Prohibition against building acid bombs in schools


Building an acid bomb in class, even as part of instruction, is not allowed under Maine law and is a Class C crime.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal has notified the Department of Education that, for the second year in a row, a teacher in a Maine school has apparently planned to show students how to make an acid bomb, also known as a “Works” or “MacGyver” bomb. This type of bomb is made by combining an acid and a base substance in a container.  Pressure from the gas created by that combination builds within the container, causing an explosion.  The Works bomb is a type of “improvised explosive device” (IED), and can cause severe injury and damage.

According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, making such a bomb without a permit is a Class C crime under Maine law.  A Class C crime is considered a felony crime, and carries a potential prison term of up to 5 years and a fine up to $5,000.

In addition to facing potential criminal liability, a person who is subject to Department of Education certification requirements and makes such a bomb could face certification action by the Department.

For the safety of students and school staff, as well as the avoidance of serious criminal liability and certification penalties, please ensure that school officials and teachers are made aware of this issue on an ongoing basis and take steps to avoid exposing students and staff to the dangers of making any improvised explosive device, even as an educational exercise.

For more information, contact Assistant Fire Marshal Joseph E. Thomas at or 207-626-3872. The mailing address of the State Fire Marshal is 52 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0052.

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