Virginia county acquires CBRN response vehicle

Fire officials in Prince William County, Virginia, have debuted a new 42,740 pound, 33 foot long vehicle known as the Hazmat 506 unit to replace an older, smaller truck.

The new unit now has the space for multiple tools used to identify, detect and contain substances, including chemical warfare agents, acids, radiation, gasses and bacteria such as anthrax. The truck can now fit all of the items the William County fire and rescue department requires, including full-body chemical protection suits, Inside Nova reports.

"We'd have to leave equipment at the station," Kurt Heindrichs, the battalion chief, said, according to Inside Nova. "It'd cause difficulties because the unit was so small, we had a hard time putting people in it when crews would put their (gear) on their backs."

The new unit also has an eight-by-five foot room that includes computer monitors to research hazardous materials while in the field.

"The new indoor research area helps us get a cleaner and more accurate sample," Thomas Denner, the manager of the hazmat team, said, according to Inside Nova. "It gives our capabilities a quantum leap in what we're now able to do."

The county bought the unit from Manassas fire and rescue officials for $243,000, with an additional $26,800 spent on ancillary equipment. The team expects to use the unit on 160 to 200 calls annually.