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Newstead and Maldon groups visited by VicPol
In October Newstead and Maldon groups invited Victoria Police to Campbells Creek Fire Station for a presentation about clandestine (secret) drug laboratories. Approximately 40 brigade members sat transfixed watching a presentation about the dangers and warning signs of labs which can affect firefighters.
The presenter explained that with the volatile nature of the chemicals involved in drug making, fires can start during drug-making operations. It is usual that the owners have left the area before the brigades arrive, fleeing the scene. Occasionally, booby traps can be found around the residence (aimed at police not firefighters) and firearms may be found. It was stressed that care must be taken when entering a building where a drug lab may be found. Multiple gas bottles outside can be an early warning sign.
Some of the signs of potential clandestine labs in a building include unusual heating devices, gas bottles and scientific bottles/containers especially in lounge rooms and bathrooms.
Vic Police also showed images of labs hidden in suitcases and eskys. They are not always confined to a static building. Brigade members discovered new concerns when approaching cars at an accident.
If a clandestine lab set-up is queried, brigades should treat it as a hazmat job, wear full BA and call VicPol and ask for the Clandestine Unit. The dangers were reinforced as we watched a video from the US showing a police officer approaching a car accident only to be overcome and die from the effects of toxic fumes.
It was great to see the numbers of brigades attending and two groups working together to organise the presentation. Brigade members were appreciative of the presentation by VicPol and suggested it was valuable for all members. Drug labs are not necessarily obvious as they don’t generally have the dangerous chemicals warning signs out the front of the residence!