Information-Intelligence For The Fire Service

Approximately 2 years ago, I raised the issue of information/intelligence sharing for the fire service.


Approximately 2 years ago, I raised the issue of information/intelligence sharing for the fire service. Specifically, I was concerned about intelligence and/or information that would improve fire service awareness of potential threats to our nation's critical infrastructure, especially, threats to people and/or critical facilities in our cities, towns and counties.

As reported by Firehouse.com in May 2002, The United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) announced that USFA Fire Administrator R. David Paulison and NIPC Director Ronald L. Dick signed an agreement in support of the newly established Emergency Fire Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC). This agreement solidified an effort to enhance the security and readiness of the nation's first responders to deal with potential terrorist threats.

Since that date, much has changed and significant progress has been made to promote critical infrastructure protection (CIP) by leaders of the fire service nationwide. I forwarded nine questions to the USFA's Emergency Management and Response-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) and received the following responses:

What has been done to date to get fire service leaders into the information-sharing database?

The initial effort two years ago was to advertise in different journals, forums, etc. This yielded the participation of only small number of fire chief officers. A year ago, the EMR-ISAC began coordinating with the professional organizations (e.g., National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Interagency Fire Center, National Wildfire Coordination Group, Metro Fire Chiefs, and other EMS and emergency management groups. This was successful in identifying larger numbers of fire service leaders for information sharing. Finally, this year the EMR-ISAC received approval to access the National Fire Department Census and the Fire Service Needs Assessment Survey. Using this database enabled the EMR-ISAC to send electronic messages to all fire departments with an e-mail address (and postal mail to those without) encouraging them to subscribe their chief and deputy (second-in-command) for receipt of sensitive CIP information. This third effort was more successful in accommodating the DisasterHelp.gov subscription of over 16K fire departments.

To date, how many fire service leaders are in this notification database? How many law enforcement?

If the chief officers are shown the CIP information received by the department, then theoretically 16K+ fire service leaders are exposed to CIP notifications. Presently, 2K+ department chiefs personally receive the sensitive CIP information to their electronic addresses.

Since 9/11, can you estimate how many messages have been sent to public safety officials by this program?

If the weekly INFOGRAMs are included, there have been over 115 CIP messages sent since 9/11.

What is the commitment level of the EP&R/FEMA Leadership surrounding this program?

The EP&R/FEMA Preparedness Director, David Paulison, has expressed his enthusiasm and complete support at multiple venues for the services provided by the EMR-ISAC on behalf of the Emergency Services Sector of the nation. He particularly emphasized the urgency for chief officers to receive the Sensitive CIP Notices, which are For Official Use Only.

One concern raised to me by other fire service organizations is that the EMR-ISAC is inadequately staffed and cannot provide 24 hour service. The concern is that when specific information may be needed most that it will not be available. Are there any plans to add additional staff to address this concern?

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