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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Bomb-plot arrests a reason to review preparedness

The lesson from potential terrorist plots being thwarted is for fire departments to review their procedures and level of readiness

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel tells us that the take-away from stories of thwarted bombing plots is to examine how we are supposed to respond to these threats, and how prepared we are to respond.

Unfortunately, the use of "bombs" and explosive devices is hardly a novel threat for the fire and emergency services.

I think I went to my first bombing incident, a pipe bomb at a private suburban residence, more than 20 years ago. Since then, we've seen numerous tragic events, both at home and overseas, where explosives or incendiary devices were used to kill and injure: Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center, Beirut, and on and on.

We're probably all familiar with the now-common terms: improvised explosive device (IED) and vehicle borne IED (VBIED).

But the more important question is whether or not we've trained to recognize the potential for IEDs and, in concert with our law enforcement partners (both inside and outside the fire service), safely deal with them.

For most firefighters, that means keeping a high index of suspicion during incidents where key words are present in the dispatch, and always maintaining situational awareness on even seemingly "routine" calls. It also means having the discipline to stage away from the scene, or even to leave the scene if suspicious devices, chemicals or people are present.

Furthermore, it's important to understand your local or regional protocols for addressing IEDs, both left- and right- of "boom."

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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