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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Quick thinking by FDNY shows need for terror threat awareness

Regardless of where you live and work, all fire departments must keep a high index of suspicion when approaching even seemingly "routine" incidents

When responding to daily emergencies it is sometimes easy to forget the continued threat from terrorists, foreign and domestic, that we face throughout the United States.

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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