The department received a critical software upgrade to its HazMatID system about one month ago.
The $14,000 upgrade, known as the 360, speeds up identification time, includes a larger library of substances and provides the Regional Response Team with a secure Bluetooth connection for communicating while in the field.
"With hazardous materials there are so many unknowns," said Scott Rounds, Support Services Battalion Chief with the fire department.
The upgrade will help the team respond more effectively to any situation involving potentially hazardous materials, Rounds said.
Funding for the upgrade came from a $30,000 Department of Homeland Security grant awarded in 2011. City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to approve receipt of the $14,000 in grant funds at a 7 p.m. Meeting today.
The HazMatID system and the 360 upgrade are both made by Smiths Detection, a division of an international technology firm based in the United Kingdom.
The system uses a Fourier transform infrared spectroscope to identify more than 32,000 different substances, according to the company's website.
"Our hazardous materials unit is one of the best funded in terms of training and equipment in the region," said Mayor Tommy Roberts. "This (upgrade) allows them to do their job (more effectively)."