National Hazardous Materials Fusion Center officials unveiled a responder-driven data collection, analysis and education Web portal as part of a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). The portal is the central element of the Hazmat Fusion Center, a free, voluntary, confidential, and secure Web-based portal that serves as a data and information network for hazmat teams; first responders; federal, state and local agencies; and the private sector.

“We conducted workshops in all 10 FEMA regions, bringing together bother commercial and public-safety hazmat experts,” Tom Wells, IAFC program manager, said about the PHMSA and IAFC’s 2007 cooperative information-sharing agreement in 2007. “The brainstorming led to the development of the fusion center, including the regional incident survey teams and later the Web portal.”

The Internet-based portal serves as a one-stop shop for hazmat-response information, including training packages, reports, incident-based case studies, statistics, trends, alerts, recommendations and peer-to-peer networking. It was designed with a consistent method of information collection to support information-sharing across jurisdictions and levels of government and to support individual and national-level needs, Wells said.

The secure incident-reporting system is available for hazmat teams to enter, manage and analyze their own incident reports while letting the Hazmat Fusion Center create a national picture of hazmat response and disseminate regional and national hazmat trends and statistics, Wells said. Wells said there is a public and a members-only private side to the Web portal. On the public side, viewers can download ethanol and bio-diesel training packages and executive summaries of reports for free. On the private side, users can access full risk reports and online hazmat discussion forums. There also are work areas, where survey teams and executive work groups can share information, he said.

“Reports are scrubbed so readers don’t know what jurisdiction in mentioned in the report,” he said. “There’s no finger pointing involved at all. It’s all about the lessons learned and letting responders from Maine to New Mexico access information quickly.”