Ontario Fire Department continues to help Oregon Fire Marshal with hazmat emergency response

This Hazmat trailer, which doubled as the incident command center for the Malheur County Solar Eclipse Emergency Management System during the solar eclipse, sits inside the Ontario Fire Station in August of 2017.

ONTARIO — The Ontario City Council authorized Mayor Riley Hill and Fire Chief Terry Leighton to sign an intergovernmental agreement with the Oregon State Fire Marshal under which the Ontario Fire Department provides hazardous materials emergency response services. The council approved the action at its work session Wednesday, a day ahead of its normal meeting time because of the July Fourth holiday.

The Ontario Fire Department, which is designated HM14, has already been providing hazardous materials response since 1994; the council approved a recently expired contract in November of 2017.

The response team’s area includes most of southeastern Oregon — Malheur, Baker and Harney counties and the southern portion of Grant County, including John Day and Prairie City. It responds to any type of spill or accidental release of an unknown or hazardous material, according to the contract.

The state provides many hours of training, more than $600,000 of equipment which the city would have to return if the agreement with the state was terminated, plus physicals for crew members, the agenda report reads. The state also pays for any response time.

Chief Leighton said about 50 hours of extra training locally is required for the fire department members as well as additional training at conferences.

The city stores the equipment, provides upkeep and supplies the fuel, Leightton confirmed, as well as provides the insurance.

Equipment includes a semi-truck and trailer, a suburban with a trailer and a flat-bed truck, Leighton said.

The department averages about four to six hazardous materials responses a year, he said, adding that the city pays for the costs up front and is then reimbursed by the state.

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