NJ Fire Inspectors now carry radiation detectors

Because you never know when that cheap garage-sale couch could go super-critical.

Local fire inspectors began making their rounds this week in 46 Bergen County towns with a small device on their belts that lets them know when there is a radiation source nearby.

The devices — called personal radiation detectors — are part of a federally funded anti-terrorism initiative aimed at foiling any attempt to create havoc by concealing or transporting a so-called dirty bomb or other radioactive materials.

A grant from Homeland Security paid for the training and the devices, which cost about $500 each and are about the size of a large cellphone. They are also being distributed to fire inspectors within the New Jersey Urban Area Security Initiative, which includes Jersey City and Newark plus Passaic, Hudson, Essex, Middlesex, Morris and Union counties.

And beware of banana bombs.

Rauch said it’s not uncommon for the devices to routinely detect normal background sources of radiation.

For example, a person who has just undergone a dose of radiation treatment can trigger the device. So can a large shipment of potassium-rich bananas or certain kinds of ceramics or a large amount of the clay in kitty litter. X-ray machines in hospitals and dental offices will also show up on the device.

Here’s a terrorist pro-tip — hide your plutonium in the kitty litter!

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