published Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Walker County Emergency Services to host training to ID homemade bombs

More than 90 emergency responders from around the area will spend all day Aug. 31 learning how to identify homemade explosives.

Walker County Emergency Services will host a federally funded, eight-hour anti-terrorism training session for first responders at the Walker County Civic Center in Rock Spring, Ga. Presented by New Mexico Tech, it will teach first responders how to recognize and report homemade explosives, as well as the wide range of "precursors," or materials used to make homemade bombs.

Firefighters, emergency responders and law enforcement personnel from Tennessee and Georgia will attend the free class that counts toward their continuing education requirement.

"There's numerous agencies that will have people there for that class," county Emergency Services Training Chief Marlin Thompson said.

Even county library personnel were invited by Mary Perry, president of Walker County's Community Emergency Response Team.

"We understand you all come in contact with various persons throughout the county who may check out books, use Internet services or just come and read books pertaining to explosives or materials used in the [bomb]-making process," she wrote in an email.

One example of homemade explosives occurred in May in Fort Oglethorpe in the 100 block of Van Cleve Street about half a mile away from the police station. The bombs consisted of two 2-liter plastic soda bottles in which chemicals were mixed with aluminum foil.

Such homemade explosives go by a variety of names. One is "The Works," for an inexpensive toilet bowl cleaner of that name that reacts with aluminum foil and causes the bottles to explode loudly. The blast releases hydrochloric acid and foil stripped of the protective wax it's coated with -- both of which can burn skin.

The Walker County Sheriff's Office plans to send some of its staff to the Aug. 31 training.

"We don't see a lot of explosive devices, but it don't mean you won't," Chief Deputy Mike Freeman said.

"We'd never seen a crematory that didn't cremate their people till 2002," he said, referring to the Tri-State Crematory in Noble that gained international notoriety when more than 300 uncremated bodies were found on its property.

Contact Tim Omarzu at tim or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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