An inside look at the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School at Redstone Arsenal

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From car bombs, to high risk hostage rescues, and operating robots, the demand for highly skilled bomb techs has never been greater.  

“There’s remote controlled bombs, there’s command bombs, there’s victim initiated bombs. All of that we have to practice and train on here because we don’t know what we’re gonna encounter,” says John Stewart, the director of the FBI’s hazardous devices school in Huntsville.

“So right now there’s about 2,900 that protect us across America. And they all come here for their initial training,” says Stewart.

What does it take to be a bomb tech? “It takes a drive,” says Stewart. “A desire to wanna help people. you have to have some mechanical skills. you have to be able to get thoughts from your brain to your hands.”

Our FOX News team saw first hand how bomb techs learn to handle the shock waves, and how to operate under extreme conditions and pressure.

Stewart says, “We take them from a police officer or fire fighter with no background to a position where they can successfully navigate their way through an IED call.”

Bomb techs embedded with SWAT teams after the Tsarnaev brothers used pressure cooker bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon, and a terrorist couple used guns and homemade bombs to kill in San Bernadino California two years later.

Fox News went inside the training. 

This is a sort of, a top tier threat, a category “A”, you have a hostage, and a live device and then something called a dead man’s switch. If the hostage takes their thumb off the red button and it detonates.

FBI team member Jordan Clark says, “Removin’ a hostage device is obviously the– the riskiest procedures because all of the– the procedures that we do are manual and hands-on. And havin’ bomb techs integrated with tactical teams just seems to make sense to address the emerging threat.”

FOX cameras stopped rolling to protect methods.

The training is driven by foreign and domestic intelligence. Ian Yabernick says, “we look at that threat stream, uh, what types of explosives are being used and IED’s. that all comes to us and then we try to access whether our current procedures and technology can address that threat.” 

The average person is thinkin’, “how do they put on a suit and walk downrange.

King says, “the number one goal that HDST teaches us is that go-remotes stay remotes. There are gonna be time frames when that just doesn’t happen.”

Bomb techs visit the memorial wall. One plaque is blank. “And our goal is to ensure that that plaque stays empty. that we don’t have another name on that,” says King.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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