Emergency personnel receive protective training about meth labs

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Fire Protection Specialist Victor Graves.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Fire Protection Specialist Victor Graves. Photo by Katherine Clark.

— Graves showed examples of what emergency personnel might stumble across at the scene of a fire.

“When we talk about clan labs it’s quite a bit different than the lab people think of, no beakers or specialized equipment, they are using hot plates or even two-liter soda bottles,” said Graves.

Emergency personal are told when entering a suspected clan lab to touch nothing as the reaction could be volatile.

“If you find a lab in a vehicle, don’t move it, whatever chemicals you come across in a home assume it’s dangerous as cooking meth comes with a set of reactions if not done properly,” said Graves.


Meth users have been known to set booby traps for anyone who might try to enter their lab or catch them.

“Their main concern might not be to hurt you but to help them get away and destroy evidence.”

Essex County Fire Investigator Jack Hanby said he once investigated a home fire and said the arsonist had set a booby trap to go off if someone went into the basement.

Graves said meth users themselves can be very dangerous and shared one instance where emergency personnel were called to the scene of a domestic violence dispute and a victim who was on the ground with his intestines falling out of his abdomen.

“The suspect was high and felt there were bugs all over his skin and he wanted them out, so he took a knife and did that to himself,” said Graves. “These people not only forget about their own personal safety and hygiene but forget about their own kids, putting everyone at risk and exposure to this.” 

Graves said every day there is something different to have to worry about as emergency personnel.

“I wish I could say do this and you’ll be safe, but there is no set thing anymore, you have got to kind of roll with the punches and learn to be cautious,” said Graves.

Classes are planned for Warren County and Clinton County Emergency Services at a later date.

“It’s a sad fact that we have to be prepared to handle these scenes as more and more cases of these drugs are found in our area,” said Brian LaFlure Director/Fire Coordinator of Warren County Emergency services.

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