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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


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!

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