Recently, NFPA hosted the Urban Fire Forum, the annual gathering of 25 fire and emergency service leaders who are members of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs, a membership section of the NFPA and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The Forum endorsed a position statement on Fire and Smoke as a Weapon. This six page document contains background on why those who would harm citizens around the globe consider fire and smoke as weapons. More importantly, drawing on the collective experience of the Metro Chiefs and guidance from the US Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation, provides detailed information on planning, training, and operational needs when responding to such an event.
September 11, 2001, catapulted NFPA into an era where we had to consider the intentional use of fire as a weapon to create harm and attack the structural integrity of building. We saw how this event overwhelmed the ability of any Code or Standard to protect occupants and responders from harm.
Today we see a world where some have gathered to harm others utilizing a horrific arsenal of tools, including fire. Through social media and slick magazines, their followers are instructed how to attack innocents and inflict great harm. Protecting America and those nations targeted will require more than Codes and Standards. As highlighted in Fire and Smoke as A Weapon, it will require preplanning, training, and operational deployment commensurate with the risk.
To assist Americas responders in their efforts to protect our Homeland from these threats, NFPA has created a web page with the Urban Fire Forum position paper and other resources. The Position Paper is a must read for all leaders of emergency response organizations. See the additional resources, including a DHS paper on terrorist interest in using fire as a weapon as well as the FDNY interagency response protocol, at www.nfpa.org/urbanfireforum.