Hazardous Materials Training

Hazardous Materials Training

The Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency often fields inquiries on hazardous materials and incident command training. All requests for hazardous materials and incident command training should be initiated through the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center at 717-537-4190.

Annual Hazardous Materials Refresher Training

Annual hazardous materials refresher training is a question often posed to our office. OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 29 CFR 1910.120 is the authority that establishes initial and refresher hazardous materials training for personnel who may encounter or operate at a hazardous materials incident. Section 1910.120(q)(6) addresses training and responder levels. These requirements too are mirrored in the EPA 40CFR Part 311. OSHA 1910.120(q)(6) prescribes training and training levels as defined below. For each level are specific training competencies.

Training. Training shall be based on the duties and function to be performed by each responder of an emergency response organization. The skill and knowledge levels required for all new responders, those hired after the effective date of this standard, shall be conveyed to them through training before they are permitted to take part in actual emergency operations on an incident. Employees who participate, or are expected to participate, in emergency response, shall be given training in accordance with the following paragraphs:

First responder awareness level. First responders at the awareness level are individuals who are likely to witness or discover a hazardous substance release and who have been trained to initiate an emergency response sequence by notifying the proper authorities of the release. They would take no further action beyond notifying the authorities of the release.

First responder operations level. First responders at the operations level are individuals who respond to releases or potential releases of hazardous substances as part of the initial response to the site for the purpose of protecting nearby persons, property, or the environment from the effects of the release. They are trained to respond in a defensive fashion without actually trying to stop the release. Their function is to contain the release from a safe distance, keep it from spreading, and prevent exposures.

Hazardous materials technician. Hazardous materials technicians are individuals who respond to releases or potential releases for the purpose of stopping the release. They assume a more aggressive role than a first responder at the operations level in that they will approach the point of release in order to plug, patch or otherwise stop the release of a hazardous substance.

Hazardous materials specialist. Hazardous materials specialists are individuals who respond with and provide support to hazardous materials technicians. Their duties parallel those of the hazardous materials technician; however, those duties require a more directed or specific knowledge of the various substances they may be called upon to contain. The hazardous materials specialist would also act as the site liaison with Federal, state, local and other government authorities in regard to site activities.

Each level has minimum training hours as specified in the Minimum Standards of Accreditation (MSA) developed by the Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner (OSFC).

In addition to the initial training, OSHA 1910.120(q)(8)(i) also mandates annual refresher training as defined below:

"Those employees who are trained in accordance with paragraph (q)(6) shall receive annual refresher training of sufficient content and duration to maintain their competencies or shall demonstrate competency in those areas at least yearly." In addition, "A statement shall be made of the training or competency, and if a statement of competency is made, the employer shall keep a record of the methodology used to demonstrate competency."

According to the OSFC MSA’s, the following initial and annual refresher training hours are established for each training level:

Responder Level Initial Annual

  • Fire Responder Awareness 4-hour initial class; 2-hour annual refresher
  • First Responder Operations 24-hour initial class; 6-hour annual refresher

The full text of OSHA 1910.120 can be found here.


Along with HAZMAT training, another frequent topic is certification. The purpose of certification is to identify and recognize emergency service personnel whose accomplishments in training and education meets or exceeds nationally recognized standards. The NFPA standards for Fire Service Professional Qualifications identify the minimum requirements for a person at a particular level of progression. A person certified to one of the Fire Service Professional levels will have demonstrated competency in the knowledge and skills required to perform at a particular level. The service that can be offered to the citizens, visitors and communities of the Commonwealth will be enhanced by the professional competency attained through this certification process. For more information on certification, please visit here.

Certification does not supersede annual refresher training. Therefore, regardless of if a responder has a professional board certification in a given hazardous materials response level, annual refresher training still applies.


Emergency service agencies often inquire about response cost recovery for costs incurred during a hazardous materials incident. PA Act-165 is the authority for response cost recovery. It should be carefully studied for applicable incidents and costs. Section 210 of Act-165 describes recovery of response costs.

In 1999, the Lancaster County Fire Chief’s Association and HAZMAT 2 Environmental Fire & Rescue Company developed a Fee Schedule to guide development of response cost recovery invoices. It is suggested that entities seeking response cost recovery after a hazardous materials incident coordinate invoicing.


Through grant funds LEMA will pay for the tuition costs of hazardous materials training programs for public safety emergency service agencies. Costs for books and supplies are not included. Agencies the following the sponsorship parameters will not be billed for the registration costs. Agencies only have to complete and forward the training form.  All other registration documentation will be completed by the LCPSTC. Minimum student roster requirements apply which is outlined in the program guidance


In 2009, the HMPD developed a training program targeted to fire departments on interpreting Tier II reports and explaining why some facilities report hazardous chemical and other do not; and why some chemicals are reported and others not. The 2-hour program entitled First Due Chemical Intelligence also reviews the purpose, intent, capabilities and limitations of the Off-Site Emergency Response Plans which are distributed to local emergency services for use during an emergency. Each offering is customized to the host department. The program also is revised annually to reflect reporting and planning changes. A certificate of attendance is issued to each student. This program is updated annually to reflect reporting and planning changes.

Past program deliveries were sponsored by the following agencies:

  •      Lancaster Bureau of Fire (All 4 Platoons)
  •      Lititz Fire Company
  •      Manheim Township Fire Rescue
  •      West Hempfield Fire & Rescue Co.
  •      Upper Leacock Fire Company
  •      Elizabethtown Fire Department

In 2015, the HMPD developed a training program targeted to fire departments on understanding, navigating through, and utilizing the county-developed Crude Oil Unit Train (COUT) Plan. The training program is approximately 2-hours Crude Oil Unit Train Emergencies is customized to the host fire department's first due area.

Past deliveries were sponsored at the following agencies:

  •      West Hempfield Fire & Rescue Co.
  •      Bainbridge Fire Company
  •      Blue Rock Fire Rescue
  •      Robert Fulton Fire Company
  •      Marietta Pioneer Fire Company

In 2016, the HMPD developed a training program targeted to fire department in understanding, navigating through and utilizing the county-developed Transmission Pipeline (TRAP) Emergencies Plan. The training program is approximately 1.5 hours and is customized for the host fire department. 

Past deliveries of were sponsored at the following agencies:

  •      West Hempfield Fire & Rescue Company
  •      Upper Leacock Fire Company
  •      White Horse Fire Company
  •      East Hempfield Township Emergency Services (East Petersburg Fire Co., Hempfield Fire Department, Rohrerstown Fire Company)