Access to provincial resources
for CBRN response and HUSAR
The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) has recently received several
requests for information on how to access the resources of the
chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) response teams
and heavy urban search and rescue (HUSAR) teams operating under
memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the Government of Ontario
and available to respond to significant emergencies across the
In this context, significant emergency is defined as:
a large-scale or complex natural or human caused chemical,
biological radiological, or nuclear emergency, or
or complex natural or human caused heavy urban search and rescue
the need for resources to respond effectively to the situation
exceeds local capabilities, and
the municipality has declared
an emergency or is in the process of doing so.
An update on the CBRN response and HUSAR teams and a brief outline
of activation procedures are provided below.
CBRN response teams
The OFM has provided Ontario fire departments
with access to self-study training at the National Fire Protection
Association (NFPA) Standard
472 Awareness Level, that is, Level 1.
The NFPA Standard 472, Professional
Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials Incidents, covers minimum competencies of persons
responding to hazardous materials incidents and specifies three
1 or Awareness level: first responders are expected
to recognize the presence of hazardous materials, protect themselves,
trained personnel and secure the area;
2 or Operations level: persons who respond as part of initial response are expected
to respond in defensive manner to control
the release of hazardous materials from a safe distance and
keep it from spreading;
3 or Technician level: person who responds for
the purpose of controlling the release of hazardous materials
protective clothing and control equipment.
Province of Ontario currently has memorandums of understanding
with Windsor, Toronto and Ottawa. Under these agreements, teams
from the Windsor, Toronto and Ottawa fire departments are available
to respond to hazardous materials and CBRN emergencies at the NFPA
Standard 472 Technician Level. The teams are now operational and
can be deployed to incidents that fall within the category of “significant
emergency.” A minimum of 12 fire department staff members
trained to the Technician level would respond upon activation.
The Province of Ontario also has memorandums of understanding
with Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Peterborough and
Cornwall. Under these agreements, teams from the Thunder Bay, Sault
Ste. Marie, North Bay, Peterborough and Cornwall fire departments
will be capable of response at the NFPA Standard 472 Operations
Level. The Province has provided initial training and response
equipment to the teams. It is expected that the teams, which are
currently conducting internal training, will become operational
by April 1, 2004. A minimum of eight fire department staff members
trained to the Operations level would respond upon activation.
The Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto have
signed a memorandum of understanding and agreed that a Toronto
would provide a response capability to HUSAR incidents on a province-wide
basis. The City of Toronto is responsible for the training and
development of the members of the HUSAR team. Initial training
of the program instructors through various qualified outside providers
has been completed. The city’s training facility has been
expanded to enable the delivery of subsequent training at the local
The selection of additional team members begins in January 2004
and training will begin shortly after. The team is composed of
members from fire, police, and emergency medical services, and
structural engineers from the City of Toronto. Once the team has
been fully trained, approximately 70 team members will be available
to respond upon activation. The number of responders and the composition
of the team will depend on the seriousness and circumstances of
The team provided a
limited response to two significant emergencies in Toronto in
2003. As the training of the additional team members
progresses, the team’s response capability will increase.
Activating the CBRN response and HUSAR teams
Teams may be activated
through the county, district or region fire coordinator, subject
to the following conditions being met:
local municipality has responded but has insufficient resources
capability to effectively deal with or resolve the
resources available through the local county, district or region
are also insufficient to effectively
deal with or
resolve the situation.
coordinator, or alternate, for the county, district or region
has verified that the two conditions above
has declared an emergency, or is in the process of doing so.
request the assistance of the teams, the fire coordinator contacts
the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) and provides
information about the emergency, including the exact location.
Once it has
been determined by the POC that the incident in question is a “significant
emergency” and that the conditions listed above have been
met, appropriate approval will be given to deploy the resources
of one or more of the teams to the scene.
Concurrently, the POC will contact the OFM to request that its
support personnel and equipment be deployed. The POC will also
deploy the Emergency Management Ontario Provincial Emergency Response
Team (PERT) to provide advice and assistance to community officials.
If necessary and appropriate, the OPP Provincial Emergency Response
Team (PERT) will also be deployed.
Access to resources for lesser emergencies
A fire department may
have to respond to incidents that are not “significant
emergencies” but that nonetheless are beyond the fire department’s
capabilities and require additional resources. In these situations,
the fire coordinator may contact the POC. Arrangements will then
be made to contact the OFM to request technical and/or equipment
support in order to potentially resolve the situation. The OFM
may in turn request specialized technical expertise from the memorandums
of understanding partners or other sources of assistance to help
the fire department.
Emergency Operations Centre
The Provincial Emergency Operations Centre may
be reached on a 24-hour basis at (416) 314-0472 or toll free at