Hazmat teams from across North Carolina display their skills at Annual Hazmat Challenge

CarolinaFireJournal - By Glenn Clapp
By Glenn Clapp CHMM, CFPS - NC Assoc. of Hazmat Responders
01/11/2012 -

On Saturday, August 13th, seven hazardous materials teams from across the State met in Raleigh for fun, fellowship and competition in the Hazmat Challenge. The Hazmat Challenge is an annual event sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Hazardous Materials Responders (NCAHMR) and is held at the North Carolina Firemen’s Association Conference/South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo.


The 2011 challenge drew a large number of spectators and featured unprecedented sponsor involvement and prizes for the top finishing teams. The 2011 challenge was dedicated to Capt. Jeff Bowen of the Asheville Fire Dept., who lost his life in a recent line-of-duty incident; and Capt. Jackie Spoon of the Greensboro Fire Department Hazmat Team, who lost his life in a recent off-duty accident.

The Challenge — which is open to hazardous materials response organizations operating within the state — consists of four-person teams competing in a series of timed evolutions, with penalties incurred for incorrect techniques. The evolutions for the 2011 challenge were as follows:

  1. Application of Betts Product Recovery Valve
  2. Victim Removal Using Stokes Basket
  3. Assembly of Air and Radiological Monitors
  4. Location of a Radiological Source
  5. Replacement of the Rupture Disc on a Midland Pressure Vent
  6. Overpack of a Drum and Transport Using Drum Dolly
  7. Pyramid Cup Stack
  8. Sampling of Liquid Utilizing a Coliwasa Tube

Each four-person team was divided into two-person elements. The time started when the first two-person element placed their accountability tags on the starting table. Evolutions one through four were then performed, with the second two-person element entering the course and starting Evolution five when the first two-person element returned to the starting table and retrieved their accountability tags.

The second two-person element was required to place their accountability tags on the starting table prior to entering the course. The time stopped when the second two-person element fully crossed the finish line following the final evolution. The second two-person element then had to retrieve their accountability tags to avoid a penalty.

The response capabilities of the competing teams were reflected in the close results of the competition. The final standings (including the times corrected for penalties for teams one through three) were as follows:

  1. Wilmington 9:32
  2. Monroe 10:58
  3. Greensboro 11:06
  4. High Point
  5. Williamston/RRT-1
  6. Raleigh
  7. Fayetteville

In an overwhelming show of support by event sponsors, the first place team (Wilmington) received a Scott Protégé Four Gas Monitor (sponsored by Scott Safety) and will have their team name engraved on the Hazmat Challenge plaque. Teams finishing in first through fourth places received various prize packages. Prize sponsors included Smiths Detection, Scott Safety and RAE Systems. CSX Transportation also provided a scholarship to Railcar Specialist School at TTCI, Pueblo, Colorado; which was awarded to the lucky competitor selected during a drawing. Smiths Detection, Scott Safety, and MES also provided prizes that were awarded in a drawing from a list of all competitors’ names. All participants and spectators then enjoyed a lunch provided by CSX Transportation.

Other sponsors included RAE Systems and HEPACO (sponsors of a “night out” for competitors on Friday, Aug. 12), CSX Transportation (provision of water and drinks), Smiths Detection (sponsoring the venue rental), and Cool Vest (provision of a cooling station).

In addition, the National Toxic Substance Incidents Program displayed an informational booth on hazardous materials safety and handling for competitors and spectators alike. Thanks also go to Wake County Fire/Rescue and Emergency Management for logistical assistance. Special thanks go to the Raleigh Fire Department for their provision and set up of course equipment and rehabilitation.

The 2011 Challenge would not have been possible without the hard work of the Hazmat Challenge Committee, comprised of Ian Toms, A.C. Rich, Abby Moore, Greg Collins, and Jennifer McNew. Thanks also go to those serving as judges for the 2011 Challenge: Garry McCormick (Charlotte Fire Department), Abby Moore (Asheville Fire Department), and Joel Wood (Greensboro Fire Department); and to Greg Collins and Angelo Owens for serving as timekeepers.

If you have an interest in hazardous materials response, please consider joining the North Carolina Association of Hazardous Materials Responders. Both Team and Associate (Individual) Memberships are available. The NCAHMR meets quarterly and serves as the focal point for hazardous materials response professionals within the State in terms of information sharing, networking, and serving as the collective voice of hazardous materials responders in policy issues.

Visit our website at www.nchazmat.com for further information. Also feel free to attend any of the NCAHMR Quarterly Meetings as a visitor.
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