The City of Rogers will soon have the only fully staffed, fully operational HazMat team in Northwest Arkansas.
"It has a significant impact on our city, on our ability to respond, on the reliability of that unit, and we're ecstatic," said Chief Tom Jenkins with the Rogers Fire Department.
Jenkins said the idea has been in the making for a couple of years now. Thanks to backing from the Rogers City Council and Mayor Greg Hines, the idea is now becoming reality.
"It's every day that you have nasty chemicals going up and down the railways or the roadways... If we do get something that's leaking, a gas or a liquid that can cause some damage to life or the environment or property, we're just going to be able to take care of that situation much quicker than we would have previously."
A federal grant worth more than half a million dollars will allow Chief Jenkins' department to hire six new firefighters, willing to work the Rescue Unit.
"When an incident like that occurs, that involves hazardous chemicals or involves technical rescue, it means that instead of having to move gear from one truck to the next, we're able to respond instantly... We can't predict what will happen and what tomorrow will bring and we're not in the business of making assumptions that it'll never happen here."
The grant covers the first two years the new firefighters are on staff, and Jenkins said the city committed to keeping them on staff after those two years are up. By July, the entire region will be reaping the benefits.
"I means that we're able to send help to other communities, much easier... Everybody wins, it's not just Rogers citizens. It's Benton County, Washington County, it's anybody that could ever need the resource."
So Jenkins sees this newest addition as another step to keep people safe.
"We just want to take care of our citizens so that's what we're doing."
Before the independent crew was assembled, a regional HazMat team would respond to those calls. The team was made up of specially trained firefighters from six different departments in Northwest Arkansas. With the extreme growth in our area, Jenkins said each department began to improve their ability to respond to those calls in house. So, that is a big reason why the City of Rogers has evolved to where they are now.