morning. It is a pleasure to be here to open
this brand new, state-of-the-art hazardous devices
On behalf of Director Mueller, I want to thank
everyone who helped make this new facility possible
and who has contributed to the success of the
Hazardous Devices School over the years: Congressman
Bud Kramer, Senator Richard Shelby, Mayor Loretta
Spencer and Mayor Jan Wells, as well as Dr.
Dwight Adams, who heads up the FBI Lab. I also
want to thank Locke McKnight, owner of GSC Construction
of Waynesboro, Georgia, which did all the work
on the facility.
I want to particularly thank the U.S. Army.
The school is operated in partnership with the
U.S. Army Ordnance Munitions and Electronic
Maintenance School, and the Army provided more
than 400 acres of land for the facility and
ranges. The entire project was managed by the
Mobile District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
My particular thanks go out to Brigadier General
Vincent Boles, Colonel Joyce Napier, Colonel
Michael Walsh, and Installation Commander Robert
The new Hazardous Devices School facility is
specifically designed to accommodate training
on today’s state-of-the-art bomb equipment,
including robots and other tools. There are
only two bomb training facilities of this caliber
in the world -- the other is in the United Kingdom.
Here in the United States, this is the only
facility authorized to accredit and train civilian
public safety bomb squads. The modern classroom
buildings and practical exercise training villages
will allow us to better meet the needs of the
more than 450 accredited bomb squads around
the United States.
Three years ago last Saturday, two graduates
of this school – FBI Special Agent Lenny
Hatton and New York Police Detective Danny Richards
– were killed in the line of duty. They
and approximately 3,000 others – emergency
responders, innocent civilians, and military
personnel – became victims of a new kind
of explosive device. Something no one had imagined.
Passenger planes turned into bombs.
After the September 11 th attacks, counterterrorism
became the FBI’s number one priority,
and this school is at the core of our terrorism
response. We rely on its graduates to guard
against and to respond to terrorist bomb threats
around the country and overseas. HDS graduates
were stationed at the Olympic games in Athens
and at the Republican and Democratic National
Conventions here at home. They have been detailed
to Iraq and other hotspots throughout the world.
And every three years they come back here to
be brought up-to-date on the latest tools and
techniques for dealing with suicide bombers,
large vehicle bombs, weapons of mass destruction,
and other threats.
Since its opening in 1971, the Hazardous Devices
School has trained thousands of bomb squad technicians
and managers. More than 1100 students pass through
these doors each year for certification, recertification,
or additional training. Since September 11,
2001, the school has accredited more than 50
new bomb squads.
In addition to training and accreditation, the
FBI also provides equipment. The Florence bomb
squad right here in Alabama received its national
accreditation and thousands of dollars in equipment
after two of its officers attended training
here last year, including a portable X-ray machine
and a mobile radiation detector. Most of the
equipment was provided on permanent loan, and
the rest was provided until the department could
buy its own. In all, the FBI has bought gear
for more than 400 agencies, and all of it is
standardized. This means that a bomb tech from
Alabama should have no problem operating equipment
in Texas, New York, or anywhere else in the
Our nation’s police and fire departments
are the front line of defense against terrorists
and criminals. Providing them with equipment
and training is key to our counterterrorism
mission. But the Hazardous Devices School provides
an even more important benefit; it helps to
build strong networks and relationships among
first responders around the country. Neither
the FBI nor even the U.S. Army can protect our
country alone. We need the expertise and support
of our partners in state and local law enforcement.
And I want to thank all of the law enforcement
officers and bomb squad technicians that are
here with us today for their commitment to protecting
and serving our country.
There is a popular t-shirt out there that reads,
“I am a bomb squad technician. If you
see me running, try to keep up.” But the
reality is that bomb techs are the ones running
in when everyone else is running out. Lenny
Hatton, Danny Richards, and the other HDS graduates
who have lost their lives in the line of duty
are a testament to that fact. It’s our
job here to train bomb techs to be as safe and
effective as possible. And then it’s their
job to go out and protect everyone else.
On behalf of the entire FBI, I want to thank
all of you who have supported the Hazardous
Devices School, its dedicated graduates, and
this new facility. With your help, we can continue
to help save lives. Thank you and God bless.