The Santa Monica Fire Department expects to receive a new hazardous materials — hazmat — response vehicle within a year that will help the department respond better to emergencies and potential acts of terrorism, fire chief Jim Hone said.

The fire department will receive the new hazmat vehicle based on a grant from the Urban Area Security Initiative, which provides funding to cities to help reduce their vulnerability to terrorist attacks, the chief said.

The Santa Monica City Council voted Tuesday, March 22nd, to award a $483,763 bid to manufacturer SVI Trucks of Loveland, Colorado for the purchase of the new hazardous materials vehicle.

Hazardous materials vehicles are used by the department to respond to incidents such as large hazardous material gas leaks and chemical spills.

The fire department currently uses a hazmat truck that dates from 1995, but the vehicle is undersized and can no longer carry the necessary personnel and equipment, Hone said.

“It can’t carry the equipment and it doesn’t have on board the technical system for response to weapons of mass destruction and day-to-day hazardous materials response,” he said.

Hazmat vehicles, which are “similar to a large motor home,” house fire department personnel while they test materials and do data research, he said.

The new hazmat vehicle has more storage capacity and a larger area for technical reference, he said.

Other new features of the hazmat truck include a video camera on a large telescope mast used to observe incidents from a distance, on-board computers and a bathroom, he said.

Although hazmat trucks don’t carry a hose or ladder, as a fire engine does, the trucks can still be used to respond to fires by testing the air of a building on fire, Hone said.

The fire department will also receive a new ladder truck after the Santa Monica City Council approved the purchase last month because one of the department’s ladder trucks failed an inspection test.

Hone said the fire department hopes to receive both of the new vehicles within a year.

The hazmat truck would be stored at Fire Station No. 3, 1302 19th St.

“Both of these vehicles are necessary for us to be as prepared as possible to respond to the day-to-day emergencies and potential acts of terrorism,” Hone said.

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