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Cooking Proves Fatal To REALTORS® ?

By
Industry Observer

 

Rescue Operation

I think real estate professionals need to know more about cooking.  Cooking is not something you might think about in terms of risky business. Not even to a firefighter.  Not many days go by in the life of a firefighter when one can say that a response to an emergency situation at any given time is not risky business.  But cooking? The exception, perhaps, might be when putting out a fire in a kitchen started accidentally by a distracted  homeowner. In fact, however, one of the more risky responses that a firefighter can be exposed to is where cooking has or is occurring.  So if a high risk event for a firefighter is a cooking situation, it must be something that a real estate professional needs to be concerned about. 

 

Think about this.  Cooking done covertly using a combination of apparatus and common household products can produce the drug of choice commonly known as Methamphetamine.  We  REALTORS® are usually not aware of what these common household products are or what the apparatus looks like.  This illicit operation is conducted by, many times, amateur cooks, who have no idea how dangerous this illicit operation is.  The by product is a highly dangerous gas called phosphine.  One breath is debilitating and in many cases fatal.  How many times do we find ourselves in a stranger's home?  How would we know if the home, the car parked out back or the tool shed is or was being used to produce this dangerous substance?

 

Picture this, a REALTOR®,  with a client walks into a vacant home.  A garbage bag in the corner of the kitchen is noticed by the client.  It looks unusually placed but the client, thinking it's a garbage bag full of "garbage" unties it to dispose of a used Kleenex tissue.  Suddenly the client drops to the floor.  The realtor, shocked at the outcome rushes to the client's side and falls immediately to the floor as well..  Upon opening the bag, the phosphine gas escaped rapidly exposing both REALTOR®,  and client to a dose of the gas.  Garbage bags are one of many methods used by cookers to remove the gas from the process and discard it.  It could have very well been placed in the kitchen after the vacant home was used to produce the drug or the home can be an active lab.

 

Meth labs are springing up in every kind of neighborhood - rural and urban in every state. The increase in production is staggering.  This means the potential danger to someone like you or I can be dangerous as well.

 

Most illicit lab activities are discovered by emergency personnel responding to the scene of someone having a physical problem or to a fire or explosion as a result of manufacturing or production of the drug.  We as real estate professionals may not have the same risk but there is still the possibility of exposure.  Education on what to look for and the dangers involved may be useful to us and our client(s).  Knowing when and what to report would also be useful. Meth labs are poisonous and explosive and endanger not only emergency responders but all of us. 

 

I'm working with local law enforcement, fire personnel and public affairs to create a short presentation to educate realtors.  Is this something you think may be useful? I'd be interested in your input. 

 

 

Ken Spencer
Buckeye, AZ
for Verrado, Buckeye, Sundance

The picture by the way is a simulation that took place in the foothills of Denver above Golden, Colorado by Foothills Fire & Rescue and two other agencies.  The burning cabin used for the simulation was seen by cars on I-70 heading up to the mountains for skiing.  The many reports from drivers brought the Denver television media to the scene to film the event.    Here's a couple other pictures with Channel 9 News doing their thing.

Victims in cabin fireFire Personnel Enter Cabin

If you know of other real estate related training involving meth lab safety and awareness, please let me know.

Thanks....Ken 

 

 

Dec 21, 2006 04:49 AM
Anonymous
Audrey

This can be a very scary situation.  Everyone, including Realtors should make themselves aware and learn more about this very dangerous product.

Audrey 

 

Dec 31, 2006 08:05 AM
#2
Suzanne Marriott
Keller Williams Arizona Realty - Anthem, AZ
Associate Broker, CLHMS, e-PRO
I have two words for listing homes like this.  No Thanks!  Even if it has been "remediated" - there is always a chance that something was missed.
Jan 01, 2007 03:48 AM
Ken Spencer
Buckeye, AZ
for Verrado, Buckeye, Sundance

Suzanne:

You are absolutely correct.  AFter attending a two day hazardous materials course on meth labs, I wouldn't mess with a house that had been used as a meth lab or an RV, car, truck, bus, hotel room or anything like that regardless of the mitigation or cleanup done after the bust. 

Ken

 

Jan 01, 2007 05:15 AM
Anonymous
Jen
Very important article that could save a life.  I believe, now that it is 2007, the real estate community is getting on board with adding a Meth Lab Disclosure!?  This is something that should not be overlooked and unfortunately the remedies to get rid of the deadly substances is not as easy as one would think.  Please realtors, take the high road by taking the time to find out about meth labs/signs of meth labs.  Protect yourself, your clients, and your potential buyers.  The public thanks you.
Jan 10, 2007 08:58 AM
#5
Ken Spencer
Buckeye, AZ
for Verrado, Buckeye, Sundance

Thanks Jen.  Appreciate your input.  This is great coming from a fellow firefighter, emergency dispatcher and someone with a real estate background.

Ken

Jan 10, 2007 01:07 PM
Anonymous
Melinda

This is great info. Ken.  I also heard that Realtors are LIABLE to disclose if a house is/or has been used for a Meth. Lab.  Problem is, some sellers may not know or will not disclose.  We are liable to find out.  This is serious business. 

ME

Jan 31, 2007 08:23 AM
#7
Ken Spencer
Buckeye, AZ
for Verrado, Buckeye, Sundance

Thanks for your comments ME.  I do believe that Realtors are liable for disclosure.  Not knowing that a lab existed is crucial.  Unfortunately, as you said. It doesn't always get revealed by the seller.

Ken

Jan 31, 2007 03:37 PM
Renee L. Norton
Birmingham, AL
Thanks for the post and to all who have added comments.  Today after arriving at a house I was going to show to an investor, I found a warning notice posted regarding a severe mold problem.  We did not go inside.  My client still had an interest...wanted to check on mold remediation and possibly make a very low offer.  He asked me to wait in the car while he checked on something.  He went over and talked to some neighbors who were outside.  They informed him that the former owner had been cooking crystal meth in the home and that was the source for the mold.  They also said that an attempt had been made to re-mediate and that the mold came back.  They encouraged him to make a low offer and gut the house.  (It is a decent neighborhood and I understand their wanting this problem eliminated.)  I encouraged him to forget the house and look for something else.  He has rehabbed houses before, but has not dealt with toxic environments and the risks/liabilities that go along with it.  I did a search on AR blogs on crystal meth labs and found this.  After reading what has been written, I think I gave my client good advice.
Jun 02, 2007 05:43 PM
Anonymous
Ken

Renee:

Thanks for the information.  This is an outstanding example of how knowing about these hidden dangers can protect our clients.  It is value added that can't be overlooked by buyers when it comes to selecting someone like you who takes that extra step to be the professional that you are. 

Coincidentally, I ran into the officer that taught the HazMat course to us yesterday.  The course, Clandestine Labs, was an 8 hour program primarily geared to protecting first responders (fire and law enforcement personnel).  She's with the Denver Metro Drug Task Force.  The information she shared a few years ago prompted my blog from the real estate professional's standpoint.  She said they plan on having another course in October 2007.   

THanks again for sharing.

 

Jun 04, 2007 01:26 PM
#10
Renee L. Norton
Birmingham, AL
Thanks Ken...I need to check to see if a similar program is offered in the Birmingham area.  It saddens me to say that I fear we will encounter situations like this more and more.  Foreclosures are on the rise.  Many are sitting vacant.  Drugs, and the destruction they cause to lives and property, do not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, age, nationality, or socio-economic class.  One cannot judge by the neighborhood that everything inside a home is safe.  We must all be aware of the things around us and look for signs of potential risks.
Jun 04, 2007 03:06 PM