9/11 Report Cites Need For Unified Command

The final report issued by the 9/11 Commission is a devastating indictment of the government agencies that failed to detect and prevent the terrorist attacks that took the lives of 2,973 people, including 347 firefighters. The 450-page document traces the...


The final report issued by the 9/11 Commission is a devastating indictment of the government agencies that failed to detect and prevent the terrorist attacks that took the lives of 2,973 people, including 347 firefighters. The 450-page document traces the sometimes clumsy planning and training of...


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Another vital recommendation is that all emergency response agencies should adopt the incident command system and, when multiple agencies or jurisdictions are involved, there must be a unified command. Existing mutual aid plans have to be strengthened and expanded to cover entire regions. The Commission strongly supports the decision that “all federal homeland security funding will be contingent upon the adoption and regular use of ICS and unified command procedures.” It is inconceivable that a fire department of any size would not have an incident command system at this stage of the game, but anything is possible. However, starting next month, no ICS will mean no money from the Department of Homeland Security.

The 9/11 Commission’s recommendations to change the intelligence and law enforcement agencies have touched off a hot political debate. But there should not be any argument over the few recommendations that cover first responders; they make sense and should be implemented as fast as possible. Every fire chief and senior officer should read the 9/11 Report and apply the lessons learned to their own department.


Hal Bruno, a Firehouse® contributing editor, retired as political director for ABC News in Washington and served almost 40 years as a volunteer firefighter. He is a director of the Chevy Chase, MD, Fire Department and chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.