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Firearms Examiner Training

Physical Plant

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Physical Plant

Forensic laboratories as well as the firearm examination areas within the laboratory and/or firing facility require special safety considerations, including

  • evidence decontamination,
  • lead abatement,
  • ventilation,
  • sound abatement.

Evidence Decontamination

Decontamination supplies, per laboratory protocol, include the following:

  • Disinfectant solution for elimination of biohazards
  • Cotton swabs, detergent, and a sonic cleaner for removal of blood and other tissue

Lead Abatement

Tacky mat outside of firing range
Tacky mat outside of firing range
Courtesy of St. Petersburg College Firing Range (see reuse policy).

Firing and bullet recovery facilities where lead can be accumulated require specialized prevention measures per laboratory protocol and may include the following:

  • Frequent removal of lead buildup by qualified contractors
  • Decontamination of lead on walls, ceilings, and floors of firing areas
  • Removal of accumulated unburned and partially burned gunpowder from the floor of firing areas
  • Provision for containment of the migration of lead and other heavy metals (e.g., tacky mats)
  • Hand-washing equipment and supplies


Due to the health issues associated with lead, other heavy metals, and chemicals, provisions should be made to monitor and prevent ventilation hazards, per laboratory protocol, and may include

Sound Abatement

Sound abatement system on a firing range ceiling
Sound abatement system on a firing range ceiling
Courtesy of St. Petersburg College Firing Range (see reuse policy).

The interiors of firing spaces, such as ranges and bullet recovery spaces, should be soundproofed to minimize noise levels and vibration. This is a particular concern in physical plants in which firing spaces are in close proximity to other examination spaces and/or delicate instrumentation (e.g., scanning electron microscopes, instrumental chemistry laboratory spaces).


Emergency Response Preparation

Advance preparation is necessary in the event of an inadvertent shooting incident and for other serious nonfirearm injuries. Procedures should be in place to maximize the ability to respond to an emergency situation.

Response Planning

The development of an emergency accident response plan (per laboratory protocol) is prudent for the laboratory setting. The plan should include a medical evacuation procedure that may contain the following elements:

  • Posting of procedures for rapid access to laboratory spaces by emergency medical personnel
  • Internal and external telephone contact numbers for emergency medical assistance
  • Management telephone contact numbers

Emergency Response Training

Training (per laboratory protocol) should be provided for

  • emergency response plan for accidental shootings,
  • first aid for typical gunshot wounds,
  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),
  • use of chemical spill kits.


Emergency equipment may include

  • first aid kits (including gunshot wound treatment),
  • eye wash stations,
  • chemical spill kits.

Selected Bibliography

The Selected Bibliography is a list of the writings that have been used in the assemblage of the training program and is not a complete record of all the works and sources consulted. It is a compilation of the substance and range of readings and extensive experience of the subject matter experts.

  1. 29 CFR 1910. Subpart L. Fire Protection.
  2. 29 CFR 1910.1030. Bloodborne Pathogens.
  3. 29 CFR 1910.1450. Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories.
  4. Ball, P., and D. Mikko. 1992. Protective optics. AFTE J 24 (1): 80-81.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/
  6. Dutton, G. 1997. Firearms safety in the laboratory. AFTE J 29 (1): 37-41.
  7. Geibel, J. May June 1992. Ammunition can be hazardous to your health (in more than the obvious way). Police and Security News p11.
  8. Martinez, A.M. August 1993. Lead poisoning. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin p1-4.
  9. National Rifle Association, Gun Safety Rules. http://www.nrahq.org/education/guide.asp
  10. Silverwater, H, A. Koffman, and A. Zamir. 2001. Cross-infection of infectious diseases as applied to forensic firearms examinations and the means to prevent it. AFTE J 33 (3): 227-232.
  11. U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration. http://www.osha.gov/