Can You Defuse A Bomb By Cutting A Wire?

Quite a few plots are repeatedly used in movies, and yet they never fail to amaze us. One such scene is where the hero comes across a bomb and saves everyone by cutting a wire. In most cases, there’s a timer that displays the backwards countdown to the explosion. Usually, the bomb is defused within just a few seconds remaining on the timer.

Having seen such scenes in movies, it makes us wonder if bombs can really be defused by just cutting a wire. To understand if a bomb can be defused by cutting a wire, here are some important things to know.

Do all bombs have wires?  – Among the first things we need to know is whether all bombs have wires. The answer is no because there are various types of bombs that can be created without wires. It will depend on the type of fuse used in the bomb.

An improvised explosive device (IED) usually comprises the main charge, switch, initiator, power source and a container. The fuse used can be mechanical, chemical or pyrotechnic. In these cases, the bomb may not have any major wires running through them. A bomb will have wires if the fuse used is an electronic unit.

How does the bomb disposal squad find the right wire to cut? – In the world of bomb disposal, every bomb is a new challenge. Of course, the basics are largely the same for most bombs. However, the type of explosive material used, timer, fuse and wiring layout give every bomb a unique identity. Bomb disposal squads use their experience and training to identify the right wire to be cut.

Wherever available, they also rely on portable X-ray machines to understand the design of the bomb. Some bombs may be booby-trapped, which makes things even more complicated for the bomb disposal squad. Thankfully, we now have robots that can be operated remotely from a distance.

Does the color of wire matter when defusing a bomb? – In movies, there appears to be an attempt to choose the wire to be cut based on its color. However, in a real world scenario, it is unlikely that the bomb maker will worry about following wire color code instructions. They are likely to use whatever wire they may have.

So, the bomb disposal squad is unlikely to focus on the color of wire. They will rather focus on identifying the different parts of the bomb. They will then cut the wire that will deactivate the fuse or cut the power supply to the initiator.

What to do if you spot a bomb or suspicious object? – Bomb disposal squad members receive extensive training and they are continuously updating their knowledgebase. How they work is mostly kept a secret. It seems easy to think that just cutting the wire to the battery will deactivate the bomb. However, IEDs can be a lot more complex and harder to defuse.

If you spot a suspicious object, you should immediately inform the respective manager or administrator. You can also call 911 if there is no facility supervisor. Make sure you do not touch, move or try to open the package. You should evacuate the area and ask others to do the same in a calm manner.

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