Technical Rescue

Responding to Target Buildings in a Terrorist Attack: Are Your Crews Prepared?

Issue 9 and Volume 163.

BY JACK J. MURPHY and JAMES P. ELLSON Local fire departments that have terrorist targets such as government buildings, stadiums, malls, hotels, institutions such as hospitals or schools, and high-rise occupancies in their jurisdictions must address considerations unique to these targets in a terroristic crisis. Successful response depends on advance preparation, particularly the development of an all-hazard emergency action plan (EAP) that has been practiced. The EAP must be coordinated with the building’s life safety and security features and staff as well as with local fire, police, and emergency management departments. An EAP for a target building should provide for a designated lead person to enhance building communications; formalize evacuation and transportation modes—for example, regulate the use of elevator cars, stairs, and escalators; and maintain crowd-control positions along the evacuation routes to an exterior assembly point. Having a capable and experienced person to direct the initial first few minutes of…

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