The word HAZMAT is probably only known to insiders in the firefighting world. It is the abbreviation for the words hazardous material and means dangerous substances. This includes liquids, gases, materials, and objects that pose a risk to living organisms, public safety, or important public property.
So when we talk about a HAZMAT decontamination vehicle, we are talking about a vehicle that supports the emergency crews in decontaminating people and objects that have been contaminated by a hazardous material.

When we refer to contamination in Central Europe, we tend to think of major incidents such as Chernobyl, but fortunately the vast majority of contamination incidents happen on a much smaller scale. This ranges from the leakage of hazardous substances in research laboratories to spills during the relocation of these substances right through to minor accidents in the chemical industry. When these cases occur, decontamination is often not necessary for civilians, but much more for the emergency crews and various items of equipment. The decontamination vehicles are designed precisely for these operations. Currently, such vehicles are mainly used in Central European, Asian, and Arabian countries by plant fire departments or by large civil defence units.

In order to get an idea of the operational procedure and scope, let’s take a look at the specific characteristics of the vehicle shown: the vehicle, which is built on a MAN TGS 18.480. 4×2 chassis, is a special development which was adapted to the needs of customers and operational purposes in order to be able to load the devices and equipment necessary for decontamination into the vehicle!

The vehicle superstructure is basically divided into three areas. In the front section of the superstructure is the command room, behind it the changing/dressing and shower area and at the rear of the vehicle is where the vehicle’s technical equipment for decontamination is loaded. To make working, changing, and showering as pleasant as possible, the rooms are air-conditioned and/or equipped with an independently powered heater.

The command room enables the operation and monitoring of all systems and equipment on the vehicle. For example, the diesel-powered electricity generator with a capacity of 35 kVA, which supplies all the equipment on the vehicle with electricity, the hot water system for the decontamination system, the self-protection system on the vehicle and all the lighting can be controlled from here. In addition, the systems for environmental monitoring are also operated from here, the weather station mast for the current weather data, the video mast for an overview image of the operational scene, the gas and radiation measuring device, in order to be able to detect possible hazards, the breathing air system for the changing room, the driver’s cab and the command room for supplying the emergency crews, and the radio system for communication between the emergency crews.

In the event of contamination, a first general decontamination can be carried out outside the vehicle in a shower tent. The shower area is then entered via the right-hand side of the vehicle and exited via the left-hand side of the vehicle. In between are the changing room, the shower room itself, and finally the dressing room. In the changing room, the contaminated clothing is removed and the face and hands are cleaned at the washbasin. Full-body decontamination then takes place in the shower itself. Here, chemicals for decontamination can be added to the water depending on the contamination. The water for cleaning comes from a 1000 liter tank in the vehicle. To prevent the waste water from causing further contamination, it is collected in a separate waste water tank in the vehicle and disposed of properly after use. After the shower, new clean clothes are available in the dressing room to put on before leaving the vehicle.

A hydraulic jack prevents the vehicle from swaying during showering or when entering or exiting the shower area or command room!

In order to be able to decontaminate equipment, a hot water high-pressure cleaning system is installed at the rear of the vehicle, which can operate at a maximum temperature of 155 °C and a maximum pressure of 140 bar. Also here, chemicals can be admixed for decontamination.

To ensure that the vehicle itself can be decontaminated after use, it also has a self-protection system with 20 nozzles with which self-decontamination of the driver’s cab and the superstructure can also be carried out with the addition of chemical additives.

This broad overview of the decontamination vehicle gives an idea of the complexity of the vehicle and the subject of decontamination and shows that an overall concept that has been thought through down to the last detail is required.

Technical data

Technical details about CBS HAZMAT Decontamination vehicle