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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany


Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Warfighters depend on MCA lab work

By Art Powell | | January 28, 2010

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Warfighters expect their protective clothing and chemical decontamination equipment to function properly should they encounter chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear contamination anywhere on the battlefield.

To provide the tools they need, an assessment program at Maintenance Center Albany’s Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment Department helps.

“We test things like gloves, uniforms, hoods and decontamination kits,” said Pete Dembowski, manager, Automatic Test and Equipment Program Branch, TMDE Department, MCA. “It means we can extend the shelf life of this equipment if it checks out properly. Everything has a shelf life and by testing it, we can extend equipment for several additional years.”

For some tests, we use bleach, for others we freeze it, stretch it, abrade it,” he added. “For decontamination kits, we check for moisture and check the packaging to make sure the contents are holding up as they should.”

The Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear-Defense Laboratory, is a facility used to test and extend the shelf-life of military protective and decontamination products.

“Such products are used by all branches of the military and storage and periodic testing is performed under the Joint Equipment Assessment Program which is managed by the Marine Corps. Some test procedures are high-tech, others use simple products to assess an item’s functionability,” said John Powell, manager, TMDE, MCA. “Shelf life is the amount of time an item can be stored until it requires replacement with a new item or is tested to ensure it still meets specifications and placed back into, awaiting to be issued, stock,” he said.

Protective equipment tested by the lab consists of items such chemical resistant gloves, boots and other chemical resistant materials. Decontaminants tested by the lab include M100, M291 and M295 kits, and the types of testing include tensile testing, permanence of marking, low-temperature stiffness, leakage and percentage of moisture.

“A secondary benefit of having this assessment program is the millions of dollars saved by the military and for the taxpayer by extending the life of stored products,” Demboswki added. “Once items have passed rigorous testing here in Albany they can be recertified and kept in stock for future issue instead of being discarded and new items procured.”


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