Officials with the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency are warning Fire Department personnel in western & southwest Iowa, about an increase in the theft of fire protection equipment from unlocked fire stations, especially when crews are out on a call. Shelby County E.M.S. Coordinator Jason Wickizer says persons who manufacture methamphetamine are allegedly stealing items such as Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) masks, communications equipment, Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) pads and batteries, along with firefighter’s personal protective equipment (PPE).

Wickizer says the suspects have apparently been using scanners and communications equipment to be alerted to when departments are paged-out. When the crews are gone, the thieves check the fire station to see if any of the bay or access doors are unlocked, which is the most common form of entry.

Wickizer says the meth makers are using S.C.B.A. masks and other personal protective equipment during the cooking process, but they also use the equipment to enhance the effectiveness of the drug. They also used the masks to tap anhydrous ammonia tanks. In addition, the meth cookers will sometimes search boxes used by emergency responders to carry medications, in an attempt to find products they can use to support their drug making capabilities.

Officials recommend area fire departments…especially those in smaller communities…lock your stations’ doors when they are on a call, and report any burglaries immediately to your county sheriff, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and Bureau of Emergency Medical Services Regional Coordinator.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Alantic