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Charleston HAZMAT crews perform dangerous job using cutting edge technology

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

Infrared technology and suits that look like something another planet is normal for a HAZMAT crew member. They use state-of-the-art technology to investigate suspicious substances.

The AhuraFD, a device more like a cell phone with infrared technology identified a test substance in a matter of minutes. If need be, it could also email or text the results to a chemist.

Captain Greg Chesher said, "It'll actually come up with a reading on here that will actually show that it's sugar and baking soda and baby powder all in the same sample that we ran, if it was mixed with those."

Captain Chesher says hazardous materials, also known as HAZMAT are everywhere.

"It's basically a chemical that is outside of its original container. It can be anything from gasoline, to Drano, to diesel fuel, to acid, to any unknown chemical," said Chesher.

The display of equipment looked more like a science lab. Captain Chesher says the Charleston team of 30 HAZMAT crewmembers has the privilege of using modern technology that has grown in leaps and bounds over the course of his 15 year career.

"It makes a benefit for us because if we can identify it, we know what it is we know how to react to it. We know what type of evacuation we need to do if any," said Chesher.

The team of experts are required to do many hours of training every years. Captain Chesher says they wear Level A suits that provide the most protection during any chemical spill.

The suits come with many parts like boots and air packs creating an environment of its own.

Chesher said, "15 years ago we were in some suits that were very cumbersome, very hard to work. We couldn't see out of them."

Along with technology upgrades, the crew can soon look forward to a new building for their headquarters at Station 109. The crew also received a grant of $749,000 and will get a new truck filled with loads of equipment.

The HAZMAT team is currently trying to write new grants for additional equipment. Their goal is to get the highest rating possible for a hazmat team within a year.

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