Maryland State Fire Marshal

News Release
Martin O’Malley Governor Fire Marshal William E. Barnard State

PIKESVILLE, MD (March 18, 2013) – The potential for citizens to receive a suspicious package or locate an explosive device exists in today’s environment. The Office of the State Fire Marshal is offering the below listed safety tips when dealing with the possibilities of encountering suspected explosive devices.

Suspicious Package
A suspicious package or letter may contain explosives, chemicals or even biological agents. If you are unsure of the package or letter, do not handle or touch it. Instead, isolate the area and contact 911. • Be wary of packages that are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar. • Do not touch or move it if: Wires are protruding, Aluminum foil is visible, Emits a strange odor, Displays odd staining, etc. • Misspellings of common words, threatening language, unusual labeling, excessive postage and restrictive endorsements such as: Personal, Confidential or Do Not X-ray are potential signs of a suspected device. • A missing return address, excessive tape or string, lopsided or oddly shaped packages are warning signs.

Suspected Explosive Device
An explosive device is placed or fabricated in an improvised manner incorporating destructive, lethal, noxious, pyrotechnic, or incendiary chemicals and designed to destroy, incapacitate, harass, or distract. • Do not touch or attempt to move a suspected explosive device.

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• Isolate and evacuate the area immediately and call 911. • Explosive devices can be very unstable. They are sensitive to movement, friction, impact, electronics, heat and may even detonate without warning. • Devices large or small can cause serious injuries or death. • Explosive devices have no limit on type or design. If you are unsure if the object is a potential explosive device, call 911 for professional assistance. Military ordnance is occasionally located in areas that were utilized by the U.S. Government in the past, as well as, in some homes, garages and sheds of military veterans. Until these devices are rendered safe by a trained professional, they can be very unstable. Devices manufactured by an individual are considered to be Improvised Explosives Devices (IED’s). These types of devices are extremely unstable and are illegal to possess. The possession, manufacture and use of these devices is a felony. The penalty for an IED is 25 years imprisonment and/or $250,000 in fines per device. “Whether military or improvised, explosive devices can cause serious bodily harm or death when handled improperly,” Stated State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard. “Should Marylanders locate a suspected device, be proactive and notify the proper authorities to protect all citizens from needless injuries from these devices”.


The Office of the State Fire Marshal is an agency of the Department of State Police dedicated to helping protect citizens from fire and explosion through a comprehensive program of education, inspection, investigation and fire protection engineering. For more information on fire safety call 1-800-525-3124, log onto our website at: and/or

Media contact: Bruce D. Bouch, Deputy State Fire Marshal; 443-324-6876

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