Firefighting in Clandestine Drug Labs

BY JAY D. MICHAELFirefighting is dangerous, and so is hazardous materials response. Combine the two, and you see the problems with a response to a clandestine drug lab. One problem is that the lab is intentionally set up to be clandestine or secret; therefore, hazard marking systems (e.g., NFPA 704, Standard System for the Identification of the Hazards of Materials for Emergency Response, 2007 ed.; material safety data sheets; and labels) are not present. The “chemists” work hard to be deceptive and will sometimes place booby traps to prevent unwanted visitors from entering. Often, the firefighters have no idea they are operating in a clandestine lab until very late in the ope...

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