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IAFC Members Urged to Remain Vigilant for Acts of Terrorism

May 15, 2010

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IAFC On Scene: May 15, 2010




As the May 1, 2010, incident in Times Square and other recent events have demonstrated, fire departments must remain alert and prepared to respond to possible acts of terrorism. Based on discussions with the New York Fire Department (FDNY), the IAFC’s Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee has developed the following reminders for fire departments to consider when responding to an incident:


FDNY developed a PowerPoint presentation with information on the May 1 incident.

  • Situational awareness is key – It’s important to thoroughly size up a situation before taking action. The responding FDNY unit used a thermal imager to scan the vehicle and took the time to assess the situation.
  • Look for signs out of the ordinary – In the Times Square incident, the vehicle was parked haphazardly. There was no visible fire and only white smoke emanating from the rear of the vehicle. Popping sounds were heard coming from the vehicle and the responding firefighters smelled the odor of fireworks.
  • Work with local law enforcement – It’s important to establish and maintain close relationships with your law-enforcement counterparts to ensure smooth operations during potential terrorist incidents. While sizing up the scene in Times Square, the FDNY conferred with the responding police units. The police ran the vehicle’s license plates and determined that they weren’t registered.
  • Take the necessary precautions to ensure firefighter and public safety – After deciding that this could be a terrorist incident, the FDNY took actions to protect life. The apparatus and personnel were repositioned to a safe area, the police evacuated the public from the scene and special units were called to help with the situation.

The IAFC recommends that fire departments remain vigilant, when responding to potential incidents involving IEDs, in order to prevent injury to first responders and the general public.


The IAFC’s publication, Terrorism Response: A Checklist and Guide for Fire Chiefs, offers helpful information on how to make sure your fire department is prepared to respond to a potential act of terrorism.