City of Madison Fire Dept Type 1 Regional HazMat Team Assisted with Capitol Incident

January 16, 2013

On Tuesday, January 15, 2013, the Capitol Police arrested Kvon R. Smith at the State Capitol a few hours before Governor Scott Walker's State of the State address. The City of Madison's HAZMAT team, in conjunction with the Dane County Bomb Squad was deployed to identify an unknown substance which Mr. Smith brought into the Capitol.

The Madison Fire Department's response was initiated by a telephone consult with the Capitol Police to the Incident Commander. Engine 1 and the City's Hazardous Materials Team were then dispatched to respond the Capitol.

The team was asked to identify unknown substances that were contained in a backpack that Mr. Smith brought into the Capitol. Quick identification of the product(s) was necessary due to the pending State of the State address that was scheduled to begin within hours.

Initial report to the hazmat team was there were several bottles that contained an unknown product. Dane County EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) Team evaluated the containers and requested hazmat to do further analysis. MFD Hazmat elected to respond in structural firefighter gear with breathing apparatus. Multiple electronic chemical monitors and classifiers were used to determine if the chemicals were safe to place on the mass spectrometer. Mass spectrometry is an analytical technique that identifies the chemical composition of a compound.

The Madison Fire Department's HAZMAT Team is responsible for both county and regional hazardous material responses. It was one of the first of eight Type 1 Regional Hazardous Materials Response Teams which is currently funded by the State. The Hazmat team was quickly able to make entry and identify the previously unknown substances shortly after arrival.

Funding by the State as a Regional Team, allowed for acquisition of the mass Spectrometry equipment and educational requirements used in the identification of the substances the suspect brought into the Capitol.

This event involved interagency cooperation with Capitol Police, Dane County Sheriff's Department Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team (EOD), Division of Criminal Justice and the State Crime Lab. ATF and the FBI were contacted regarding this event. Two investigators with the City of Madison Fire Arson also responded to assist with the investigation.

Madison's HAZMAT is funded by city and county funds. Funding through the State of Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) allows the City of Madison Fire Department to maintain a Level 1 capability.

This response to the Capitol was to a criminal, terrorist event. Madison firefighters and hazmat personnel are trained to respond to Terrorist and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) events and have the capability to identify terrorist chemical, biological and radiological agents.

Contact:
  • Bernadette Galvez, 608-279-7186
  • 608-261-9844