The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Bomb and Hazardous Device Disposal Unit is responsible for the response and recovery of military ordnance and suspicious packages found in over 1,700 sq. miles with a population of approximately two million residents in Montgomery, Bucks and Chester Counties. The unit was created in 1973, and assists local, state and federal agencies.
The bomb unit is accredited by the FBI and is ranked 25th out of 466 units in the country. It is one of the busiest bomb units in the U.S. which was reported in 2012 by the National Bomb Squad Commander Advisory Board. They were ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in 2014 for completing their Bomb Arson Tracking System reports within 24 hours. One of their training exercises was featured as the cover story for the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigator’s professional magazine, The Detonator, in the fall of 2013. The unit has also received recognition from ASIS International in 2014 and, the Montgomery County Constables Association in 2015.
The bomb unit consists of six bomb technicians, whom have all completed six weeks of initial training at the FBI Hazardous Devices School in Huntsville, Alabama. They are assisted by two additional bomb unit investigators. Each bomb technician also receives more than 120 hours per year of extensive specialized training with the Philadelphia Police Department Bomb Disposal Unit, monthly in-service training and collaborative mock simulation exercises with other agencies and at various facilities.
The bomb unit also has a strong community outreach program. They host an annual environmentally safe ammo burn of old recovered ammunition, which is dropped off at Montgomery and Chester County police departments by residents. The Wissahickon High School robotics team members loved receiving the bomb unit’s old bomb robot to repair, and unit members regularly provide demonstrations at community events and camps.
Bomb technicians get suited up for a robot rescue mission at Arcadia University’s Crime Scene House.
A bomb technician X-rays a suspicious package during a multi-agency emergency exercise at Arcadia University.
Kids at Cheltenham Township Police Department Cop Camp check out the Bomb Unit’s robot
Sheriff Bono and members of the Bomb Unit (center) loan their old robot (right) to the Wissahickon High School robotics team for repairs and experiments.