Part 2: Threats and Operations


By Lt. Alvaro Javier Toñanez, Exercise Planner/Training Officer, Hazardous Materials Bureau, Miami Dade Fire Rescue, USA


Unattended Package: Packages that may have made it through the initial security screening

Suspicious Package: Any object that is out of time or place for its intended purpose.

Unknown odors: Any suspicious odor that may indicate a possible chemical exposure or the alert of one of the remote monitors.

Unknown substances: Any substance in the form of solid or liquid that may be seen as a possible threat, i.e., acids, fuels, radioactive material, biological organisms, illegal drugs.


Inner Perimeter (L1): Mostly utilized as initial Mass Decontamination surrounding the inner perimeter of the stadium. This form of decon level is provided by either fire hydrants adjacent to the stadium or Fire suppression units at predetermined choke points.

Technical (L2): This is deployed when JHAT personnel enter a potentially contaminated area and will need to be decontaminated near the area of a possible threat. This form of decontamination should be pre-deployed if possible.

Outer Perimeter (L3): This is deployed as Mass Decontamination for spectators located on the outer perimeter of the stadium. This form of decontamination is provided by the decon trailer.

Hasty (L4): Is carried by all JHAT teams and should be the first form of decontamination prior to moving to the L2.


Upon notification of a possible threat, the closest JHAT to the hazard will respond to determine the veracity and nature of the threat. If the threat is deemed credible the JHAT supervisor will deploy to assist and support the primary JHAT. Threats will be classified in accordance with their potential impact on the safety and security of the public.

EXPLOSIVE devices will be considered the threat that would impact the event the largest. Explosives can be packaged and disguised in many ways. Objects that are out of place, such as pipes, backpacks, vehicles, etc. should be viewed as potential energetic material and therefore adjudicated first.

RADIATION emitting material placed in an area with the intention of harming fans attending the event should always be considered. Once a suspicious device has been cleared as an explosives threat, it should be assessed for radiation. The alarm of any of the Personal Radiation Detector (PRD) utilized by first responders or stadium staff should be investigated.

CHEMICAL products in the form of solid, liquid, or gases that may be used as a weapon to injure, kill, or disrupt the event should be assessed after both explosives and radiation threats have been ruled out. If the product in question does not pose any threats mentioned above it should be analyzed as a chemical to determine the type of hazard it may present, i.e., corrosive, flammable, poison.

Response 6 step process:

1) Detect: The presence of a Hazardous Material

2) Verify: Ensure accuracy of initial detection

3) Locate: The source of the Hazardous Material

4) Measure: How much Hazardous Material is found?

5) Assess: Does it belong there and is it a threat?

6) Mitigate: Stop the threat


The decontamination plan consists of four different levels of response.

  • Inner Perimeter Decon: is meant for mass decontamination of a large group of people. Because it targets a large group it is considered gross removal of a contaminant. The means of delivery are provided by the fire hydrants that surround the immediate perimeter of the event/stadium and are fitted with a decontamination nozzle (HY-D). When the IC determines that a potentially hazardous material is present, he will notify all responders that the Fire Hydrants need to be turned on. Spectators will be directed via public announcement to seek these hydrants for cleanup.
  • Outer Perimeter Decon is meant for more detailed removal of contaminants and is located on the NW corner of the outer perimeter on NW 203 St and 26 Ave. The means of delivery is via the decontamination trailer. When the IC determines that a potentially hazardous material is present the JHAT coordinator will assign a crew to man the corridor. The Decon trailer has the capability to provide both ambulatory and non-Ambulatory decontamination.
  • Technical Decon is meant for ALL first responders working in protective chemical clothing in the area considered to be the Hot Zone. The means of delivery are through the DQE system which will be placed in an area between the inner perimeter and outer perimeter.
  • Hasty Decon is meant for all JHAT members that may have come in contact with hazardous material and need a fast form of contaminant removal. The means of delivery is through the DHALGREN system carried by the JHAT supervisor.


ZONING: By setting perimeters around landmarks that keep people out of areas not permitted. Access to these zones is granted only to those who need to perform duties related to the event or spectators with the right credentials. Barriers are put in place to deny complete entry to areas off-limits to the public.

BADGING: The process of providing CREDENTIALS that grant access to the different zones within the event. Usually done for all employees and staff hired to work at the event. Those assigned with credentials have been previously vetted by security.

SCREENING: Setting checkpoints at the different perimeters to screen for any items that may pose a threat to those attending. The organizer of the event should keep in mind that if an attack should take place, checkpoints have the possibility of creating choke points that will restrict the evacuation of fans from the venue. If checkpoints are used, they should be easy enough to remove in a timely manner.


If history has taught us a lesson it is that a determined terrorist will go to extremes to succeed at their mission therefore all attempts should be made to harden any potential target. JHAT’s are one of the several security systems that can be set into motion to protect from a possible attack. They provide a valuable tool that makes the best of sharing resources such as personnel, equipment, and expertise to ensure the safety of those attending an HPE. Because they are made up of the different agencies that are tasked with the security of the event, they provide a common operating picture to those in the Command Post. JHAT’s are not a fix-all solution when preparing for an event and should not be the only answer to address safety and security concerns. They are deployed alongside other security systems that are meant to complement one another. JHAT can only be successful when other deterrence mechanisms are put in place to ensure the security of the event.

Author: Bio

Lt. Alvaro Toñanez is a Fire Lieutenant for the Miami Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) Department, assigned to the Hazardous Materials Bureau. In his 25 years of duty he has been involved in several HPE held in Miami, such as the Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA) summit, several Nascar Cup final, NFL Super Bowl and Pro Bowl games, and the MLB World Series. He currently functions as the MDFR, JHAT Training Coordinator for the Miami Gran Prix.

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