Day in the life of the Bomb Squad

Obviously, this week has been a busy one for the Boston Police Bomb Squad.

But it’s got me thinking. I can’t remember the last major bomb scare in Boston; could it have been that Mooninite nonsense? And I can’t imagine that suspicious package calls come in more than once or twice a day, even in a city of Boston’s size, when tensions are lower than they are now.

What’s the typical day like for a member of the bomb squad? Do they spend the day training? Playing video games waiting for a call? Or do they all have other jobs in the police department to keep them busy when there are no explosives issues?

I have no idea what it’s like in big cities with highly trained personnel, but I am willing to bet that in most places, it was like what I experienced. I was a full-time firefighter in a small (35000) city, and most of the guys were just trained to handle fires, with some of us also trained as paramedics. We handled bomb scares, too, but got no training for it. We only had a few a year, and they were usually false alarms, so why bother?

I never felt fear going into a burning building, or being swung around atop a 100-foot ladder. I always felt fear looking for a bomb.

Anyone work with/on a major city full-time bomb squad?

I work on a military bomb squad–an Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight with the USAF. Our work is somewhat different than, but somewhat similar to police department Bomb Squads. I do have a lot of networking with them, and have done work with them in the past. Often, we collaborate with them, or they ask us for advice on military ordnance that’s either been found or has been tampered with.

Most of the duty days are spent in training–either reading, hosting/taking classes or performing scenarios for specific threats: downloading hung munitions from aircraft, mimicking IEDs we tend to find out in theater, clearing UXOs on local ranges, or performing ‘suspect package’ calls, just to name a few.

Major city bomb squads perform in the same fashion–either they’re working or training. However, the size and complexity of most major urban areas dictates that there’s always a call or two a day. Many of the SLC gentlemen I know average a suspicious package either downtown or at the airport daily.

Bombs do not scare me. The intent of the constructor/placer do.

“SLC” ?

Salt Lake City.

We actually had TWO SUSPICIOUS PACKAGES (!!!1!!!1eleven!) which became three this past week. They were so freaking excited to use the robot. You could honestly track the progress - city cops were so psyched - state cops shouldered them aside - here’s the ATF! Before all was said and done there were more guys in suits than uniforms out there. (It all happened outside my workplace windows, against which of course we were all glued.)

I should clarify–the police will average a suspicious package a day, but every department’s got some sort of protocol to follow before they call the Bomb Squads over to investigate. It’s not that each Bomb Squad is rolling to a suitcase bomb every day. . . but there is some random sh*t out there.

Zsofia I have to admit, the robots are fun. Even they have limitations though. We’ve had to send someone in wearing the bomb suit when we lost comms with our robot.

That thing is heavy too–so a big part of our training is PT (physical training). 82 lbs is a lot of weight to wear, especially for an extended period of time.

The helmet alone lowers your IQ twenty points.

In Chicago’s police department, “Bomb and Arson” is a single unit, so they have plenty of steady day-to-day business.