Special Operations Division
Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District
Florida Team # HM-6F


Providing a hazardous materials response to the citizens of Manatee County by mitigating chemical, biological, and WMD incidents utilizing specialized skills, protecting life and property, the environment and infrastructure.


Protecting Manatee County

In 2014, the Manatee County Public Safety Department delegated the response of Hazardous Materials incidents to the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District. This included all aspects that revolve around the four tiers of emergency response planning: response with a properly trained staff and equipment to mitigate hazardous materials emergencies, Preparedness in planning and monitoring threats in relationship of materials stored and consumed with our community, Mitigation practices that focus on life safety, protection of the environment, protection of property, and the protection of critical infrastructure. Lastly is recovery, which prepares our response for the next incident and administratively working with our community stakeholders that include public safety and industry.

Our largest focus area has been in response; since our delegation as the primary response agency inside Manatee County, our department has responded to 686 requests for assistance. In 6-years we have observed a 70% increase in services rendered to a wide host of partners that include fire districts to federal agencies. These incidents include a wide range of emergencies that such as natural gas leaks, suspected biological agent release, unexploded military ordinance, and UAS/ Drone assistance missions.

Members in training to become team hazmat technicians perform skills in the State Certification course.

SMFR personnel operate at a fuel tanker roll-over accident in Palmetto, March 2020 as Mutual Aid request.

Building a successful Type I hazmat team relies on equipment and personnel, it requires knowledge, skills, and abilities of organization.

Our team is composed of 31 Florida State Certified Hazardous Materials Technicians. Technicians are spread through the 3-shifts at SMFR. Following our response policy and procedures, equipment repair, vehicle allocation, and budgeting that composes our regional response package.

Our core values remain consistent to our mission package and strategic directions:

  1. Trained personnel with knowledge, skills, and abilities to respond to multiple disciplines of Hazardous Materials Incidents.
  2. Equipment packages following state guidelines to respond and carry out our mission statement.
  3. Response to allow us the transport of personnel and equipment as required.

Continuing to meet our first goal of trained personnel to respond to date in 2022 all department personnel completed over 2,667 hours of continuing hazardous materials response education.

County Fire Agencies attend a 2022 AR-AFF foam training provided by funding from Tampa Bay LEPC.

SMFR Hazmat Team responding to Clandestine Explosive Manufacturing production in Samoset, Florida. Over 14 samples were conducted to determine identity of all substances.

The next component is equipment needed to respond to incidents. In 2019, SMFR completed a SERC audit that assessed our policies, inventory, and training. As a result, we demonstrated our response package to a wide range of emergencies that can focus on Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear agents.

This expands our team mission to all hazards response. For example, we have paired with our partners in the Manatee County Sheriff’s department Explosive Ordnance Division, we have been called out to rapidly identify explosive materials such as illustrated in March 2020 and responded with the Florida State Fire Marshall’s office to post blast explosive device.

In addition, our department specializes in UAS/Drone operations making us a regional asset ready to deploy.


The SMFR Special Operations Team provides mission planning, operational safety, logistics, communications, hazardous materials incident planning, confined space operations, hazardous evidence collections, and fire operational support in support of the Manatee County Fire Chief’s support mission to local Emergency Management.

Deployable capabilities include:

  • Hazmat Response
  • Rapid Intervention Crew Response
  • Unmanned Aerial Monitoring
  • Confined Space Operations
  • Hazardous Evidence Collection
  • CBRNE Response
  • Medical & Health Biological Support

Investigation of radioactive medical transport containers, Sept. 2020 in Duette, Florida.


The training program develops and instructs training for personnel to safely operate within complex hazardous materials incidents for the purpose of protecting life safety, property, environment, and critical infrastructure.

The team in composed of 31 members that are Florida State Certified Firefighters, Florida State Certified Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedics, and Florida Hazardous Materials Technicians. Each member receives annual refresher training of 60 hours

Training follows nationally recognized professional standards, which include:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • National Incident Management Systems (NIMS)
  • Florida Department of Health
  • Florida State Fire College
  • Florida State Emergency Response Commission

SMFR Hazmat personnel assist with a tanker roll-over, March 2020.

SMFR C-Shift crews tackle a natural gas leak in University Park, Nov. 2020

SMFR Hazmat Team members working out a hazmat incident during annual training.

SMFR Hazmat assisting North River Fire District in conducting foam operations on a 53,000-gallon Bio-Diesel fire at the Port of Manatee in July 2018.

Skip to content