Meth Lab Response
who is responding to meth labs, and what is your invovlement on scene?
Over the last two years our FD has begun working closely with local LEO's on response to labs. The FD provides site safety, decon, and rescue while the LEO's make the actual entry.
Seems to be working well, but we are always looking for new ideas to improve safety and efficiency.
Your thoughts ...
Are your police trained to the tech level? I've seen what our cops do and their entry into a meth lab would scare me. A number of people on our team have attended the Public Safety Sampling class from LSU. That would be my recommendation that both LE and the HM team take the class together. A good public safety sample could bail out LE in a case where they botch the evidence collection.
I really think a combined approach would be best since we have the HM experience and they have the evidence collection experience. Find out what it is and let LE safely enter and collect what they need to. Don't forget Bomb squad involvement
Yes, the lead detectives are HM Techs, the remainder are trained to the operations level of NFPA 472 along with the specialized lab training. That being said, three of them think like techs (most of the time). All have been through sampling classes. Six from the FD have been through the Lab classes as well, so they understand what is happening and can better support LE. FD has three cross trained members who are also Safety Officers, along with the LE Techs they form the core group. The remainder of the response is composed of those on duty at the time of the call.
The combined approach allows us to have plan B in place and lessens the "shortcuts".
It has been a culture change for both agencies, but we are getting more efficient each time we train or run a lab.
I had two meth lab incidents in my career. Both had one thing in common. The incidents occurred at night, both structures (single family dwelling) were unoccupied. We made entry and started our initial attack and primary search. As we searched the initial living areas we determined this dwelling was being used for something other than a dwelling in the traditional sense. At that point in time I made the decision to withdraw personnel and go defensive if necessary. In both cases the fires self extinguished. After withdrawing from the structure we immediately set up to do structure protection for the neighbors if necessary. We also notified the local LEO's and Haz-Mat teams to respond.
Originally Posted by twohats
We did not face any unusual obstacles like booby traps or pets. Specifically dogs trained to protect the premises.
Contact Jake Kelton of MERIT Training. He is a retired PA State Police Clan-Lab scientist/chemist. He has been doing some EXCELLENT meth lab combined training programs, and is now setting up a lab cleanup and evidence collection class for the fire service.
I'm familiar with jake and have set through his classes. Good stuff. He is also advocate for multi-agency response.
I am just curious how agencies are handling labs around the country. Are there more agencies that use a multi-agency response on every lab or is it LEO driven with occasional FD involvement?
I have been told that it's not uncommon for some agencies to send officers into a lab with limited or no PPE and no FD backup. Is this normal or the exception?