Firefighters often deal with hazardous materials (Hazmat) identification whether they are chemicals, WMD, or radioactive sources. Flammable and potentially explosive chemicals are especially challenging. As chemical identification becomes more complex, the need for non-contact, non-destructive analysis is greater than ever. There are several tools a firefighter can use to improve response in the danger zone.
Portable analyzers for chemical and explosives identification can quickly verify the contents of drums, bags, bottles and more directly in the chemical hazard zone. Firefighters can use these instruments to identify a broad range of unknown chemicals and explosives in the field quickly, safely, and confidently using FTIR and Raman spectroscopy.
Chemical Identification analyzers using Raman can recognize thousands of potential explosives as well as explosive precursors in liquid mixtures. (Raman spectroscopy is a technology that enables users to safely analyze explosive materials through sealed translucent containers without disturbing the sample.) To aid in identification, the device collects the molecular fingerprint of an unknown sample, and then compares the substance against the onboard chemical library, typically providing results in a matter of seconds. Raman instruments excel at identifying liquids, gels, pastes and light colored solid materials. (Raman technology utilizes a focused laser, which can heat some energetic materials, so proper safety protocols should be followed to ensure operator safety. Read more: Explosives Identification Using Raman Technology.)
FTIR spectrometers are exceptionally useful for identifying unknown chemicals of a variety of colors. They will not generate heat during the sampling process, which makes it an ideal tool for verifying substances such as: smokeless powders and colored materials, (Read more: Explosives Identification Using FTIR Technology.)
For firefighters who are part of hazmat teams investigating potentially explosive atmospheres, intrinsically safe personal radiation detectors that meet the latest ATEX standards should be used. These radiation detection instruments can help detect radiation contamination at critical infrastructure so the hazmat team can secure the area from orphaned, unknown, and hidden radioactive threats.
If you’re looking for grant preparation help to purchase portable analyzers for chemical and explosives identification, you can get free grant assistance. Take advantage of the help to strengthen your department’s threat detection capabilities including handheld instruments for quickly identifying unknown solid and liquid chemicals, personal handheld radiation meters, and radiation detection backpacks. These analyzers – and sustainment on existing equipment – are eligible for funding.