RADFORD – The City of Radford is the new home of a Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team that will serve southwestern and south central Virginia.
The regional team is made up of local first responders from multiple localities.
According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, such teams receive funding and training from the state “in exchange for responding as a team to hazardous materials emergencies in a specific geographical area outside of their local jurisdiction.” The Radofrd-based team is one of 13 of state-contracted team. Four of them are along the Interstate 81 corridor.
The new team will be called the New River Valley Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team and will serve the cities of Radford and Galax, as well as Bland, Carroll, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, Tazewell (north and east of Route 16) and Wythe counties. This area was previously covered by the Giles County Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team.
According to a statement from the VDEM, the state is relocating the team “to improve service due to the growth in the area along Interstate 81, around colleges and universities, and near major rail lines.”
“Moving the region’s headquarters from Giles County to Radford will decrease response times for emergencies in the area, and it will cut travel time to southern areas of the state,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “Also, the higher population surrounding the new headquarters will make it easier to recruit new team members.”
Members of the all-volunteer Giles County team, which served the area for 20 years, will continue be a part of the New River Valley team. VDEM will move some equipment to Radford, and keep some in Giles County.
“Maintaining hazmat equipment is no small task, and the Giles team members set a high standard that we’re sure the New River Valley team will continue,” said Wade Collins, deputy director for VDEM’s Technological Hazards Division and manager for Virginia’s regional hazmat teams. “Giles County Administrator Chris McClarney and Team Leader Billy McCrosky made the transition seamless, helping Radford City Manager David Ridpath and Radford City Fire Chief Lee Simpkins take on the responsibilities that they’ve held for so long.”