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  1. #1
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    Default Bomb treat policy at public school

    Need some suggestions. In our county there is three different school districts with three different fd covering them. Each having three schools, grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The most people in any of the buildings is around 1000. Here is what happen for me to ask qusetion. One of the districts had a bomb threat phoned in to the school. The school notified the fd, fd responds. Fd blocks highway, assist in evacuation to designated builings off campus. Once head count is done and all personel and children are accounted for the scene is turned over to law enforcement and school. While at scene no radio's are used and fd personel do not search building. Now the problem. The school placed the children back in the building (against fd wishs)and finished out the day after the school personel did a walk thru. School said the fd does not have the authority to close the school that it was their decision. So after everyone is back in the school parents are calling wanting to no what had happen. The secretary tells them everything is okay that the fd cleared the building. WRONG!!!!
    Looking to update our policy. Need suggestions please.


  2. #2
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    My FD policy is for a bomb threat, we stand by at our firehouse. PD assists with evacuation and search. We are not trained in locating bombs, only handling the aftermath should it go bad. We stay out of the area but close enough to respond should the need arise. By staying at our firehouse, we are away from the scene and would not be involved in any "blast zone". Of course, if you station is too far away you could stage somewhere else nearby.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    It's a school & law enforcement issue, not a FD issue.

    Let them evaluate the validity of the threat and what is an appropriate search.

    FD stands by in quarters if anything. If you for some reason feel it's important to stage closer, you need to pick random staging areas -- otherwise you get a couple bomb threats, bomber sees where fire trucks and ambulances always go and park, bomber knows where to set secondaries.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    ditto what the other two guys said. it's a law enforcement scene, until a bomb goes off. we are not trained to search for or disarm bombs. if the bomb does go off, then we extinguish the fire, but it's still a crime scene. FD doesn't close the school, that's what the police are for.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    Well the scene is turned over to the law enforcement and school officials, which to me seems like it releases the F.D. from further action, unless the terrible happens. I can understand being there for evac, jus in case ppl (kids) panic, and some are injured, but as I see it, you don't work bombs, not trained for it, so the F.D. is there for "damage control" and medical...

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    We stage at a distance, which changes each time. We'll only get involved if a bomb goes off.

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    Lightbulb County wide policy

    We have a county-wide policy on bomb threats (schools or otherwise).
    Bomb "threats" are a law enforcement responsibility and they have command. If a bomb explodes (heaven forbid) it becomes a fire department responsibility and command is transfered.

    For a typical bomb threat central dispatch will send police to scene and tone fire and ems to report to their station (non-emergency) and have a command officer TX dispatch. Fire and ems will remain on standby until situation is resolved.

    School administration, with advice from police, has the final say on evacuation. Students are never sent home but rather evacuated to a safe location. This is done by bus in bad weather.

    Schools have caller ID plus bomb threat forms for secretaries to fill out and ask the right questions which assists police.

    Remember-- Bomb threat equals police, Bomb explosion equals fire.

    Stay safe,

    Pete
    Pete Sinclair
    Hartford, MI
    IACOJ (Retired Division)

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber Diane E's Avatar
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    Maybe this site will help:

    From the NVFC e-mail newsletter:

    Resources Available for Emergency Planning for Schools

    As American's continue to react to the horrific terrorist attack that took place recently at a school in the southern Russian town of Beslan, the NVFC wanted to provide the fire service with some resources that can be useful in preparing and developing plans for responding to potential emergency situations at schools in your local community.

    The U.S. Department of Education has a one-stop shop website that provides school and community leaders with information they need to plan for any emergency, including natural disasters, violent incidents and terrorist acts.

    For more information go to: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety...lan/index.html
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
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    Who do you think is the most qualified group of people to conduct the primary search of a school building for suspicious articles?

    PS: I authored my former agencies guide for schools to handle these types of icidents and researched this subject to death. You might be surprised at what answer will be.

  10. #10
    Forum Member SafetyPro's Avatar
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    I've actually had some experience on this from the school side rather than the FD side. My paying job is working for an insurance group doing safety/loss control work for public schools.

    Most of the districts that I'm aware of have the policy that if a bomb threat is received, they evacuate and call 911. During their evacuation, they may have a few individuals do a quick search of the buildings making sure all students and staff are out. They don't search for the device, though they are trained to keep an eye open for suspicious packages and report any to the principal.

    Once PD, and possibly FD, respond, PD is in charge and they make the determination of what to do next. Often times, PD will make a search of the buildings (possibly with school staff assistance) looking for any devices. If anything is found, the bomb squad (generally county sheriff's department) will respond and take control.

    If FD responds, they'll generally stage a safe distance from the site and wait for any necessary response. I know some FDs don't respond automatically, only if a device has gone off.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

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    George, my instinct tells me that school staff/teachers would be the group most likely to notice an out-of-place article or object. I'm not advocating sending them in as the search team, but their input would be helpful. I'm probably way off........

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    Originally posted by firemedic53
    George, my instinct tells me that school staff/teachers would be the group most likely to notice an out-of-place article or object. I'm not advocating sending them in as the search team, but their input would be helpful. I'm probably way off........
    We have a winner.

    Essentially, no one knows there own room like a teacher. No one knows the administrative areas like the administrators. No one knows the cafeteria like that big old ugly lady with a missing tooth and the hair net.

    When the bomb threat code is given, each staff member should conduct a cursory examination of the area under their control. Don't move anything, don't touch anything, just observe. Key to this is telling the students to take everything that they brought into the room out with them. The theory being that the bomber, if he is a student, will not want to carry around a bomb. Secondly, the teacher has a better shot at picking up on a suspicious item if there is no student junk in the room. The staff member will then report any suspicious articles to the designated person. Janitors will be responsible for cursory searches of hallways and exitways.

    A few other points.

    The fire alarm should not be used to dump the school. An enterprising bomber could use the fire alarm as an ignition device. Secondly, this needs to be a controlled evac. An announcement with instructions is needed.

    The school may elect not to evac. I advocate a threat assessment based on a number of considerations. If a sec. gets a call from a giggling 10 yoa with other kids in the background, they may not elect to dump. Also, if the threat coincides with, for example, the onset of good weather, they may elect not to dump.

    Training for staff is key. Complete buy-in is necessary.

    K9's are not desirable for a "complete" search of a school building. They are unable to accurately search areas higher than their heads. They also lose their olfactory sensitivity after about 20 minutes of work.

    Also bear in mind that in the overwhelming majority of these cases, there is no device. Also, the more specific the threat, the more serious the threat.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Weruj -- I'd take that post of the SOP off. That's the kind of specific information to a key hazard that's dangerous -- in this case, someone knows exactly where all the command officials are planning to go.

    Do a google on "Weruj1" -- I don't know what criteria Google uses to figure out which threads they index. But once it did, doing something like "Rossford School Bomb" could prove interesting. And once in Google's cache, it could live forever.

    *General* stuff is fine to talk about on special hazard calls like this (i.e. we establish a command post, use remote staging, etc).

    Specifics like who evacuates to where, or that we always stage one block away, or where the command post will be is the type of stuff that could be exploited much more easily.

    IMHO any plans like this should have several alternate scenarios that are decided at the time -- so even someone pulling false alarms wouldn't pickup the pattern.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    Weruj,

    Got to agree with Dal, Remove the post. Specific info on posted SOP's can work it's way back to bite us. The flexibility has to be built in to the plan so that things dont happen predictably(at least for the outsiders watching). A couple of occurences can expose the pattern and give the folks trying to cause us problems an advantage.

    We used to respond to the school and stage in a pre-determined location within view of the school and wait for the state police, sheriff dept, and school administrators to search and declare the scene all clear. Noticed that the lights and sirens seemed to get the students more wound up, Big show, news media etc. We changed our policy and the number of occurrences has fallen off. Now, No big show, the appropriate people are notified and a crew is available if not actually in the station. We respond if needed.

    Stay Safe,

    Jim

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    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    you know I thought about that before I posted it........but in the spirt of trying to share info ...........at any rate I did take your advice and as you can see and removed the post........this is another reason that the forums are so great.
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    Forum Member LACAPT's Avatar
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    Try this site www.threatplan.org This is an Interactive Planning Tool for Schools. Developed by ATF, U.S.Dept. of Justice, and the Dept of Education. I have not had a chance to look at it yet myself as I just came off of Fire/Bomb investigation course about 2 hrs ago.

  17. #17
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Just wanted to throw out there that in CT, the FD is in charge of any scene they are on. They have command authority over EVERYBODY, be it the police or school officials. If a school administrator did that here, we could have them arrested, or at least "forced" to comply.

    As for the actual bomb, thats what the police are for.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  18. #18
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    Originally posted by nmfire
    Just wanted to throw out there that in CT, the FD is in charge of any scene they are on. They have command authority over EVERYBODY, be it the police or school officials. If a school administrator did that here, we could have them arrested, or at least "forced" to comply.

    As for the actual bomb, thats what the police are for.
    As I have said approximately a billion times, for every statute that says the "FD is in charge of any scene they are on. They have command authority over EVERYBODY, be it the police or school officials", there is a statute that says the PD is in charge of all crime scenes (and a bomb threat is clearly a crime scene) and a school principal has authority over his school. The discussion here is not one of "who's in charge". It is what can be done to keep all students, teachers and staff safe. Period.

    There are clearly circumstances, after a complete and thorough threat assessment is completed, that it is certainly reasonable NOT to evacuate. That is why the threat assessment process should be completed at every bomb threat.

    We really need to get off this "I'm in charge" kick. It is detrimental to the mission.

  19. #19
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    What is a bomb treat?

    Is that like those red white and blue popcicles called bomb pops??

    Seriously, a few years ago we had a wingnut in our area that was calling in bomb threats and making fake pipe bombs and placing them around the area. This caused us to develop very good bomb threat policies and procedures.

    A bomb threat is a law enforcement call. Fire stands by out of site of the school(or whatever). Law enforecement and school officials determine if school should be evacuated and what action should be taken. If it is determined to evacuate the school and do a search, Fire will do a search of the buildings and grounds on a couple of stipulations. 1) the fire personnel used for the search do it voluntarily, they are not ordered to search if they don't want to. 2) a member of the on site staff (teacher, janitor, etc.) will go with each fire search team to deterimine if something is out of the ordinary. 3) we are only looking for things obviously out of place. We do not go into lockers or cabinets unless there is reasonable cause to do so. 4) if anything at all is found out of the ordinary, all personnel is cleared immediately and a EOD team is called from Fort McCoy.

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  20. #20
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI


    As I have said approximately a billion times, for every statute that says the "FD is in charge of any scene they are on. They have command authority over EVERYBODY, be it the police or school officials", there is a statute that says the PD is in charge of all crime scenes (and a bomb threat is clearly a crime scene) and a school principal has authority over his school. The discussion here is not one of "who's in charge". It is what can be done to keep all students, teachers and staff safe. Period.

    There are clearly circumstances, after a complete and thorough threat assessment is completed, that it is certainly reasonable NOT to evacuate. That is why the threat assessment process should be completed at every bomb threat.

    We really need to get off this "I'm in charge" kick. It is detrimental to the mission.

    George, you don't need to tell me that the police should be in charge of a crime scene. I mearly stated that as a somewhat related fact stemming from the school officials telling the FD to pound sand. However I can assure you that a school principle in CT doesn't have authority over jack______ when the FD arrives at an incidnet.
    Last edited by nmfire; 09-19-2004 at 02:26 PM.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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