Recognizing the critical role that
fire departments play in responding to chemical, biological, radiological,
nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) emergencies, the Saint John Fire Department is
taking part in a pilot project for a tool to help emergency responders
investigate these incidents.
The PROBE project provides the
responder tools for aiding the identification and handling of CBRNE in criminal
investigations. It also deploys its own wireless network allowing communications
on scene (and beyond) in the absence of existing
In short, this is a tool to help
investigate a chemical spill, radioactive incident or biological attack that
doesn’t depend on phone lines, radios or cell phone towers to maintain contact.
It works as well in urban areas as it does in rural areas.
“We heard about the project at a
conference last year. It’s a great opportunity to practice our skills, to learn
about a new technology and to expand our knowledge and our capabilities to
handle CBRNE and hazardous materials incidents,” explains District Chief Lew
MacDonald of the Saint John Fire Department. “Saint John has been recognized as
a leader in Hazardous Materials, with responsibilities to interface with the
Canadian Border Services in response to U.S./Canadian Border incidents, as well
as Hazmat incidents at the Port of Saint John.”
The Saint John Fire Department’s team
also responds to Hazmat incidents at industrial partner sites. A provincial
government agreement is in place that makes the Saint John Fire Department the
primary Regional Hazmat responders to incidents occurring within the
geographical area from the St. Stephen Border, to the Confederation Bridge (PEI)
and as far north on Highway 7 to Petersville Hill.
PROBE is a CRTI (CBRNE Research and
Technology Initiative) project funded by Defence R&D Canada (DRDC) – Centre
for Security Science (CSS), with AMITA Corporation as the technical lead. AMITA
is a software solutions company focused on emergency management, based in
Ottawa. The project, led federally by the RCMP’s Canadian Bomb Data Centre, is a
platform to bring together tools used by police, fire, Hazmat and emergency
medical services to create the best possible record and sharing of information
during a critical response.
The PROBE exercise is the final event
of Saint John’s Emergency Preparedness Week activities.