in the command cab are being researched. The intercoms allow easy communication among the cab and the left and right sides of the vehicle, for more efficiency. Everything entry team members need to prepare themselves is on the curb side of the vehicle; other equipment, such as a cylinder patch kit, is gathered by the other HMT members or firefighters.

Every item is where it needs to be for a smooth-running operation, whether it be a haz-mat or heavy rescue incident. W’hen every second counts, you have to save time in every way. Time spent “on the drawing board” conserves time on the scene.

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