A little History Lesson on HAZMAT….

In terms of what we call a “Hazmat Team” today, I think you can call Jacksonville, FL the “1st Hazmat Team in the US”. It was organized by Capt. Ron Gore. The Houston Hazmat Team followed shortly after, going in service in September 1979. District Chief Max McRae helped organize and lead our team until he retired. I was on that team from its inception for a little over 26 years until I retired in 2005.

Following Jacksonville and Houston, several departments on the east and west coast developed teams as well as Chicago. Most of those teams came on board in the early to mid 80’s and are still around today.

Most of us are still struggling with the definition of a “Hazmat Team”. “There are only a few dedicated (that is all they do) Hazmat Teams in the larger jurisdictions around the country. Houston has been a dedicated team since the early 80’s. We started out as a Heavy Rescue/Hazmat Team, but the hazmat responses quickly got in the way of our rescue responses.

So that is a little history lesson from one of the “old guys”..

Bill Hand
Houston FD HMRT (retired)