MIDDLEPORT — Area police officers will be better protected when dismantling meth labs or dealing with other hazardous situations now that the Middleport Police Department has received a donation of 16 complete head-to-toe outfits of protective clothing from Blauer Manufacturing Co. of Boston, Mass.
The garment ensembles include a full suit, with breathing apparatus, protective gloves and footwear, all of which must be worn to provide the necessary protection when working around hazardous materials.
The gift of the 16 suits came as the result of a request from Middleport Police Officer Shannon Smith who made an appeal to Blauer for the protective clothing. He cited the increasing number of meth labs being operated in the area and the need for officers to have protection from destructive chemical agents when dismantling. The result of Smith’s contact was the gift to the village of the protective garments, each valued at $4,000.
Smith reported that in Meigs and Gallia counties this summer over 30 labs have been dismantled. Officers from Meigs and Gallia also recently assisted with two discovered meth labs in Jackson County and one in Athens County.
According to the user’s guide, the outfits from Blauer provide limited protection against tears, punctures, abrasion, liquefied gas, high heat and flames, cryogenic liquids, gasses and body fluids. They were developed by the manufacturer to answer a need for personal protective equipment for law enforcement, fire and emergency services personnel when involved in domestic hazardous incidents.
Currently, Middleport has only one officer, Ricky Smith, who is certified to dismantle meth labs. However, Middleport officers Shannon Smith and Joel Lynch will be taking the necessary FBI training at the Academy in Virginia this fall in preparation for certification. Gallia County now has two certified officers — Deputy Fred Workman and Sgt. Chris Gill. An emphasis of the training is on how to avoid chemical exposure and personal contamination.
“The self-contained suits gives officers a sense of security, of protection against fire, explosion and chemicals,” said Smith, adding that officers will be working together in an effort to solve some of the area’s drug problems.