MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- More than 20 firefighters and police officers from Beaufort County visited the Air Station for an explosives class hosted by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal department here Nov. 4.
“This class gives them an introduction to common explosives in the civilian and military world,” said Staff Sgt. Jules Thompson, an Air Station EOD technician. “It is a basic explosive awareness, military ordnance and improvised explosive device class.”
The police and fire department feel that the EOD training is essential to their everyday mission, according to J. P. Dowling, the Beaufort Police Department Chief.
“It is very important that they get exposed to this,” Dowling said. “Although some may know some of this stuff, it is a good reminder. It also reminds us about the importance of protecting a scene.”
Along with providing important information to the firefighters and policemen, the class was a great way to interact with the community, according to Thompson.
“Whenever they find military ordnance in town such as civil war firearms or practice bombs on a training range in the area, they have to call us,” Thompson said. “This will strengthen our relationship and help them understand what they are dealing with.”
The class is the same period of military instruction that EOD provides to deploying units, according to Thompson. During the class, the instructor teaches the audience everything from history to the capabilities of different types of explosives.
“A lot of times people are killed by not knowing about explosives,” Thompson said. “Often things can seem inert, but when moved they can go off.”
Throughout the class Thompson reiterated the importance of not moving any type of IED or explosive.
“I know about a situation where the police found a pipe bomb with a short fuse that did not go out,” Thompson said. “It was made to look like the fuse did not work, but it had a mercury switch that was made to go off when picked up.”
Knowing factors such as the speed of an explosion can also be very helpful, according to Thompson.
“There are many factors in explosives,” Thompson said. “One thing to know is that there are two different explosives: a high and low. The higher travels at the speed of sound, while the low is not quite that fast.”
Thompson also explained to the audience that black powder is the most common explosive and ingredient for a bomb.
“A pipe bomb, which is a common threat to schools, is very easy to make,” Thompson said.
“The most important thing is to leave it alone and call EOD.”
Along with explaining how bombs and explosives work, Thompson provided inert examples on everything from TNT to C-4.
“Most of us did not know a lot of the information passed to us,” said Wendell Wilburn the Beaufort Fire Department fire chief. “Now we know, and we can increase our safety.”
To wrap up the class, the EOD technicians provided examples of the explosive power igniting an ammo can, burning black powder and detonating something similar to a letter bomb.
The class was an eye opener for many of the firefighters and police officers, according to Daniel Lister, a firefighter with the Beaufort Fire Department.
“This was a rude awakening,” Lister said. “I was surprised at the amount of force that some of these explosives have. It was a good class.”