A new breed of bomb truck

Response vehicles of the 21st century


     Between the garage and the work stations are several built-in storage units, incorporating roll-up doors. As with St. Lucie's, one of these doors is a full-length door, behind which is closet space to store the bomb suits and other protective clothing used by the team. Other areas conceal the various tools of the job — disruptors, X-ray equipment, demolition tools and hand tools.

     Similar to the St. Lucie County unit, there is a roll-out canopy on the passenger side of the truck. In Florida, the canopy provides cover in a multitude of conditions, from broiling sun to monsoon rains. Bomb calls are not selective when it comes to weather conditions, and teams must be able to function in all situations.

     With its size, activity and population, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is often an early recipient of cutting-edge equipment. One example is the receipt of the first Foster-Miller Talon delivered to the public safety community. Another example is the first NABCO large container TCV with WMD scrubbing system. As a result, Gale says that E-One staff members would scratch their heads in regard to some equipment storage needs and say, "We never saw that before." But he found E-One responsive; anything that the agency would design, E-One could find a construction solution for. The greatest challenge was adapting the Freightliner chassis with the long box on it to a trailer hitch system capable of handling the size of the TCV. But that issue was solved by the engineering staff at Emergency-One, and the TCV now follows the truck wherever it responds.

A new breed of bomb trucks

     The new breed of bomb trucks is not cheap. Both the St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County sheriff's offices combined grant monies with locally budgeted funds to put their wheels on the street. But several factors must be considered. First, most bomb squads are part time and calls for service are limited. A well-designed and constructed truck will provide many years of service, most likely to be replaced as its design becomes obsolete in the changing bomb disposal field. Second, with the changing emphasis on bomb squads to be WMD-response units, equipment needs have grown, as has the value and complexity of that equipment. Where one did not have much concern other than securing demolition tools and disruptors in a truck, new demands on the design of response equipment are driven by the variety of computer-based equipment which require more environmentally controlled storage and more delicate handling places.

     A job-specific design, built for the purpose at hand, will provide reliable response and on-site service, as opposed to legacy hand-me-down units that suffer constant mechanical and electrical breakdowns, and endanger bomb response capabilities, bomb technicians and ultimately the public.

     Paul Laska retired from a 29-year career in law enforcement. He may be contacted through his Web site at www.PaulRLaskaForensicConsulting.com.

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