Behind The Scenes Of The Fort Smith Bomb Squad

The Fort Smith Bomb Squad held an event Thursday night to give locals an inside look at what members of the squad do.

The backbone of the squad is a robot named Graci, said Fort Smith Fire Department Battalion Chief Phil Christensen.

“This little girl named it Graci because it saves people’s lives by the grace of God,” he said.

The robot costs about $200,000. The robot assists the bomb squad and can detonate a potential bomb.

The squad also has 107-pound bomb suits that come in at $25,000 each.

“A guy from Canada makes them,” said Fort Smith bomb technician Jesse Chandler. “The reason they are popular is the guy that makes them blows himself up in them. No other bomb suit maker has done that. So he will go out put his suit on blow himself up and say, ‘I challenge another company to do that.’”

Bomb squad members also took the occasion to remind people what to do if they come across a suspicious package.

“Call 911,” said Chandler. “Don’t mess with it. If you can, keep everybody away. We are going to move everybody 400 or 500 feet away when we get there.”

The Fort Smith Bomb Squad is the only one for several area counties. One of the nearest bomb squads is based in Bentonville.

The Fort Smith Bomb Squad said the unit gets about 30 bomb calls per year.

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