Demolition is both an art and a science that incorporates multiple disciplines, including explosives, heavy equipment operation and hazardous waste disposal. While there are many ways to acquire certain skillsets necessary to the trade--including both military and civilian routes--there is no single school or course of instruction that can teach a person everything it takes to become a demolition expert. Experience is the best teacher.
- Skill level:
Determine what kind of demolition work you are interested in pursuing. Military demolition work may require wartime skills such as underwater demolition, structural demolition or even anti-personnel demolition. This requires exceptional physical stamina as well as extensive training by the appropriate branch of the military. Civilian demolition work may not require the same level of physical conditioning, but demolishing old buildings, bridges and other structures still requires a great deal of experience, usually only gained via on-the-job training.
Obtain the appropriate skills. An expert in demolitions has a good understanding of basic construction methods, basic engineering principles, rough carpentry and rigging skills and competency in the use of common hand and power tools. Demolition work frequently involves the use of explosives and heavy equipment, which requires a high degree of proficiency. The ability to stay calm under stressful conditions and to maintain a "safety first" mentality is essential.
Seek out technical colleges and industry training opportunities. Learning institutions offer classroom course work in construction, including courses in demolition. Or you can find a mentor. Many experts recommend finding a company that is involved with the kind of demolition you are interested in learning, hiring on as an apprentice, and working your way up.
Seek out training by the military. Each branch of the military offers demolition training that is specific to its mission. The Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Special Forces, Navy Seals and others all require personnel who are trained in the proper use of demolitions techniques and equipment. Training may include the proper handling of explosives, proper shape charges to cut through specific types of structures, heavy equipment operations, hazardous waste disposal, live explosive (bomb) disposal and safety and crowd control.
Get hands-on experience. According to demolition expert Stacey Loizeaux, 95 per cent of demolition knowledge comes from hands-on experience. Become a keen observer of how different kinds of buildings react to different kinds of demolition techniques.
Tips and warnings
- Demolition workers typically are employed in the construction industry. The job frequently involves the use of heavy equipment, wrecking balls and explosives, but it may also involve hand tools such as sledge hammers, crow bars, shovels and axes.
- Never handle explosives, explosive devices or heavy demolition equipment without proper training. Serious injury or death could result.
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