Author: Force Science Institute
By James Careless, P1 Contributor
With domestic terrorist attacks being a growing concern for U.S. police departments, many are choosing to acquire one or more EOD response trucks to deal with suspected bombs in their jurisdictions. These rugged, blast-hardened vehicles are designed to efficiently carry bomb disposal technicians, their protective suits and tools, and mobile bomb disposal robots to bomb incident scenes to defuse and/or remove possible explosive devices before they go off.
If your department plans to acquire its first EOD response truck, or add new vehicles to an existing fleet, here are some points to consider when you spec out the truck.
Budget comes first
When it comes to acquiring an EOD response truck, “the biggest barrier is the cost,” said bomb disposal expert Brian Knudsen. He is Director of Business Development and Public Relations with the United States Bomb Technician Association, and a17-year veteran with the Colorado County Sheriff’s Office. “So before you start pulling together plans and contacting vendors, figure out how much money you’ve got to work with,” he said.
Get what you need
The key to getting maximum value for an EOD response truck purchase is by paying only for what you need. There is no point buying a truck strong enough to resist roadside IEDs (improvised explosive devices) like those used in Afghanistan, if your department is serving a relatively peaceful suburban area.
“Similarly, EOD response trucks in America don’t need the kind of protection from hostile forces that is required overseas,” said Knudsen. “Don’t spend money on this protection unless you actually need it.”
Select an EOD response truck that is suited for the temperature range, weather variations and driving conditions in a police department’s specific jurisdiction.
For instance, if the jurisdiction gets hot in the summer, air conditioning is a must. If the winters are bitterly cold, then insulation and good heaters are mandatory.
If you drive in rough roads, don’t forget four-wheel drive.
What do you need to carry?
An EOD response truck is primarily a transportation platform. This means it has to carry all the people and equipment necessary to handle bomb situations from the station house to the incident scene.
The vehicle must have enough room for bomb suits, x-ray equipment, bomb disposal tools and protective equipment – plus robotic bomb disposal units and the onboard equipment to control them, receive live video from the units’ cameras and communicate this information to the outside world.
That’s not all: The EOD response truck will need to carry antennas, and have enough power to run all the systems onboard with room to spare for future additions. As well, the vehicle may need to tow a trailer-mounted Total Containment Vessel (TCV) for safe bomb disposal, or have enough space on its truck bed to have one mounted.
“There is a whole range of items that an EOD response truck can be expected to carry, and it varies from department to department,” Knudsen said. “The smart thing to do is to compile a list of what your department wants to have on the truck and then review the options for doing so with vendors; both to see what is available and what these options cost.”
Get advice from other departments
It makes no sense to reinvent the wheel: When your department specs out an EOD response truck, talk to other departments that already have these trucks for their buying advice.
This will let you know which vendors make the most reliable EOD response trucks, deliver on their product promises and provide consistent after-sales service 24/7.
About the author James Careless is a freelance writer with extensive experience covering law enforcement topics.