Explosive

What is an Explosive?

Explosives can be broken down into two categories: high explosives and low explosives.

Low explosives are often used as propellants or fuels (e.g., gasoline, kerosene, gun powder, etc.) and often referred to as deflagrates. When ignited, a low explosive undergoes a process knows as deflagration, in which the substance rapidly expands, accompanied by a dramatic increase in thermal energy. Low explosives are often flammable and deflagrate (explode) at relatively slow rates. Low explosives are more common than high explosives.

A high explosive can be defined as is any substance prone to under go rapid chemical decomposition accompanied by swift changes in heat and pressure (e.g., trinitrotoluene [TNT] aka dynamite, nitroglycerine, ammonium nitrate, etc.). High explosives are often chemically unstable in nature and can detonate in the absence of an oxygen source. Most often, a high explosive must be detonated by a low explosive. High explosives expand as supersonic rates using a principle called shock compression (i.e., high explosives are accompanied by a very strong shock wave). High explosives are chemically unstable in nature and can detonate in the absence of an oxygen source. High explosives expand much faster than low explosives. High explosives are commonly used in mining, civil engineering, agriculture, demolition, and construction, as well as weapons.

What is an Explosive Incident?

An explosive incident is an undesired or harmful detonation of an explosive. Explosives incidents can be intentional or unintentional. Intentional explosive incidents (i.e., bombings or terrorist attacks) take place when an explosive device is intentionally detonated in order to cause property damage, loss of life, or any other harmful outcome. Unintentional explosive incidents (i.e., accidental explosions) occur when an explosive substance is accidentally detonated due to a leak or fire, for example.

The risk of explosive incidents is actually quite high in our region and nation. Many businesses make, transport, and use both low and high explosives every day. Explosives continue to be the weapon of choice for terrorists worldwide. In addition, businesses that use explosives are at high risk of sabotage by terrorists or criminals.

These Web sites give you some information about preventing, preparing for, and responding to explosive incidents:

Note: The following links are provided as a resource only. The content provided was not prepared by the Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security (PRBCHS), and is not necessarily endorsed by PRBCHS.


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Bomb Stand-Off Card
The safe process to deal with a Bomb. Do not touch suspicious item, Notify proper Authorities – Call 911, ensure all witnesses are available to brief 1st responder, and recommended stand-off data should be used in conjunction with your emergency evacuation plan. Learn More from Bomb Stand Off Card


Allegheny County Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team

The duties of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit includes the safe rendering of various types of explosive devices, including military ordnance, and conducting post-blast investigations for possible criminal prosecution.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE)

The BATFE is a law enforcement organization within the United States Department of Justice with unique responsibilities dedicated to protecting the public and reducing violent crime. ATF enforces the Federal laws and regulations regarding explosives and arson.

Department of Defense (DoD) Explosives Safety Board (DDESB)

The DDESB’s mission is to provide objective advice to the Secretary of Defense and Service Secretaries on matters concerning explosives safety and to prevent hazardous conditions to life and property on and off Department of Defense installations from the explosives and environmental effects of DoD titled munitions.

National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)

The mission of the international nonprofit NFPA is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Fire and Explosion Planning Matrix

Recent terrorist events in the United States underscore the importance of fire prevention and workplace emergency planning efforts. Fires or explosions created by arson or an explosive device can be the quickest way for a terrorist to affect a targeted business. Consequently, OSHA developed this Fire and Explosion Planning Matrix to provide employers with planning considerations and on-line resources that may help employers reduce their vulnerability to, or the consequences of, a terrorist’s explosive device or act of arson. A terrorist’s explosive device or act of arson are not workplace fire hazards or ignition sources that OSHA expects an employer to reasonably identify and attempt to control.

Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner

The Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner is the official charged with meeting the diverse training, operational, and informational needs of the Commonwealth’s fire and emergency service community. The Commission provides comprehensive resident and weekend programs for firefighters, rescue personnel, arson investigators, hazardous materials teams, and other emergency responders dealing with fire and explosive emergencies.

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