In October of 1973 a resident found a desk sized metal container in a vacant lot in Belmont and decided it would make a nice barbeque. While utilizing the container for such, it began releasing a strange gas and the resident called the Belmont Fire Department. As a result, twenty-seven firefighters were hospitalized for exposure to what ended up being a now banned chemical known as Methyl Bromide.
As a result of subsequent toxic accidents including an explosive fire at a local paint factory, Belmont Fire Battalion Chief Jim O’Donnell launched the Industrial Emergency Council (IEC), a non-profit organization that trains firefighters, police officers and employees of private companies throughout the state in hazardous materials response, emergency preparedness, rescue and other skills. In 1986 the first San Mateo County Hazardous Materials Team was formed and began operating out of Belmont Fire Station 14.
Today, the Hazardous Materials Program continues to provide a team of trained Hazardous Materials Specialists & Technicians who are capable of responding to and managing HazMat emergencies and potential bio-terrorism threats throughout San Mateo County, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. For more details on this program click here.