Arizona holds CBRN simulation

A significant emergency chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials training drill was conducted in the Phoenix region on December 13.

Twenty-nine firefighters were in attendance from nine different cities at the drill.

At the Tempe Fire Training Center, firefighters responded to a simulated distress call concerning two boys that were playing with a yellowish powder they found. In the scenario, one of the boys had developed a rash and had trouble breathing, according to Their mother alerted authorities.

The firefighters were unaware that the children had been playing with a mixture containing the rash-causing pesticide boric acid and were tasked with properly handling and identifying the substance.

To conduct the drill successfully, the firefighters had to set up a decontamination corridor before removing the three powder samples from the floor and desks of a warehouse and then run the samples through two different types of identification kits.

In the simulation, firefighters from Mesa and Peoria, Arizona utilized a Hazcat kit to determine whether the samples were toxic, reports. They used a flowchart to perform experiments on the subject, lighting it and diluting it in test tubes in order to identify it using a process of elimination.

The Hazcat kit identified the substance correctly as a mixture of boric acid, sugar, whey protein and diatomaceous earth. Tempe Fire Capt. Dan Fonseca appreciated the machine, but noted its shortcomings, including that it cannot identify mixtures well, or any materials not stored in its memory.

Fonseca said that the Phoenix region has some highly trained firefighters in the area of hazardous materials, repots. Some have even authored training manuals on the subject. The curriculum is highly detailed and regular training occurs weekly.