The Hazardous Materials Division was developed in 1999 to enhance the safety of Kansans by making trained, equipped hazardous materials teams available throughout the state. These teams support local first responders in hazardous materials incidents, accidents, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and acts of terrorism.
As of May 2015, our agency is also the coordinating agency in charge of the Kansas Search and Rescue response program.
To efficiently administer Search and Rescue in the state, these functions have been aligned with the agency’s Hazmat division which has been renamed as the Emergency Response division. The division, under leadership of Division Chief Hank DuPont, oversees coordination of responses to both hazardous material and search and rescue events in Kansas.
The kinds of search and rescues the division will coordinate are primarily building collapses, confined spaces (such as when a grain elevator employee falls into a silo) and swift water rescues during flooding.
The Emergency Response Division also coordinates with other state agencies. Strong ties exist between the State Fire Marshal's Office, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, the Kansas Highway Patrol, and the Civil Support Team. Each agency has different capabilities, teams and strengths. Unity and cooperation between these agencies provides Kansas with a more thorough and cost effective solution to emergency response.
The Haz-Mat and Search and Rescue teams exist through contracts between individual local fire departments and the Office of the State Fire Marshal. The fire departments agree to provide team members and regional response outside their local jurisdiction and the OSFM provides training and supplements equipment at no cost to the department. The OSFM also reimburses all costs associated with actual haz-mat and search and rescue responses.
Haz-Mat Response Teams
The ten regional response teams, consisting of nationally accredited hazardous materials technicians, are fully equipped to enter the area immediately surrounding the hazardous material in order to monitor the environment and mitigate the incident. The regional response teams comprise a network and are able to support each other with personnel and or equipment when needed. These teams can respond to most areas in Kansas within an hour or less in order to address haz-mat incidents and accidents as well as terrorist events involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) products.
The regional response teams are located in the following areas: Coffeyville, Colby, Emporia, Ford County, Manhattan, Overland Park, Salina, Sedgwick County, Topeka, and Wellington.
Between November of 2002 and December 2016, the regional teams responded to 199 incidents across the state of Kansas. These incidents included responses to overturned trucks, orphan drums, fuel spills, farm chemicals, train derailments, chemical fires, chlorine leaks, and unknown substances. Teams also made extended responses to the Greensburg tornado disaster in May 2007 and to the crude oil release during the Coffeyville flooding.
Search and Rescue
The goal of the OSFM's coordination of the statewide Search and Rescue program is to improve the overall search and rescue capability and response in the State of Kansas and beyond, thereby ensuring that responders at all levels are prepared to provide a coordinated response to any natural or man-made disaster.