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Springfield Fire Marshal explains how the bomb squad investigates suspicious devices

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 9:56 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Several neighborhoods near the old Campbell Elementary School, near downtown Springfield, went on lock down for hours Monday night.

Once police secured the area a specialized team of bomb experts with the Springfield Fire Department eliminated the threat.

The bomb squad covers 18 counties across southwest Missouri. It responds to an average of about 100 calls per year. Fire marshal Ben Basham with the Springfield Fire Department Bomb Squad says his team deals with actual explosives on nearly 10 percent of those calls.

Basham explains that every call is taken very seriously.

“The thing last night had considerable elements attached to it that raised it to the level of suspicion. This is probably a little bit more legit versus the backpack that’s just sitting out in the field around nothing,” he said.

The team of specialized technicians take into account the target, placement and threat of any suspicious device reported.

That’s when people in the surrounding area are alerted.

“We recommend that you evacuate and go to a safe place until we can release the scene. If it’s appropriate, shelter in place, stay in the house, stay away from the windows and go to the opposite end of the house,” explains Basham.

Crews then carefully assess the situation before taking action.

“We were presented with enough information that we didn’t feel comfortable approaching it. That’s why we worked remotely. The main goal is to disrupt the device without it exploding,” said Basham.

If the robots cannot be used and the bomb technician has to close to the device they put on a 90 pound, $35,000 suit that gives them limited protection should the device detonate.

Roughly only 3,400 certified bomb technicians exist in the country. All of which go through nearly 300 hours of initial training.

“Every bomb tech in the country goes through the same school so that we’re taught exactly the same.

If, God forbid, something like Oklahoma City happened again, they could pull techs from different squads and we would mesh together and know how to work together,” said Basham.

They all use similar equipment to get the job done safely.

“You have to treat every call that you go on as if it’s a legitimate device. You risk a little to save a little. You risk a lot to save a lot,” he said.

The robot used Monday night destroyed the suspicious device.

If you stumble across something that appears suspicious authorities say to try to remember every detail you can about the package, then quickly back away and call 911 immediately.

The fire marshal is still investigating the incident on Elm Street near downtown Springfield.

Anyone with information is asked to call police.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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