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Incident Frequency/Risk Model

HR

LF

HR

HF

LR

LF

LR

HF

High-Frequency, Low-Risk Incidents

Throughout the fire service, including hazmat response, we strive to do things right. In spite of the complexity and variety of the tasks we are called upon, we usually do them right. This increases personnel safety, limits liability, increases respect and improves customer service. Most of the tasks we perform in the fire service on a daily basis we are really good at doing. We would call those High Frequency (HF) Low Risk (LR) tasks. For example, flammable liquid and fuel incidents make up 50% of all hazardous materials incidents nationally. These are HF/LR incidents because we do them on a regular basis. Hazards and quantities of these types of incidents are limited, so the risk in dealing with them is low. Even if mistakes occur with HF/LR tasks, the consequences are usually not significant. Things you do all the time generally do not cause problems.

Low-Frequency, Low-Risk Incidents

Low Frequency (LF), Low Risk (LR) incidents should not be of concern because the consequences and likelihood are relatively low. Incidents involving radioactive materials would be an example. Design of transportation containers and regulations affecting storage of radioactive materials make the chance of encounters with them very remote.

High-Frequency, High-Risk Incidents

Houston's hazmat team is located in the petrochemical capital of the world. They are a dedicated team; hazmat response and preparation is all they do. "Exotic" chemicals are considered high-frequency incidents in Houston compared to other jurisdictions. Common chemicals that are the killers are considered high-frequency incidents in Houston. Hazmat responders in Houston are used to dealing with these types of events and are able to handle them with a minimum of risk because they do it all the time. As I mentioned earlier, things we do all the time, we usually do pretty well. If, however, errors are made, the consequence is great.

Hazmatology Point: North Platte Nebraska population about 25,000 does not have a dedicated hazmat team. Team members respond to fires, EMS and other types of calls. On an annual basis, they respond to an average of 52 hazmat calls that include fuel spills, odor complaints, gas leaks and regional response. They do not have high-frequency, high-risk incidents. High frequency high risk incidents only occur in areas where there are high volumes of high-risk hazardous materials. Few departments across the country have to deal with HR/HR incidents on a regular basis, or most cases will never have to deal with them.

 
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