New York City firefighters, along with their counterparts in other large cities, remain on the front lines of the Global War on Terror; as demonstrated by the Times Square bombing attempt earlier this year.
But regardless of where you live and work, terrorism remains a threat and all fire departments must ensure their members keep a high index of suspicion when approaching even seemingly "routine" incidents.
The actions of Captain Barvels and the crews from FDNY Engine 54/Ladder 4 when approaching this apparent "car fire" are an outstanding example of developing situational awareness and selecting the right strategic/tactical approach for addressing a suspicious situation.
Not only did they establish a safe perimeter and request NYPD assistance, instead of simply trying to extinguish the fire, they considered the possibility of a secondary device, a popular tactic for targeting first responders.
Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) remain a major threat, both home and abroad. All firefighters should approach suspicious vehicles with extreme caution and not take anything for granted; even on a "routine" car fire.
A 2005 article on the PoliceOne.com website provides a great overview of the VBIED threat, which you can read about here.
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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