Linn County Hazardous Materials Response Team

The Linn County Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team falls under the budgetary direction of the Linn County Emergency Management Agency. The Hazardous Materials Team is comprised of both volunteers and career personnel who train together to mitigate hazardous situations throughout Linn County.

The Linn County Hazardous Materials Response team was founded in 1978 and began serving the citizens of Linn County.  In 1996 Linn County Hazardous Materials Team signed its first agreement to cover Benton County for response protection.  Currently the Linn County Regional Team has response contracts with nine counties in eastern Iowa: Benton, Buchanan, Half of Cedar, Clayton, Delaware, Fayette, Iowa, Jones and Linn.  The Linn County Regional HAZMAT Team currently provides services covering 5,864 square miles, which includes a population of 366,770, 113 incorporated cities, approximately 35 miles of the Mississippi river, 325 miles of US Interstate/Highways and 301 miles of railroads.

Hazardous materials pose a real and potentially disastrous threat to the citizens of Linn County.  Hazardous materials incidents may include, but are not limited to, responses involving fires, spills, transportation accidents, chemical reactions and explosions. Associated hazards involved may include toxicity, flammability, radiological, corrosives, explosives, health, or any combination of these items.

Linn County is proactive in both planning and emergency response relative to hazardous materials incidents, as well as potential terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.

If you are interested in joining the Linn County Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team please contact Chief Tom Ulrich at or 319-892-6502

  • Team members are required to attend 2.5 hour meeting/training monthly and 2 – 4 hour trainings per year.


Chemicals and Hazardous Materials

Chemicals are found everywhere. They purify drinking water, increase crop production, and simplify household chores. But chemicals also can be hazardous to humans or the environment if used or released improperly. Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use, or disposal. You and your community are at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment where you live, work, or play.

There are 183 facilities located throughout Linn County that because of the volume or toxicity of the materials on site are designated as Tier Two facilities under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act. Of those facilities 100 have reported that they are storing EPA/SARA Title III, Extremely Hazardous Substances (EHS).

Most of the hazardous materials incidents are localized and are quickly contained or stabilized by the highly trained fire departments and hazardous materials teams.  Depending on the characteristic of the hazardous material or the volume of product involved, the affected area can be as small as a room in a building or as large as 5 square miles or more.  Many times, additional regions outside the immediately affected area are evacuated for precautionary reasons.  More widespread effects occur when the product contaminates the municipal water supply or water system such as a river, lake, or aquifer.

When managed properly under regulations, hazardous materials pose little risk.  However, when handled improperly or in the event of an accident, hazardous materials can pose a significant risk to the population.  Hazardous materials incidents usually occur very rapidly with little or no warning.  Even if reported immediately, people in the area of the release have very little time to be warned and evacuated. During some events, sheltering in-place is the best alternative to evacuation because the material has already affected the area and there is no time to evacuate safely.  Public address systems, television, radio, and the NOAA Weather Alert Radios are used to disseminate emergency messages about hazardous materials incidents.

Shelter Safety for Sealed Rooms
Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide build-up for up to 5 hours, assuming a normal breathing rate while resting.

However, local officials are unlikely to recommend the public shelter in a sealed room for more than 2-3 hours because the effectiveness of such sheltering diminishes with time as the contaminated outside air gradually seeps into the shelter. At this point, evacuation from the area is the better protective action to take.

Also you should ventilate the shelter when the emergency has passed to avoid breathing contaminated air still inside the shelter.