Fire service fight back against the opioid epidemic

Massachusetts Department of Fire Services invests in Smiths Detection’s state-of-the-art technology to help keep first responders and their communities safer.

The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS) has joined other government agencies in arming their hazardous materials response teams with Smiths Detection HazMatID Elite hand-held chemical identifiers to enhance their ability to protect the public and themselves from exposure to dangerous illegal opioids. Smiths Detection has provided DFS with leading chemical, radiation and explosive-detection solutions for more than a decade.

HazMatID Elite has become a critical tool for first responders fighting the opioid epidemic, including protection against the powder form of illicit fentanyl and its analogues. It is a next-generation, field-based solid and liquid analyzer that identifies dangerous substances in one minute or less. HazMatID Elite uses miniaturized and ruggedized Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, to enable tests to be conducted at the scene of a crime or in the field. Its results are so reliable that they may be used as court-admissible evidence and aid in medical response cases where a suspected overdose has occurred.

Stephen Esposito, Vice President, Business Development for Smiths Detection Inc., said, “The growing fentanyl exposure risk to first responders is severe since inhalation of very small amounts can be life-threatening. Our range of field-portable detection and identification solutions will provide agencies like DFS with the ability to make better decisions to keep responders, and their communities, safer.”

HazMatID Elite is among four leading field-portable solutions that Smiths Detection has adapted to detect and identify fentanyl. Other solutions include:

  • IONSCAN 600 – is used in airports, corrections facilities and security checkpoints across the world. It is a portable system that can be used to detect invisible amounts of narcotics like fentanyl, and explosives, in seconds.
  • ACE-ID – utilizes laser Raman technology to allow contactless testing of unknown substances including through plastic and glass.
  • Target-ID – hand-held FTIR narcotics identifier with a robust library of illicit drugs and cutting agents.

The products were designed to complement each other in response scenarios but can work independently. Smiths Detection also has made sure that its ReachBackID 24/7 hotline will give first responders, using these products, access to Ph.D. scientists to support their field-based tests.

For more information about Smiths Detection’s work to protect first responders from exposure to fentanyl, please visit