ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud is one of eleven cities in the state to have a chemical assessment team. Located at Fire Station 2, the Haz-mat team is responsible for nine counties monitoring any hazardous spills.

Leon Faust is the Battalion Chief for the Haz-mat team. He says the training the crew goes through is unlike regular fire fighter training.

"They are skilled in everything from plugging, patching, chemistry, and being familiar with physical and chemical properties."

Before the team can go out on a call they must get orders from the state Duty Officer, who also helps supply all the equipment and funds.

Faust says the team does not need to be present to start helping solve the problem. Thanks to the technology in their 68 foot truck and trailer,  they can begin helping as soon as they are in route to the scene.

"We can make recommendations to the on-scene commander on route to the scene. We don't have to wait until we get there, a lot can be done in the truck."

When at the scene a lot of computer monitoring, preparation and research continues before the team jumps into action, to make sure their crew and citizens remain safe.

"A lot of planning happens first, we need to know what we are working with and how to control it. We typically research three different sources before we take action."

However, the job of the Haz-mat team is to contain the situation, they are not responsible for cleaning it up.

"A lot of people think that we pick up and haul away the chemical spill, but we don't. They need to get a contractor that will do that, and we will stay on scene to make sure they are doing it safely."

The Haz-mat team can do a lot for the community, and Faust feels that by having this unit so close to home can only help citizens.

"It's easily deployed to any incident within the city limits. I think the citizens benefit by having this equipment in the city."

 

Battalion Chief Leon Faust explains the equipment within their trailer. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)

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