Hazardous Materials Heroes compete at HazMat Challenge

Team competes at Haz Mat Challenge
Friday, August 23, 2019 - 1:59pm

Joel Wood judges at HazMat challengeThe annual South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo (SAFRE) is being held at Raleigh’s Convention Center this year, where fire departments from around the state come to network, check out new equipment, learn in workshops and participate in the HazMat Challenge.

Joel Wood, Area 9 Coordinator with North Carolina Emergency Management is serving as a HazMat challenge judge. In the challenge, HazMat teams compete in a two-part competition that combines analytical skills and hands-on performance. Before joining NCEM, Wood retired as the HazMat Coordinator with the Greensboro Fire Department, so he’s a well-qualified judge.

“Everyone who participates in this competition is required to be able to answer analytical questions ranging from terminology, to research and monitoring and more,” Wood said. “In addition to having to know all things HazMat, they have to be able to put that knowledge practical use containing leaks and other hands-on skills.”

The competitors in the challenge come from around the state, with a majority of them falling under the umbrella of state regional hazmat teams. The NC Hazardous Materials Regional Response Program consists of seven regional response teams (RRTs) strategically located in the state. They respond to incidents that exceed local capabilities.

Justin Graney, State Hazardous Materials Manager at NC Emergency Management, explains that the teams can provide technical support, manpower, specialized equipment and supplies to assist local resources when needed. If they are asked to respond to the scene, these teams will provide assistance with mitigating the incident.

“All of the hazmat teams in North Carolina bring a lot of knowledge and skills to the table, and this competition helps to highlight their capabilities, while also providing them with an opportunity to network and learn from other technicians around the state. North Carolina is a leader nationally in hazardous materials response and this event showcases that expertise each year. The North Carolina Association of Hazardous Materials Responders does an outstanding job year after year,” Graney said.

Last year, the Raleigh Fire Department, NCRRT-4, won the competition, while Concord Fire Department took second and Asheville Fire Department, NCRRT-6 took third.