Hazardous Materials – Spills or Releases

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A hazardous material, by definition, is "any element, compound or substance that poses an unreasonable risk to health or property and which, because of handling, storage, processing or packaging, may have detrimental effects on emergency personnel, the public, equipment and/or the environment."

The City Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue  has a Hazardous Materials Response Team (HazMat), which has been operational since 1979. The most common types of calls the Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue HazMat team responds to involve acid spills, gasoline spills, chemical spills, and chlorine and vapor leaks. Common household calls often involve BBQ grill propane tanks and natural or propane gas leaks in pipes or appliances.

What to Do in a Hazardous Materials Incident

  • If you witness a hazardous materials incident, call 911.
  • Avoid the incident site to minimize risk of contamination.
  • If you are caught outside during an incident, try to stay upstream, uphill, and upwind.
  • If you are in a car, close the windows and shut off ventilation.
  • Follow instructions given by emergency authorities.
  • Listen to news media for instructions.

An organization within South Florida formed to encourage and support emergency planning for response to chemical accidents and incidents, and to provide local government and the public with information about possible chemical hazards in our community is The Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). The LEPC is a partnership of community, government, business and industry to make our environment chemically safe using the guidelines of the Federal Government's Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA). The committee’s responsibilities are to:

  • Develop an Emergency Plan.
  • Collect and store information provided by facilities involved in chemical activities.
  • Make that information available to the public.

Contact your Local Emergency Planning Committee for additional information.