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About the Hazardous Materials Response Team (HMRT)

Releases of hazardous materials and/or hazardous waste occur daily in San Bernardino County. Most of these releases are confined to a small area, do not pose a public health threat, and are easily mitigated by the responsible party. However, releases are often more extensive, releasing chemicals into surrounding areas, threatening groundwater, closing transportation corridors, or contributing to fires or explosions. These more extensive releases require emergency response from highly trained teams.

The San Bernardino County Fire Office of the Fire Marshal Hazardous Materials Response Team (HMRT) responds to hazardous materials incidents that require control and containment, mitigation or remediation. The HMRT, which is a section within the CUPA, also assists the County District Attorney’s Office in the investigation of environmental crimes, and respond to illegal hazardous waste disposal complaints. As Deputy Health Officers, the HMRT perform multiple job duties at emergency incidents, including hazard materials identification and categorization, technical advising, entry team participation, and evacuation and re-occupancy determination.

The HMRT is composed of six Registered Environmental Health Specialists (REHS) with Bachelor degrees in various sciences (Biology, Environmental Health, Chemistry, etc.), all certified to the Hazardous Materials Specialist level by the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI). The HMRT are active members of the San Bernardino County Hazardous Materials Responders Association, an organization of Hazmat response teams from various agencies throughout the County that coordinate and train together.

sbcfire emergency vehicle

Chemical Information

As part of the Fire Department’s effort to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies of all types, the CUPA program gathers, distributes and trains response agencies throughout the County on facility chemical inventory information, including the types, quantities and hazardous properties of those chemicals onsite. The HMRT is instrumental in this type of outreach training.

HMRT members in white hazmat in front of county fire vehicle.

Hazardous Material Identification

There are several ways to identify a hazardous material:

The goal of the HMBP program is to protect both human health and the environment from the adverse effects of the storage or possible release of hazardous materials. This is done primarily by documenting significant amounts of hazardous materials so that emergency responders can effectively protect the public. HMBPs also satisfy Community Right-to-Know laws for public accessibility. Since 2013, that information has been required to be disclosed electronically in the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS). This electronic system makes it much easier for emergency responders to access the data from anywhere.

The placard, a four-sided, diamond-shaped sign, will be displayed on the trucks, railroad cars and large containers that are carrying hazardous materials. Many placards are red or orange, while a few are white or green. The placard may contain a four-digit identification number as well as a class or division number that indicates whether the material is flammable, radioactive, explosive or poisonous.

Shipping papers will have the name of the substance, the classification (such as flammable or explosive), and the four-digit identification number. With very few exceptions, the shipping papers identifying hazardous materials are required to be in the cab of a motor vehicle within the reach of the driver, in the possession of a train crew member in the engine or the caboose, in a holder on the bridge of a vessel or in the aircraft pilot’s possession.

Labels can be found on containers and packages containing hazardous materials. These may name the substance, the classification and the four-digit identification number.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are required to be developed by manufacturers for those products which contain hazardous substances. The MSDSs describe the hazardous components and the physical and chemical properties in a substance or mixture. These are important sources of data for emergency response to mixtures.

Spill Notification

The California Health and Safety Code (CHSC) requires immediate reporting of any release or threatened release of a hazardous material or actual release of a hazardous substance, as defined in section 374.8 of the penal code, to the Unified Program Agency (UPA) and to the California Office of Emergency Services (OES).

For reporting releases in San Bernardino County, call the following agencies:

  • San Bernardino County Fire Hazardous Materials (CUPA): 909-386-8425
  • California Office of Emergency Services (OES): 800-852-7550
  • 911 should also be contacted if the release results in injuries, if the spill goes offsite or into a waterway, or if it threatens public health or the environment.
  • If the release exceeds the federal reportable quantity threshold, reporting to the National Response Center (NRC) at 800-424-8802 is also required.
  • Private citizens can report illegal disposal of hazardous waste complaints anonymously to 1-800-33-TOXIC or 909-386-8430.
HMRT member (right) representing San Bernardino County Fire at the Run for Autism at San Bernardino Valley College.

Contact Us

HMRT Contact
620 South “E” Street
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0153