Part of the National Response Team Program, the International Response Team (IRT) is the result of an agreement between ATF and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). The agreement originally allowed ATF to assist in the investigation of select fire and postblast scenes where the DSS has investigative responsibility.
Now, foreign governments may request that ATF provide technical/forensic assistance and oversight in arson and explosives investigations. The Department of State, after receiving authorization from the U.S. ambassador for the affected country, relays such requests for assistance to ATF.
The IRT is comprised of four supervisory special agents, a cadre of fire origin-and-cause specialists, and explosives specialists having postblast expertise. These individuals are supplemented by a number of explosives technology experts and forensic chemists.
The IRT has traveled abroad to foreign countries to assist in investigating large-vehicle bombings; providing technical support in the disassembly of improvised explosive devices; and to provide investigative oversight in large-scale fires that resulted in a massive loss of life and/or property loss estimated in the millions of dollars.
IRT activations include an Albanian ammunition depot explosion in April 2008 that killed 26 people, wounded approximately 400 others, and destroyed or damaged over 4,000 homes and businesses; the recovery of several improvised explosive devices in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in January 2008; and a nightclub bombing in Bogota, Colombia, that killed 32 people in February 2003.
Inquiries about the IRT may be directed to the Chief, Arson and Explosives Enforcement Branch, at 202-648-7100.