Bomb Search Basics

All authorities are in agreement that the most effective and fastest search of a building can be made by the normal occupants of that building. No community can supply the number of police officers or firemen it would take to make a fast thorough search of a facility of any size such as the academic and public assembly facilities on campus. Even if such manpower were available, they would still not be the best qualified to conduct the search.

Since the terrorist does not label the device with the word "bomb", what should you look for? What does a bomb look like? No one knows. It can be packaged in as many different ways as the maker's imagination will allow. Some devices may be the size of a cigarette package, while others may be as large as a 2-ton truck.

Since the object of the search can vary in size and shape, it is a fundamental rule that search must be made by persons who are familiar with the area in order to notice a strange or foreign object. However, the use of personnel who occupy the premises to conduct the search may present problems with the hysteria that can result from the threat unless there has been careful planning beforehand. In designating or assigning personnel to an area to be searched, there should be no reluctance to assign females, if they are the ones most familiar with the area. Women are as qualified to carry out this function as are men.

If the facility has a public address system, personnel can be alerted to commence the search by use of a code signal, e.g. "Mr. Franklin, Please come to the office".

In devising a search plan the building or premises to be searched should be divided into areas and each person assigned a room or area. Personnel so assigned should make a survey of the area and note what objects normally occupy the area. Grill covers over heating and air-conditioning ducts should be inspected so that a subsequent inspection would reveal any entry or tampering.

In some instances the detonation or ignition of any explosive or incendiary might depend on a change in environment, e.g. temperature variations or the presence of an electric current. Therefore, the personnel assigned to conduct the search should be cautioned not to cause, or at least minimize any change in the environment. Do not go into a dark room and turn on the lights or change the setting of the thermostats in the room.

Other search techniques that can be employed are:

  1. A staff member or supervisor should be designated as floor or area warden for each floor of the building, or perhaps several area wardens for single story buildings. Wardens should be responsible for directing the search of their areas, receiving information from search personnel, and relaying it to the command post.
  2. Alert the nearest medical facility to standby during the search. This provides immediate medical attention in the event of accidental or premature detonation.
  3. Alert the Murfreesboro Fire Department to standby in the event a detonation occurs.
  4. An effective search technique is as follows:
    1. Maintenance and custodial personnel search such areas as hallways, rest rooms, stairwells, elevator shafts, utility closets, and areas outside the building.
    2. Office personnel search their immediate areas.
    3. As the search of each area is completed and no suspicious objects found, a report is given to the incident commander.