WMD Equipment; Buyer Beware
Just like buying a car or a TV, buying WMD Equipment can be a good experience, or it can be the subject of a lot of pain and heartache.
Unlike buying a household appliance, making a bad purchase of WMD gear could wind up costing you your life. You don't have to be an expert, but doing a little research before the purchase is always an excellent idea.
Seek out your departments' WMD guy, or Bomb Tech. If your agency doesn't have these assets, look for a Hazardous Materials Guy. (Failing all these, read through my articles archive!)
Once you've done your homework on the particular piece of gear you are wanting, then hit the Internet. Go to the pages of the manufacturers, and compare similar products. Also, check out what the government says. An excellent resource is the NIOSH homepage www.cdc.gov/niosh/default.htm.
Finally, failing all of the above, here are some questions you need GOOD answers to before you commit to the purchase. If your salesperson can't answer these questions well, or doesn't seem to understand his product line, or the technology behind the product, move along.
1. Has this item been certified to detect/protect against WMD agents?
2. By whom?
(If they state that there isn't a certification authority, walk away. Between the DoD, NIST, NIOSH, FDA, and OSHA, the odds are good that somebody has a testing program for it.)
3. What SPECIFICALLY does the item detect/protect against?
4. What DOESN'T it detect/protect against? Why?
5. What levels will it detect/protect down to?
6. Are there any limited life components? How long do they last?
7. What kind of storage conditions does it need?
8. Is the unit reusable? Upgradable?
9. How durable is it?
10.What kind of training/fit testing do I need?
11.Do you provide or recommend a source of training/fit testing?
Hopefully, by getting good answers, and doing your homework, your WMD Equipment purchase will be a beneficial one.