Welcome………. Thanks for participating in the workshop Explosion Incidents: The Company Officers Role.

The purpose of this workshop is to provide the company officer with a basic understanding of explosions and then to look at those safety related issues concerning the initial response.

Explosion Incidents: The Company Officers Role


Fortunately, as a company officer, we are not faced with an explosion scene very often. Just the mention of an explosion sends differing thoughts to each of us. Thoughts such as……..

What was the cause?

Was it a terroristic incident?

Was it a bombing?

How many are injured or dead?

What is the extent of damage?

and hopefully many others, such as …..

What are the hazards that we will have to face?

How can I keep myself and the other members of my crew safe?

How safe is the structure?

How can we care for the injured and still operate in a safe manner?

What resources will be needed?

and, in some instances that as the company officer, the potential of responding to an explosion incident is about zero.

Well, all of those thoughts have merits. But, in reality, we are likely to respond to an explosion. Key here is that the term "Explosion" does not necessarily mean "Explosives" or "Terroristic" events. The term "Explosion" covers a wide variety of events that can be as a result of the initiation of explosives, fuel gases, dusts, and BLEVE’s.

Also, not all explosion incidents are criminal acts or accidents. Regardless of the fuel or item involved explosions pose many unique conditions and require that the company officer as well as all within the command structure plan and evaluate every action.

It should be noted that the theme of this presentation is to make the company officer aware of the issues that can be present as a result of an explosion and to assist in making the response to the incident as safe as possible. Safety, your own and that of the other responders is essential and this program will attempt to provide you with the information needed to make correct decisions.

Whenever responding to an explosion, the following basic safety issues should be considered.

1. Do not handle explosive materials, unless you are trained and equipped to do so.

2. In the event that an explosive device is suspected, there is always the possibility of second or additional devices. The area should be checked and cleared by a Bomb Technician.

3. Do not handle suspected explosive devices, evacuate the area to a safe distance and await technical assistance.

4. If the explosion was the result of a fuel gas, the leaking fuel should be shut-off. Other utilities should also be evaluated.

5. Evaluate structural conditions and reinforce as needed.

6. Evaluate surrounding hazards, i.e. Chemicals, Tanks and Storage Vessels.

7. Consider and evaluate biohazards, use appropriate personal protective equipment.

8. Complete the essential tasks to control the emergency and also limit contamination of the scene.

Following these basic rules in addition to the "normal" scene operations should go a long way to limiting additional injuries and also maintaining a scene for investigation.

Links of Interest

National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI)

National  Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Fire and Safety Engineering Technology, Eastern Kentucky University

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Explosives Incident Report and related ATF bombing information.

A chat session has been scheduled for this session (see program), however often times questions may arise prior to that scheduled time. If you have a question please do not hesitate to contact me and I will attempt to provide an answer.

Ron Hopkins

Copyright © November, 1999

All Rights Reserved


Ron Hopkins
Fire Protection and Safety Consultants, Ltd.
123 Redwood Drive
Richmond, Kentucky 40475
859-623-6863 FAX