Hazardous Materials

Incidents involving hazardous materials are often referred to as Chemical, Biological or Radiological (CBR) incidents or HazMat incidents.

These incidents are not very common. However, they have the potential to be highly damaging to health and the environment if they do occur.

The following advice provides basic guidance on what to during a hazardous materials incident.

Step 1 – Early warnings

Hazardous materials incidents are usually the result of an accident, therefore if you are in the immediate vicinity when an incident involving hazardous materials takes place, there is likely to be little or no warning.

If a large hazardous materials incident occurs that potentially has a wide-spread affect, it is likely that updates will be broadcast on the news and radio.

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Step 2 – Be prepared

The following steps can help you prepare for and respond to hazardous materials emergencies:

  • Know your chemicals – familiarise yourself with Hazchem Codes (external link) which are used to label hazardous materials. If you have any chemicals that may be dangerous ensure you store them out of reach from children and in a safe environment.
  • If you come across something you suspect to be a chemical spillage do not approach it - call 999 and request the Fire Brigade.
  • If there is a hazardous materials incident in your local area you may be asked to remain indoors. See our Preparing for an emergency page for further information.
  • Alternatively, you may be advised to evacuate your home. For more information on what to do if advised to evacuate see our evacuating your home page.
  • Never try to clean up a chemical spillage yourself - leave it for the professionals.

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External guidance

In any incident involving Hazardous Materials, the Fire Brigade will most likely lead the response.

If you would like to find out more about how the Fire Brigade respond to a these incidents, see the GOV.UK website: Hazardous Materials - Operational guidance (external link).

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Page last updated:

April 22, 2022

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