Bomb Squad Visit (and Gun Burial)

In a recent Citizen Fire Academy class we were visited by the area bomb squad as well as the bomb dog from the Tarrant Fire Marshall’s office.  We were given some basic information on identification of explosives as well as a demonstration of the equipment used by the bomb squad.  A bit of useful information is that the bomb squad recommends that everyone be at least 300 feet away from a potential bomb and under cover.  As the bomb tech noted, “You can’t duck at 30,000 ft/sec.”

I gained an appreciation for the job they do when he passed around the bomb suit.  The suit weighs 80 lbs.  They had to make a hanger for it out of rebar, since no regular hanger could hold it.  When you consider that they have to walk 300 feet (each way) wearing the suit and likely carrying another 50 lbs of equipment (portable X-ray, tool boxes, etc) in the Texas heat, it’s amazing that they manage to get anything done.  And if they think there may be some kind of chemical or biological hazard associated with the device, they have to use a portable air supply and wear a protective suit underneath the bomb suit.  Imagine being sealed in a ziploc bag and draped in a multi-layer Kevlar blanket under the Texas sun…

The bomb dog was also interesting.  It turns out that the dog was trained by BATFE and he’s loaned to the Tarrant County Fire Marshall’s office.  The guy from the Fire Marshall’s office is actually deputized as a Deputy US Marshall, since the dog is also on call for any kind of national situation that they may need (for example, this dog and his handler went to Houston for the Super Bowl to help with security).  The dog is trained to sniff out any one of several thousand explosive odors, including gun powder.  The demonstration they gave involved two items placed in the room.  One was a magazine from a Beretta pistol (sorry, couldn’t help but notice the make of the Keller Fire Marshall’s gun) hidden in the podium.  The other was a small item with explosive traces on it that was given to a student in the front row to put in his pocket.  The dog sucessfully found both items. 

If you’re the paranoid type, you might want to take note that this dog is capable of finding buried guns and ammunition (and in fact had been called out to do this at one time).  Of course, they have to know what area to search in.  Still, burying a gun in your back yard might not be as secure as you originally thought.


  1. Outlaw3 says:

    Would be interesting to know if that scentless gun cleaning stuff advertised to deer hunters works or not.  Also things like cleaning the gun with plastic gloves on, wiping dry, cleaning your hands, then wrapping the weapon in plastic with dessicant, burying in an airtight box and seeding the area with bleach, deer bait scent, other dog scents and the like would confuse the dog enough to make the handler move on.  He couldn’t smell or figure out why the dog was confused.  If you buried 3-4 decoy boxes of old ammo cans treated with gun cleaning oil in an area, the cops would probably give up after 1 or 2.

    Make sure you bury the bodies in concrete in another part of the area (that neighbor you don’t like – conclude with him “them gophers are purty durn big this year”), the cops seem to get real excited about digging up the whole yard if they find one of those.

  2. Outlaw3 says:

    You know… 30,000 ft per second just might be a slight exaggeration, considering that is on the order of about 100 times the speed of sound.  Not to mention the guy is talking about shrapnel, which is comparatively low speed fragment impact – as opposed to a bullet which is a high speed impact.

    I wonder what happens if you seed your lawn with gunpowder and a nice oil spray.  Oiling the grass would make it nice and shiny at least?

  3. I suppose any kind of decoy mechanisms wouldn’t be too helpful if you have an average suburban yard (i.e. less than half an acre), since they can dig up everything on it in a day or so.  Now if you had a lot of land (or access to a national forest or something), your chances of being found are pretty slim, unless they already have an idea where to look.

    I suppose if *everything* smelled like gunpowder, it would also throw the dog off.

    On the shrapnel issue, I don’t know that the comparison between shrapnel and bullets is completely valid.  Shrapnel or bomb fragments are going to be moving at or near the speed of the explosion.  With some modern explosives, that can be extremely fast.  He probably got that velocity from detcord, which works at 30,000 ft./second.  He mentioned that another bomb tech that he knows just returned from Iraq and had first-hand experience with the damage that a tiny piece of high-speed metal shrapnel can do to a person.