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Active shooter resources for firefighters

Considering the increasing frequency of these complex and chaotic incidents, fire departments need a formalized response plan


Evidence markers rest on the street at the scene of a mass shooting Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Active shooter events have become a tragic staple of our news cycle. The horrific events in Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo, N.Y., and, in past years El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, amplify this new reality.

Fire department training and rescue task force deployment

FireRescue1 asked the FireRescue1 community, “Does your department train with other agencies for active shooter events?” While 60% of respondents answered “Yes, both EMS and law enforcement,” another 14% answered “Yes, law enforcement.” While these responses show some level of coordination among agencies, it also highlights a significant gap, as more than one-quarter of respondents answered “No.”

FireRescue1 also asked the FireRescue1 community, “Does your department deploy a Rescue Task Force for active shooter events?” The results were near evenly split, with 46% answering “Yes” and 49% answering “No.” Another 3% answered “What’s a Rescue Task Force,” with another 3% answering “Unsure.”


Active shooter stats and resources

The FBI reports there were 277 active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2018, and 61 designated active shooter incidents in 2021. And the statistics paint a bleak picture for what’s ahead, with the number of incidents typically increasing year over year.

Considering the increasing frequency of these complex and chaotic incidents, fire departments need a formalized response plan – one that’s unified with EMS and police.

There are several active shooter event-related resources firefighters and other first responders can use to help develop such plans:

With the growing focus on the all-hazards mission of the fire service – one that increasingly necessitates working with other agencies – it’s critical that fire departments do everything possible to prepare for the new normal of active shooter events, never assuming that “it can’t happen here.”

Read next: How to avoid the most common active shooter training mistakes

This article, originally published in August 2019, has been updated.

Janelle Foskett is the editor-in-chief of and, responsible for defining original editorial content, tracking industry trends, managing expert contributors and leading execution of special coverage efforts. She also serves as the co-host of FireRescue1’s Better Every Shift podcast. Foskett joined the Lexipol team in 2019 and has nearly 20 years of experience in fire service media and publishing. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and a certificate in technical communications from the University of California, San Diego. Ask questions or submit ideas via email.