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Tom Thurman

Photo of Tom Thurman

Bio  •  Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

  • Department: Fire Protection and Paramedicine Sciences
  • Mailing Address: Ashland 124
  • Email:
  • Phone: (859)622-1052


James T. Thurman, Tom, has worked in the explosives field for over thirty years, first as an Army Bomb Disposal Technician and then as a Special Agent with the FBI.  As a Supervisory Special Agent in the FBI Laboratory, he forensically examined the exploded remains of hundreds of improvised explosive devices and travel extensively throughout the United States and the world to collect evidence and conduct bombing scene investigations.  These investigations have included the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon in 1983 and 1984, the bombing of the Marine Barracks, also in Lebanon in 1983, the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the bombing deaths of a Federal Judge in Alabama and an attorney in Georgia in 1989 and the 1993 Bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.  Prior to his retirement from the FBI in 1998, Thurman was the Chief of the FBI Bomb Data Center, whose responsibilities included the training of all public safety bomb disposal technicians in the United States.

Thurman has and continues to lecture and provide training into the methods of bomb scene investigation, terrorism crime scene investigation and explosives avoidance to domestic and international training schools and audiences.  He is member of a number of professional organizations, which include the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators (IABTI), as an advisor, National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI) and the International Society of Explosives Engineers (ISEE).  Thurman is a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) and Certified Vehicle Fire Investigator (CVFI) under the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI).  As a member of various national planning panels, he participated in the preparation of two best practice guides published by the U.S. Department of Justice; Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for Law Enforcement and A Guide for Explosion and Bombing Scene Investigation.  Additionally, he is the sub-committee chair of the Training and Education sub-committee for the Technical Working Group for Fire and Explosions (TWGFEX) under the National Center for Forensic Science, University of Central Florida.  Thurman is the author of Practical Bomb Scene Investigation published by CRC Press in 2006.  This book is the first comprehensive work on the subject and includes over 500 pages and 200 photographs and diagrams, in addition to an extensive chapter on the investigative methods employed at the post blast scene, chapters on explosion dynamics, identification of commercial and military explosives, pre and post blast identification of bomb construction components, weapons of mass destruction, military ordnance identification features and the capabilities of the forensic laboratory in the examination of bomb debris and reading the bombers’ signature.

Thurman currently is a Professor at Eastern Kentucky University teaching in a unique academic program, Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigation.  He holds a B.A from Eastern Kentucky University and a M.S. degree in Forensic Science from George Washington University, Washington, D. C.

Primary Areas of Academic Interest:

Fire and Explosion Investigation and Analysis; Bombing Crime Scene Investigation; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Render Safe Procedures – Bomb Squad; Large Vehicle Improvised Explosive Devices; Suicide Improvised Explosive Devices; Hazardous Materials

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