Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How To Be... a Demolition Expert

When I was a kid, firecrackers were never quite enough. I mean, a single firecracker is rather wimpy. Not that you can get them around here. I don't think my kids have ever even seen a firecracker, but we used to get big bundles of them every Christmas for quite a few years when I was in that 10-year-old range. We got enough of them to get plenty creative with them despite being told not to. But, other than sparklers, we never got any other kinds of fireworks, so we had to do something with them to achieve more spectacular results.

That usually meant experimenting with bundling them together, emptying them out, and blowing things up. Really, though, my favorite was just dropping them into a Coke can. Simple and loud.

I want to believe that people that go into demolition started out that way, playing with firecrackers, but bigger. But I don't know that.

Actually, a good background in construction is necessary if you want to be involved in de-struction. Tell that to any two-year-old, right? My oldest loved to knock things over when he was that age. The only reason ever to put something together, in his mind, was to knock it apart. I sort of imagine demolition people never growing out of that, but, again, I don't know that.

At any rate, it seems that many demolition experts say that hands-on experience is the best training for this particular job. You can get training, especially in the military, but you really need to do it to understand it. Be involved in it. Getting apprenticeships with construction companies that do the kind of demolition you're interested in can be a great way to get training.

The kind of demolition? Isn't demolition just blowing stuff up?

Well, no...

You can excavate, undermine, wrecking ball, explode, implode, and just plain old knocking it over. The demolition expert will need to be able to choose the best option for the job. Of course, building implosion is probably everyone's favorite. It's pretty spectacular and takes a lot of skill and a lot of preparation. Months worth, because any error can be disastrous. An error can include imploding on a day when the cloud cover is too low, which will direct the shock wave out into surrounding buildings rather than dissipate upwards. Yeah, I never considered that either. I would hate to have been the guy to have made that mistake the first time.
Here's one that went as planned:

So, although you can become a demolition expert without any proper schooling, the military is still one of the best ways to get trained in the field. They offer a broader range of experience and one more focused on explosives. If you really want to learn how to blow stuff up, the Army might be a good place to learn.


  1. Demolition is great, although I've never tried it with firecrackers. Tearing out the walls in our house was the most terrific feeling. Grab that sledge hammer and swing!

  2. There's definitely a science to it because that building has to fall apart just right.

  3. Reading your posting made me think of MacGyver and how he could take simple things in the kitchen and create a boom! Mentos and Diet Coke! :) Enjoyed reading!

  4. Yet another job that sounds so much more exciting when you're 5. I think this post needs to be forwarded to all of those rednecks on Youtube who chop down an old building/silo with an axe and then have it fall straight down onto them. It never fails. Every time.

  5. "I want to believe that people that go into demolition started out that way, playing with firecrackers, but bigger."

    That made me smile.
    Look forward to the rest of your challenge posts!
    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  6. From firecrackers to demolition eh? I wonder. That little video, did you notice the top of the building fell sideways?

    I think imploding is fascinating to watch, the demolition people must be worried until they see it happen properly.


  7. Yes. Yes. Yes. I want to be a demolition expert. isn't just blowing stuff up?

    Never mind.

  8. Definitely dedicated, intelligent, skillful minds and hands required for this work! Interesting post.

  9. The sparklers and fireworks brought me back to childhood days of Dad and brothers blowing up cans. What is it with guys and blowing things up?
    Then I watched the video ...unfortunately then I clicked on the 9/11 video there. Hard to take and 44 min. long, but it is a good one on the mistakes made.

  10. Amazing what you can blow up! And the time that went into it.

  11. And here I thought demolition was really all about blowing stuff up. Too much Looney Tunes.

  12. I was just watching Veronica Mars and they were all talking about demolition, but they focused on the building imploding, lol.

  13. Now I want to blow something up. That's a dangerous thought so I better put it right out of my mind.
    What a fun theme you have, very creative!

  14. I still think that would be an awesome job. Building is one thing, but controlled chaos takes the cake.

  15. Back at my old home in Idaho, during the summer we'd go into a huge cave and set off fireworks. The compression of the air made the pops louder.

  16. I enjoy watching a good demolition, but I don't know if I'd want to think about doing it. Then there's that clean up afterwards. What a mess!

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  17. T.: I've never actually done that, but it does sound like fun.

    Alex: Yeah, you should have read about some of the ones where it wrong and buildings fell on other buildings and things like that.

    G_G: I wonder what you can blow up with duct tape?

    ABftS: LOL Yeah, I, um, had friends back in the day given to that sort of thing. Well, not exactly friends. Let's just say the neighbors in my dorm during college did cow tipping on the weekends and leave it at that.

    Damyanti: Well, I hope to see you! There are some good ones coming up. And I'm glad I could make you smile.

    Jo: I did notice that, but I think it still fell in the zone they wanted it in.

    M.J.(1): Well, no, but knocking things down can be fun, too!

    M.J.(2): For buildings and such, yes.

  18. I live by a marine base-those guys know what they're doing when it comes to explosives.

    Nice to meet you.

  19. Donna: I don't really know. However, I do know that my daughter would be the one of my kids most wanting to blow things up if they had that opportunity.

    Dani: It is!

    S.L.: Oh, but Wile E. and Yosemite are the best! Not to mention Marvin.

    Cassie: Well, it is the thing most people want to see (and do).

    Julie: Thank you! And, yeah, don't blow anything up. Unless you have a permit.

    Maurice: Yeah, it's pretty awesome.

    Michael: Yeah, that's why I liked soda cans. We didn't have any caves.

    Lee: Yeah, but I think they make someone else do that part.

  20. Robin: I'm sure they do. Do you ever get to watch?
    Nice to meet you, too!

  21. Cool rundown. I never thought about what would be involved with becoming a demolitions expert. And having to consider things like cloud's a lot more complicated than I expected (and I didn't think it would be all that easy).

  22. Jeanne: It is! The cloud cover thing really surprised me. And there was so much more that I could have talked about... if I'd wanted to write 3000 word post.

  23. Ooh demolition - sounds cathartic. ;)

  24. Fun! That's an impressive video - nice musical accompaniment, too.

  25. has to be just right- just perfect. A true science. What a job.

  26. Sometimes upset me to see a classic building come crashing down, and I thought this would be about the WWF Tag Team Demolition. ;) Nice.. - Novabug

  27. Kimberly: It probably could be, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it.

    TAS: Well, I can't take any credit for that other than finding it.

    Rebecca: Yeah, it does. I can't imagine being responsible for bringing down a building in a city like New York.

    Chris: Yeah, it can be bad when they wreck cool buildings in the name of progress.

  28. Aside from building sand cities and populating them with army men... and then burying M-80's in the sand and watching the destruction... I was always too scared to seriously try blowing stuff up. I'll happily leave that to the experts.

  29. Rusty: I never had M-80's. Or cherry bombs, or anything bigger than your standard firecracker. Occasionally, I got to have bottle rockets.