Armed Hostilities

Department’s Response to a Bomb Threat and Explosion

Terrorism (methodical use of terror particularly as a method of compulsion), is carried out differently using different weapons. Terrorists use different weapons to either have a particular desired impact, to achieve the biggest effect or to satisfy a terrorist’s specific motive. Among the weapons used by terrorists, incendiaries are most commonly used. These are substances or weapons such as bombs which upon explosion do start fires; they normally contain chemicals capable of producing intense hot fire when they explode. Because of this, countries have come up with particular departments to combat these kinds of terrorist activities. Therefore, this paper will focus on the characteristics of incendiaries and how they are used by terrorist, how the Atlanta, GA department responds to a bomb threat and how it responds to an explosion.

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Incendiaries are characterized by fiery harm causing causalities and material damage which can also bring psychological effects to the people affected. They contain materials such as, “napalm, thermite, chlorine trifluoride, or white phosphorus. Some of this are pipe and fire bombs, rockets, hand grenades, homemade incendiary bombs attached on a person’s body (suicide missions), vehicles loaded with flammable fuel and even nuclear bombs” (Campbell & Smith, 2008).

Incendiary weapons are known to produce extreme rapid release of heat that causes even more damage and causalities even after the actual bomb effect. This weapons are exceedingly energetic and do ignite spontaneously, immediately they are exposed to oxygen. “The weapons produce immense heat from this reaction making the elements burst into yellow-white flames and thick white smoke. The chemical reaction continues until either all the material is consumed or the element is deprived of all oxygen” (Shrader, 2003). Burns from these weapons are extensive, can reach the bone and are very agonizing.

Terrorists employ different methods while using these weapons. One of the most common usages is through suicide attacks. Most terrorists use suicide attacks to execute their motives. They attach this weapons to their bodies or belts and explode them at their targets (public places i.e. bus parks or in crowds of people). They are also known to leave these explosives in buses, trains and trucks then detonate them at specific places and time.

The response to a bomb threat is done either by the police, bomb squads, bomb disposal units or specially trained personnel. These threats are delivered in a number of ways. Most of them are called in to the targets while some of them are communicated through writing. When reporting on such an issue, it is definite that the person communicating has explicit knowledge about the incendiary explosive.

In response to this, the Atlanta GA department first cordons the potentially hazardous area, to reduce accessibility which in turn reduces casualties in the event of an explosion while limiting time that might be lost when searching. Bomb squads and bomb disposal units then set in looking for these explosive devices. They use a high technology bomb detecting device which seeks out and alerts the presence of incendiary bombs/explosives. Special trained sniffer dogs are also used to sniff possible devices that contain explosive materials.

Most of these measures are put in place to reduce potentiality for excess property damage or casualties. “In actual bomb incident preparation, two independent plans are normally developed. These are, physical-security and bomb incident plans. Physical-security provides for protection of property, personnel, facilities, and material against unauthorized entry, trespass, damage, sabotage, or other illegal and criminal acts” (Campbell & Smith, 2008). Conversely, the second plan prevents and controls access to the potentially hazardous area. If an explosive is detected, the bomb disposal units then step in. They do take necessary measures of diffusing and disposing these explosives before they cause any harm.

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In the recognition and response to these explosive attacks, psychological systems and behavioral techniques are also applied when analyzing and recognizing possible explosive attack threats/hazards. This department is known to have one of the most efficient technological capability and the best explosive search application methods which detect, establish, and make the explosives safe prior to detonation, or the carrying out of the intended motives.

Applications are always put in place on all appropriate pre-blast searches and methods to render the explosives harmless, together with post blast investigation and detection activities. This is mostly done to detect secondary and tertiary volatility and for the reasons of attribution.

The first measure taken b the Atlanta GA department during an incendiary bomb explosion is to evacuate, all persons and causalities while extinguishing fires caused by the explosion. Because currently incendiary weapons are mostly used by terrorists, this department concentrates most on damage limitation and reduction. This is mainly because, with incendiary weaponry, the main harm follows later and not directly from the brunt and explosion. The main effect of these explosives is the fires that start as a consequence of incendiary-action. The major focus of the department is to cut short the cycle of the fire-starting action and to stop the terrorists from accomplishing their desired incendiary operation (the initiation of a conflagration). The temperatures of incendiary bombs are up to or even more than 36300 F, because of this, any combustible material subject to the heat will definitely be ignited. With this in mind, fire fighters are normally dispatched to these scenes to fight these fires and to make sure no fires threaten undamaged buildings or create more threats.

Basically this department executes the following actions; it maintains a cordon that allows only authorized personnel into the crime scene, ensures everyone in the explosion area including the causalities are attended to, ensures the maintenance of a clear passageway for emergency personnel and makes sure there are no further threats of explosions.

Terrorism acts are currently rising necessitating emergency response departments at every level to, put protective measures in place that will safeguard their communities. Terrorist occurrences are generally classified by the weapon used. Customarily, weaponry and especially those of mass destruction are categorized into 4 groups. These are, “explosive & incendiary, chemical, biological and radiological. Explosive & incendiary weapons are the most common, accounting for more than 90% of terrorist incidents” (Campbell & Smith, 2008). These kinds of weapons do create more harm because, after an explosion they produce intense heat that bringing about more casualties and destruction long after the real explosion.


Campbell, J. & Smith, J. (2008). Homeland security and emergency medical response. Chicago: McGraw Hill Publishing.

Shrader, E. (2003). Methods of Extinguishing Incendiary Bombs. Journal of Chemical Education, 20 (6), 278- 282.

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