Prevention & Preparedness
FireHouse 101
The Job

I just received a bomb threat, what do I do?

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San Diego Sheriff Bomb Arson Unit disposes of illegal fireworks

The San Diego Sheriff Bomb/Arson Until disposes of illegal fireworks. Online video shows the explosive power of these tiny toys at Sheriff Website. Explosion footage starts at 1:45.

The ATF reports that there are more than 5,000 “explosive incidents” each year in the United States, which include bombings, attempted bombings, incendiary bombings, stolen explosives, etc.

If you receive a call, remain calm. The more information you can obtain, the better you will be able to assist law enforcement to protect those in the building and find the bomb and perpetrator.

Follow these tips if you receive a bomb threat:

If a bomb threat is received by handwritten note:

  • Call 911.
  • Handle note as minimally as possible.

If a bomb threat is received by email:

  • Call 911.
  • Do not delete the message.

During the call:

  • Try to keep the caller talking as long as possible.
  • If your phone has a display, copy the number and/or letters on the window display.
  • Complete the Department of Homeland Security’s Bomb Threat Checklist immediately. Write down as much detail as you can remember. Try to get exact words.
  • Even after the caller hangs up, DO NOT HANG UP!
  • If possible, write a note to a colleague to call the authorities.

Immediately after the call:

  • Evacuate the building. (Take your checklist with you.) If you have panic lights or an intercom, use them to calmly alert people to evacuate. If you have no other option, pull the fire alarm.
  • Call 911.
  • Counsel people to wait at least 500 feet away from the building/facility. (See Distance from blast graphic below from National Counterterrorism Center.)

Do not:

  • Search for any device. Leave that to  the professionals.
  • Do not move a suspicious package or use two-way radios or cellular phones near the device; radio signals have the potential to detonate a bomb.
  • Once you are safely out, remain clear of the building and stay in the assembly areas.  Make sure your co-workers are accounted for.

Set up a company emergency plan:

We recommend that if your company does not already have an emergency plan that includes bomb threats, talk with management about developing one. It could be a life and death decision.

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Bomb Threat Stand-Off Distances

This section was developed by the National Counterterrorism Center for general emergency planning only. A given building’s vulnerability to explosions depends on its construction and composition. The data in these tables may not accurately reflect these variables. Some 
risk will remain for any persons closer than the Outdoor Evacuation Distance. More information on bomb blasts is available on their website.

Bomb blast distances