Chief Concerns: Electromagnetic Pulse Awareness for the Fire Service

I magine a world without power, computers, radios and telephones. More specifically, imagine modern emergency response without any of the above. Americans have come to rely on the prompt and effective delivery of fire, police, rescue and emergency medical...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

The EMP Commission acknowledges that modern technology has led to a tremendous increase in electronics that are vulnerable to EMP, recommending a strategic plan to sponsor the development of vehicle-robustness specifications and testing of EMP and that these specifications should be implemented by augmenting existing specifications for gaining immunity to transient electromagnetic interference (EMI). One example of augmenting existing EMI specifications is NFPA 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, which does not reference EMP, but cites (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI). Research about fire apparatus manufacturers found that civilian emergency vehicles are designed to NFPA 1901, whereas at least one manufacturer designs its military vehicles to military EMP standards. Even though no known civilian fire department has requested apparatus designed to military EMP standards, manufacturers surveyed stated they could accommodate this request at an additional cost.

Researching the level of EMP emergency preparedness taking place at the federal level reveals that the threat is not being adequately addressed. Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 8 was established to strengthen the security and resilience of the U.S. against the greatest threats to the nation’s security – terrorism, cyber attacks, pandemics and catastrophic natural disasters. The goals of this directive are to establish a national approach to homeland security preparedness across all levels of government, including private-sector and non-government organizations; to establish guidance for specific planning and training to meet this preparedness goal; and to establish national planning frameworks and preparedness guidelines. The National Preparedness Guidelines of 2007 were established by the Secretary of Homeland Security as directed by HSPD 8 to develop a national domestic “all-hazards” preparedness goal. Emergency preparedness documents commonly use the term “all hazards” to group all natural and man-made disasters together. There are four critical elements to this document: National Preparedness Vision, National Planning Scenarios, Universal Task List (UTL) and Target Capabilities List (TCL). The planning scenarios were developed by the Homeland Security Council, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal, state, local and tribal agencies. The planning scenarios emphasize preparing for catastrophic threats with the greatest risk of mass casualties and widespread property loss and social disruption.

 

Conclusion

The fire service faces significant new threats and considerable additional responsibilities, of which EMP is only one, and must monitor and adapt to these changes. Today’s fire service manages firefighting operations, fire prevention, EMS, hazardous materials responses, public health emergencies and, after 9/11, domestic and international terrorism.

The fire service must establish robust communications and emergency vehicle specifications to include EMP protection in the design, engineering, fabrication, installation and testing of this equipment. The fire service has always reflected the society or community it protects. Today’s fire service must acknowledge that its single-mission role has changed into an “all-hazards” service and incorporate this cultural change into planning and training programs. n