Protecting the Pentagon

  The Pentagon, located in Arlington County, VA, is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense and the world's largest office building in terms of square footage — 6.5 million square feet, of which 3.7 million is used for offices. The building...


  The Pentagon, located in Arlington County, VA, is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense and the world's largest office building in terms of square footage — 6.5 million square feet, of which 3.7 million is used for offices. The building has five floors above ground and two below...


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The largest vehicle in the CBRNE fleet is a 2003 International 7400/KME hazmat squad that carries large items, including bulk supplies, additional technical decon equipment, additional personal protective equipment (PPE), mitigation supplies and rehab equipment and provides a command/research area. The 2002 GMC Mobile Analytical Laboratory is used to perform on-site analysis of samples using benchtop gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and biological sample analysis. This vehicle was originally outfitted for the National Guard Civil Support Teams and carries the same types of equipment. The remaining response vehicles are Chevrolet Suburbans of various years. One Suburban contains a command module for the hazmat branch officer or incident commander to perform incident command and accountability functions. Part of the CBRNE division is the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit, which is the only civilian bomb squad in the U.S. Army.

One of the many assets maintained by the CBRNE division is a Remotec MK3 Mod 0 robot provided by the Hazardous Devices Division. The robot is currently being outfitted with monitoring equipment for chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals/toxic industrial materials (TICs/TIMs) and radiological materials. The robot will be used to survey an incident prior to team members making an entry. This will allow the gathering of basic atmospheric readings, enhance incident size-up and assist in the selection of PPE. The robot will also be used to provide video and audio from the "hot zone" to the command post. The robot can also be used to haul equipment into the "hot zone," reducing the workload of responders wearing PPE.

The CBRNE division uses a wide variety of hazmat research materials that are common to all response teams. Electronic resources include the HazMaster G3, COBRA and WISER software. Monitoring equipment used by the CBRNE division includes:

  • Chemical — MultiRAE, Ppb RAE 3000, Area RAE, ChemPRO 100, LCD 3.3, Miniwarn, Colorimetric Tubes, pH paper, potassium iodide starch paper, M-8 Paper, M-9 Tape, HazCat Kit
  • Analytical — Hapsite, Griffin 450 GC/MS, HazMat ID
  • Biological — Bio-Check 20/20, Handheld Assays, Razor
  • Radiological — Identifinder, Raider, Ludlum, AN/UDR-14, Polymaster GN Pager

Initial-entry instruments are carried in black suitcases for easy access during an emergency. Those instruments include Ludlum and accessories; Miniwarn and pump attachment; Chempro 100; digital camera; MultiRAE; Identifinder; plus additional batteries, chargers and consumables.

Chemical protective suits used by the CBRNE division are Trellchem by Trellborg for Level A and Tyvec F for Level B. They also carry military Saratoga and Lanx chemical protective overgarments. The Saratoga suit employs spherical carbon technology to provide effective body protection from all known chemical/biological warfare agents. LANX Fabric Systems use a technology of polymerically encapsulated activated carbon, a new and unique technology that provides extremely uniform carbon distribution and chemical protection. Respiratory protection used for chemical suits are Scott self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and M40 APR masks and powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs). In-suit communications are provided by Scott Envoy Radiocom system.

Much of the infrastructure inside the Pentagon for communications, monitoring and security is secret. Photography is not allowed except for the interior 911 Memorial and the Medal of Honor room. Fixed monitors for chemical radiological and biological agents are very advanced and extremely sensitive. Portable instrumentation can identify any unknown substance.

Major hazmat exposures include the swimming pool, heating and cooling systems, and the fuel farm on the east side of the Pentagon Reservation. Terrorist or criminal acts may present a wide range of threats involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive materials. All commercial vehicles entering the Pentagon Reservation are screened for CBRNE materials. Additionally, 100% of the mail sent to the Pentagon is screened.

Most common chemicals found in any city would also likely be found in the Pentagon as part of daily operations at the facility, transportation hub and parking lot. The majority of responses at the Pentagon involve suspicious letters and packages or those containing white powder. Protests are common at the Pentagon and during such events the CBRNE team establishes a decontamination capability as a precaution. Any mitigation or clean-up that may be required as a result of a hazmat or CBRNE event is conducted by the Pentagon Safety Office. Pentagon police will determine whether a response by the CBRNE division is required. If environmental issues arise, the CBRNE division works with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional teams and is assisted by the EPA for environmental crimes. Mutual aid is provided by the Arlington County Fire Department.