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Demonstrations Teach First Responders About Dangers Of IEDs

CARMEL, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A series of explosions brought dozens of police officers and firefighters to a stone quarry in Putnam County Tuesday, but it wasn't a crime scene.

As CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported, the quarry actually a classroom, teaching first responders about the dangers of improvised explosive devices.

The right combination of everyday chemicals in a mason jar is all it takes for a criminal or terrorist to make an explosive point.

First responders from dozens of area agencies got a noisemaking, ground-shaking lesson in the dangers they might face in the field, as the FBI set a tire on fire and blew up a raw chicken, among other demonstrations.

"They take away respect for the danger and the energy that these commercial and improvised explosives have," said FBI Special Agent Peter Licata.

FBI bomb experts worked with the Paladin Center – a new Homeland Security training center based in Putnam County -- to show police officers and firefighters how substances such as brake fluid and drain cleaner can be weaponized.

They also showed how even a tiny blasting cap can do big damage to bone and flesh.

Yonkers Fire Chief John Darcy said the training exercise will help firefighters recognize dangers they might never have noticed.

"Something you might see walking into someone's house, not realize what you are seeing -- now you know through this training; just giving you a level of awareness what to look out for," Darcy said.

The U.S. saw 172 IED incidents between October and March. The Boston Marathon bombings further drove home the need for further training – especially in the suburbs.

"Historically, your bombing plots start in the suburbs. They start under the radar, so this is the area where it's going to happen," said Felix Carcano of the Paladin Center.

Seeing the effects of the explosives -- hearing blast after blast and feeling a concussive force -- all makes a very strong impression on the first responders.

"To feel the force of the explosions, it's impressive," Darcy said.

Business representatives also attended the training to learn more about suspicious purchases that should be noted or even reported.

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