Explosives Risk Management: ATF Training to Improve Explosives Safety

Special Agent Johnny Masengale was involved in a two-year investigation of a clandestine explosives factory in Bremerton, Washington. On May 5, 1992, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) executed a federal search warrant and seized 6,000 illegal improvised explosive devices (IEDs), 300 pounds of explosive precursors, and large quantities of miscellaneous IED components. Because the IEDs and precursors were a significant safety hazard, it was decided they should be promptly destroyed. The following day at Fort Lewis, Agent Masengale, accompanied by ATF explosives enforcement officers and an ATF chemist, segregated the IEDs and precursors into smaller quantities for destruction. As Agent Masengale prepared one of the “shots,” it spontaneously exploded, causing serious burns on over 80 percent of his body. Agent Masengale succumbed to his injuries shortly thereafter.