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September 17, 2013 Previous day Next day

During the September 2013 meeting of the Urban Fire Forum at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, MA, fire chiefs from around the world endorsed an important document on active shooter and mass casualty terrorist events.

"The emerging threat of terrorism and asymmetric warfare, specifically small unit “active shooter” and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, is a concern for the fire service. An attack by radicals armed with weapons in public areas, such as schools, shopping malls, churches or any other locations where people congregate is a real threat to a sense of security and daily lives."

Download the position paper as well as free resources, courtesy of Chief Jim Schwartz of Arlington County, VA, to help a community's fire service prepare for an active shooter or mass casualty terrorist event.

The Urban Fire Forum brings together the fire chiefs who are responsible for protecting some of the largest urban centers in the world.

Local fire departments must work with police and emergency medical services in responding to events that include an armed gunman, whether the threat is known, as it was in the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting or unknown, as in the ambush in Webster, New York, in which two firefighters were killed.

In their recent article “ Strength in Numbers,” Russ Sanders and Ben Klaene report on an April meeting at which more than 40 leaders from the fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and government agencies discussed ways to better integrate, coordinate, and improve responses to mass-casualty shootings.

NFPA's Robert Solomon talks about "lockdowns" and how explains how procedures and protocols prescribed by NFPA's codes and standards need examination with regards to active shooter and other hazardous events. 


From the NFPA Journal archives

by Steve Corich
NFPA Journal, September/October 2008

Recent college shootings have driven home a number of lessons for law enforcement officials. One of those is the importance of rapidly notifying students and employees of emergencies so that life-saving action can begin immediately. Officials at Virginia Tech were criticized for waiting too long to notify the campus population of events unfolding during last year’s campus shooting, and nearly every college in the United States has examined or is examining its ability to notify students and employees of danger.
Some state legislatures have recently passed laws requiring their schools and universities to implement reliable and comprehensive mass notification systems (MNS). The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 requires that all postsecondary institutions make “timely warnings to the campus community about crimes that pose an ongoing threat to students and employees.” Above and beyond state or federal legislation, we in public safety have a moral and ethical obligation to provide the safest possible environment for our students and employees.
Mesa Community College (MCC) in Arizona recently experienced two all-campus lockdowns as a result of threats by nonstudent intruders involving firearms. Sworn MCC Public Safety officers safely and successfully dealt with the threats with assistance from the City of Mesa Police Department.

Read the full NFPA Journal article on campus mass notification.

The new issue of NFPA Journal looks at the fire service role in preparing for and responding to mass-casualty shootings. The article, by Russ Sanders and Ben Klaene, talks about a recent meeting in Virginia that brought together fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and government agencies to discuss a unified approach to these events. Some of the issues discussed:

  • raising awareness of the differences in response protocols
  • integrating planning and training efforts
  • practical exercises across disciplines
  • using the National Incident Management System/Incident Command System (NIMS/ICS) as the platform for all state and local incident response efforts
  • increasing communication interoperability to ensure an integrated response
  • understanding the value of aggressively responding to active shooter incidents
  • making sure all first responders have the best equipment available

Robert Solomon, who heads up NFPA's Building Fire Protection division, talks about an NFPA effort to be most inclusive when developing codes and standards that deal with mass casualty events, like the shootings in Washington, DC, on September 16, and recent school shootings.


Watch this video on YouTube.

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