Feds push new hazardous materials guidelines for emergency responders

Police officers, fire fighters and paramedics who are oftentimes the first to respond to emergency situations would receive special training to handle situations in which hazardous materials are spilled, federal officials said Friday.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is updating the Emergency Response Guidebook with new guidelines and best practices for emergency responders.

The agency will release the new edition of the Emergency Response Guidebook in 2016, and the agency said Friday it is looking for feedback from emergency responders about how it can improve the safety recommendations.

Since 1980, the agency has required that all emergency responders have access to the Emergency Response Guidebook. In all, it has distributed more than 13 million copies.

The agency is responsible for regulating the transportation of hazardous materials. The agency said the purpose of the new guidelines is to "increase public safety by providing consistent emergency response procedures for hazardous materials incidents in North America."

The agency is working with Canadian and Mexican officials to improve standards.