Altering the mission statement : the training of firefighters as intelligence gatherers
Blatus, Richard J.
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The fire service is one of the premier emergency response agencies in the United States. As our nation strives to expand and enhance its homeland security efforts, firefighters have been recognized as an underutilized asset. The opportunity for firefighters to act as "first preventers" in the war on terrorism is unmatched by any other emergency response agency. This, coupled with the warrantless search provisions afforded firefighters by the Constitution, makes firefighters the logical choice for training and inclusion into an expanded terrorism awareness initiative. Expansion of the intelligence-gathering capabilities of first responders, specifically firefighters, will not be without difficulty. The lack of training and educational opportunities afforded firefighters in this area, the changes in firefighting culture, the status of firefighters as an integral part of the community, are all obstacles that must be addressed. Firefighters respond to homes and businesses with unprecedented frequency. A multi-faceted approach involving training, community involvement, and operational awareness will streamline the utilization of firefighters in the area of threat recognition. Trained firefighters will help shoulder some of the burden placed on law enforcement while the utilization of a current asset will put forth a new best practice for the safety of our communities.
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