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FBI, Arizona first responders team up to spot weapons of mass destruction

Arizona's first responders teamed up with the FBI on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, to study weapons of mass destruction (Photo courtesy FBI Phoenix).

PHOENIX — Valley first responders got together with the FBI in Phoenix Tuesday to talk weapons of mass destruction.

The training sessions are designed to familiarize our partners with potential WMD threats that they could come across in their day-to-day work, said Phillip Bates, FBI special agent and W.M.D. coordinator for Arizona.

“We want to make them more aware of the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive precursors that could be present, if they came into a WMD-type crime scene,” he said.

Several Valley law enforcement, fire departments and EMTs took refresher courses on what WMD-making materials can look like during chemical and biological mock labs.

Phoenix Fire Captain Dave Follett said it’s important for them to know what to look for.

“It can be difficult because some of these people that create these things don’t use the proper tools,” Follett said. “They may put some of these chemicals in the wrong things; that’s where we come in.”

The workshop also helps fire departments know what to look for when they’re investigating the cause of a fire.

“We’re unique down in the Phoenix area and actually statewide, where we are the HAZMAT technicians,” Follett said. “We will usually become first on scene for a lot of the calls for the weapons of mass destruction.”

Officials said the public can help by staying vigilant, being aware of your surroundings and of course, if you see something, say something.

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