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PITTSBURGH'S ADVANCED HAZMAT TEAM RECEIVES FIRST FULL STATE CERTIFICATION

 PITTSBURGH'S ADVANCED HAZMAT TEAM
 RECEIVES FIRST FULL STATE CERTIFICATION
 HARRISBURG, Pa., March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The City of Pittsburgh's Hazardous Materials Response Team is the first in the state to be awarded full state certification by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council, according to Lt. Gov. Mark S. Singel.
 In addition, Singel said Pittsburgh's Gold Team, which received provisional state certification with Allegheny County's four other hazmat teams earlier this year, is also the first in the state to be certified as an advanced team.
 "My congratulations to the Allegheny County Commissioners, Mayor Masloff, county Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Kroner, Public Safety Director Glen Canon, and Chief Bob Full of the Gold Team and his staff for their long-standing commitment to a comprehensive hazardous materials protection program," said Singel, council chairman.
 The team is certified under the Hazardous Materials Emergency Planning and Response Act of 1990, which was developed by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to create a comprehensive hazardous materials emergency preparedness program at the state and county level.
 Among other provisions of the law, each county is required to ensure appropriate emergency coverage by a certified hazmat team. In response to numerous serious train derailments and other hazmat incidents over the past several years, Allegheny County, with the City of Pittsburgh, developed five hazmat teams.
 Singel said it is essential for hazmat teams to meet minimum training, equipment and organizational standards to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of the community through proper response actions.
 The lieutenant governor noted that prior to this state law and new federal regulations, hazmat team members had difficulty getting insurance coverage because there were no standards against which the insurance industry could develop actuarial tables.
 "Certification compliance will make insurance protection and workman's compensation available and affordable for the team members, many of whom volunteer their services," Singel said.
 PEMA Director Joseph L. LaFleur said that state certification of hazmat teams is based upon successful documentation of skills, physical examinations, member training, equipment requirements and on-site inspection. Heavy emphasis is placed on ensuring personal as well as community safety in reviewing an applicant's submission for certification.
 LaFleur said under the new law certified teams may recover response costs from the responsible party. Also state certified teams -- including private sector teams operating as agent for the county -- have civil liability protection for actions undertaken on behalf of the county in response to a hazmat emergency.
 According to LaFleur, PEMA has received 30 applications from hazmat teams for provisional state certification. Of that number, 26 are county-based, two are commercial clean-up contractors, one is an industrial site team and one is a military unit.
 The teams awarded provisional certification earlier this year were Allegheny County's Blue, Green, Red and Silver regional hazmat teams that consist of volunteer emergency service personnel from across the county and the Gold hazmat team staffed by City of Pittsburgh emergency responders.
 In 1991, the council also awarded provisional state certification to teams in Beaver, Berks, Cambria, Cumberland, Fayette, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland counties, and the City of Philadelphia
 Provisional state certification was effective through March 5. Hazmat teams must now apply for regular certification.
 -0- 3/13/92
 /CONTACT: Veronica Varga, 717-787-3300, or John Comey, 717-783-8150, both of Commonwealth News Bureau/ CO: City of Pittsburgh; Allegheny County; Pennsylvania Governor's
 Office ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


DM -- PG003 -- 7876 03/13/92 14:39 EST
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Date:Mar 13, 1992
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