In Huntsville, Alabama is the Hazardous Devices School, one of only two bomb training facilities in the world with the capacity to train law enforcement and military personnel with the latest technologies and methods. Only the Hazardous Devices School permits civilian law enforcement officers to train for safe and effective bomb disposal. The Hazardous Devices School is funded and managed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in partnership with the U.S. Army Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School.
The Evolution of the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School
Since its inception more than 35 years ago, the Hazardous Devices School has trained over 18,000 bomb disposal technicians, with more 2,700 active technicians still working at the federal, state and local level. The Hazardous Devices School has trained personnel on more than 459 bomb disposal squads throughout the country. Each year almost 1,100 students are certified or recertified to handle a wide range of explosive, chemical, biological and nuclear devices. Each of these professionals is sponsored by their police or governmental organization and receive expert training at no cost.
Originally established in 1971 as a civilian bomb squad training facility, military personnel who had first-hand experience in the analysis, neutralization and removal of bombs initially staffed the Hazardous Devices School as experts of mines, improvised explosive devices and hazardous materials in the field of combat. The initial curriculum has grown and matured as new technologies like robots, x-ray systems, and disruptors have become available.
In the 1990s, the Hazardous Devices School added a training program for Weapons of Mass Destruction. It also took on the responsibility of training bomb technicians at all levels of law enforcement. The school also created a counterterrorism program that helps identify and neutralize suicide bombers, homemade bombs and other devices with WMD components. In addition to offering training for front line responders like police and fire, the Hazardous Devices School also provides critical bomb disposal equipment for more than 400 agencies throughout the country in an effort to standardize tools and protocols.
Hazardous Device School Core Curriculum
The instructors at the Hazardous Devices School instruct trainees in the following areas
- Identification of and response strategies for suicide bombers including dialogue, lethal force and bomb removal
- Use of canine bomb detection units
- Identification of explosive devices and neutralization strategies
- Public safety responses to be enacted around a bomb or WMD
- Use of x-ray systems, robots and bomb defusing equipment
- Proper analysis, storage, and disposal of defused explosive devices
- Coordination of police, fire and bomb team personnel during a crisis incident