Today’s Debate: Terrorist Response Tactics–Comments

The final results for the Terrorist Response Tactics Debate are: 15 agree that the fire service should focus more training on terrorist response tactics, with 3 disagreeing.

“Yes. The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 have showed how the emergency services community was ill prepared. The events that followed (anthrax scares) left many of us with quickly putting plans into effect. Fortunately for my department, the state of NJ has [integrated] a WMD course into its annual hazardous materials awareness training. The state has also [gone] to the operations level. This course has given me some insight into what to expect. But more training is needed, and needed yesterday.”


“Yes. Especially departments outlying the larger cities by 60 to 75 miles.”


“Yes. A simple yes/no question does this particular topic no justice. The Professional Firefighter is being challenged to acquire and stay current in a rapidly-escalating list of topics. Fire Chiefs insist that line-personnel meet monthly measurables such as inspections, equipment testing/maintenance, special projects, customer service contacts, public education, and minimum proficiency training. When do we reach a point that we can’t fit any more on the plate? Are we there already? Are “Technician Teams” the answer?

The “First-Due” fire officer is faced with many tactical choices that frankly, can make or break the safety and eventual outcome of an incident. Terrorist Incident Response Tactics starts with recognition (discovery or self-announcing). Do we need to train first-due officers how to make a quick recognition of Terrorists incidents? YES. Do we need to develop tactics based on this recognition? YES. Do we need to change our priorities with day-to-day activities to provide this training? YES. Do we need to re-engineer the roles and responsibilities (and schedules) of suppression/response crews? YES.

Simply adding topics to the training plate isn’t the answer – we have left behind the basics as we continualy ADD to the topics plate. A new priority-based system of training, education, and response procedures is required. I don’t have the answers – yet. I will say however, that we need to MASTER some basics before we add more topics. With less fires and more EMS, we have shifted some emphasis. Can you “read smoke” accurately? Can you clearly categorize the risk of a given incident – and adjust tactics accordingly? Do you practice defensive tactics with offensive gain? Does “2002-built” automatically change your tactics? Do you know what your “window of opportunity” is for using offensive tactics?

Welcome to the 2002 and beyond Fire Service!”


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