Explosive Breaching comes to TEEX

2/25/2008 12:00 AM

The Texas Engineering Extension Service, or TEEX, is a member of the Texas A&M University System and is best known for its facilities that train firefighters and urban search and rescue teams from around the world.

But TEEX is also home to the second-largest police academy in Texas and to the only accredited Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) Tech-l program in the United States. From that program, a new, dynamic explosive breaching course has been born.

Three years ago, I was lucky enough to meet TEEX's UXO coordinator, Ed Fritz, through my good friend, Retired Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Senior Chief Robert "Bing" Crosby. Fritz is also retired from Navy EOD with more than 20 years experience in the field.

Working part-time with these gentlemen was a dream-corne-true. Though I was brought out to help teach demolition procedures, I also found myself learning from these men who I respect so much. The instructors Fritz assembles for each UXO class - there are five a year - together have more than 150 years combined experience.

In 2006, I was asked by TEEX to create an explosive breaching course which, as it turned out, was fairly easy: All I had to do was bring together Fritz and his cadre of instructors who performed explosive breaching in the military for years. The only real issue was getting the instructors to scale-down to civilian breaching, which also proved to be a snap.

In mid-November 2007, several students from around the state attended and evaluated TEEX's week-long pilot course. Lectures from Fritz and from retired Master Chief Rex Shipp - the creator of the UXO course a decade earlier - began the course, but activities moved from the classroom to the demolition range where several large shots were prepared for the "handler's" portion Of the course. The first day culminated with a large DATA sheet being attached to a Class-l metal door which was obliterated - a perfect example of "what not to do."

Day Two brought more classroom time and a focus on net explosive weight (NEW) formulas. Then it was back to the range, where students prepared more than 10 shots using theirNEW calculations. The four permanent door frames at the TEEX demolition range saw plenty of action and left students looking forward to the remainder of the week.

Day Three entirely was spent making charges and executing them on a variety of door types. Nearly 20 shots were accomplished on this day alone.

A change of pace awaited us on Day Four, when Remotec - a division of Northrop Grumman that manufactures unmanned vehicle systems - brought and demonstrated three robots during breaching procedures. Students were allowed to drive the robots and use them to breach doors, which was a huge hit. Following lunch, it was back to the range to make and detonate more charges well into the evening.

On Day Five, Sandy Wall demonstrated his invention, the Wall Blaster, to students and provided a great end to the week. Final exams were taken and course evaluations revealed that TEEX had developed a tremendous explosive breaching course. The bonus for me was meeting the students and continuing to learn more about this industry from some of the best.

TEEX's next explosive breaching class will be scheduled in spring 2008. Keep checking www.teex.org/publicsafetyto find out more. Hope to see you there!

Contact Information

Kathy Fraser

Director of Marketing and Communications

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