Decontamination: Is Water King?

BY VINCENT J. DOHERTY In 1981, I was sworn into the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and left my career in the chemical industry behind, or so I thought. In September 1984, I became a charter member of the newly formed Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Company #1, FDNY. I was one of 40 firefighters who had a desire to be part of a new exclusive unit dedicated to hazardous materials response. Fire was no longer our main focus; response to natural, accidental, or intentional chemical releases became our primary mission. If you had asked any of the firefighters or fire officers forming the company that day the definition of a chemical warfare agent (CWA) or what nerve gas1 was, only a handful w...

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