An Analysis of Fire Rescue Disaster Preparedness for an Instant

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An Analysis of Fire Rescue Disaster Preparedness for an Instant Powered By Docstoc
                 FOR AN INSTANT DISASTER


                           By: Patrick Kendrick
                           Tamarac Fire Rescue
                            Tamarac, Florida

     An applied research project submitted to the National Fire Academy
                as part of the Executive Fire Officer Program

                                 June 2001
                                           ABSTRACT                                                   2

       The problem was that Tamarac Fire Rescue did not have a disaster plan to deal with an

immediate, or instant, disaster in the community. Broad base contingency plans had been

developed to mitigate natural disasters, such as hurricanes, but these plans allowed that there

would be meteorological warnings and would give personnel and the community several days to

prepare for such disasters.

       The purpose of this research project was to analyze Tamarac Fire Rescue’s existing

readiness for a disaster of an immediate nature, with particular reference to aircraft crashes,

conduct a community Risk Assessment Analysis, and identify recommendations for an Instant

Disaster Emergency Activation (IDEA) Plan.

       Evaluative and historical research methods were used to answer the following questions:

       1.      What Emergency Management Procedures were currently in place to mitigate

               large scale community disasters?

       2.      What was the city of Tamarac’s current Risk Assessment Analysis particularly in

               those communities that would be at the highest exposure to an instant disaster?

       3.      What experiences have other fire rescue and off site responders encountered that

               might assist in the development of an IDEA Plan?

       Procedures used in this project were an extensive review of literature pertaining to the

subject of aircraft accidents, particularly off site, high impact crashes, personal interviews with

fire rescue personnel as well as other responders to aircraft crashes, extensive review of data

from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration web sites,

and air crash rescue response plans in the South Florida, tri-county area (Palm Beach, Broward,

and Dade Counties), and a community Risk Assessment Analysis was conducted for Tamarac

communities most likely to be affected by an instant disaster.

       A summary of the results of this research revealed that Tamarac’s Emergency

Management Plan was inadequate to handle an instant disaster. Specific areas of the plan were

found to be weak, such as actual response information. The plan is in need of an update that

includes contemporary emergencies, such as plane crashes and terrorists attacks, as well as

specific response information to such incidents. There is a lack of outside agency contact

information specifically, but not limited to, law enforcement agencies and federal agencies that

would be responding to an instant disaster. An abbreviated community risk assessment was

conducted but a more comprehensive assessment should be completed and additional planning

established to reduce Tamarac’s vulnerability to instant disasters.

       A summary of recommendations included conducting a new community risk assessment

to include contemporary hazards and vulnerabilities specific to Tamarac and its proximity to a

nearby airport. Pre-disaster contacts and relationships need to be established with numerous

outside agencies to ensure a more efficient and proper response and mitigation for an instant

disaster. These agencies include federal agencies, local law enforcement, county health, and

private contractor agencies, as well as numerous others. Additional training needs to be

conducted for fire and police personnel and include air crash rescue response procedures. For

fire personnel specifically, training on aircraft structural components and hazards, as well as

decon procedures, and urban search and rescue procedures. Additional training on WMD’s and

terrorism should be conducted. Specialized equipment needs to be purchased and stored in the

event of an instant disaster. Tamarac’s EOC should be relocated, rebuilt, and updated.

                                                      TABLE OF CONTENTS


Abstract ............................................................................................................................................2

Table of Contents.............................................................................................................................4


Background and Significance ..........................................................................................................5

Literature Review ............................................................................................................................8



Discussion ......................................................................................................................................41


Reference List ................................................................................................................................50

Appendix A....................................................................................................................................52

Appendix B ....................................................................................................................................53

Appendix C ....................................................................................................................................53

Appendix D....................................................................................................................................54

Appendix E ....................................................................................................................................55

Appendix F................................................................................................................................56

Appendix G...............................................................................................................................57


       The problem is that while Tamarac Fire Rescue is well prepared for a Slow Progressing

Incident of Disaster Emergency Response (SPIDER) such as a hurricane or other similar

meteorological events, the organization is not prepared for an instant disaster and does not have

an Instant Disaster Emergency Activation (IDEA) Plan. The purpose of this research project is to

analyze Tamarac Fire Rescue’s current readiness for a disaster of an immediate nature, with

particular reference to aircraft crashes, conduct a community Risk Assessment Analysis, and

identify recommendations for an Instant Disaster Emergency Activation (IDEA) Plan.

       Evaluative and historical research methods were used to answer the following questions:

       1.      What Emergency Management Procedures are currently in place to mitigate large

               scale community disasters?

       2.      What is the city of Tamarac’s current Risk Assessment Analysis particularly in

               those communities that would be at the highest exposure to an instant disaster?

       3.      What experiences have other fire rescue and off site responders encountered that

               might assist in the development of an IDEA Plan?

                            BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE

       Tamarac Fire Rescue serves a populace predominantly made up of retired citizens in a

residential bedroom community. While time has changed the demographics of the community

since its inception, it is still a relatively new, or newer, community with very little crime. The

current population is approximately 56,000. A significant number of the population are Jewish

and there are numerous synagogues and Jewish community centers. After the terrorist attacks of

September 11th, 2001, this fact became more significant in calculating the community’s risk

assessment analysis. The average age of residents five years ago was 71. Currently, the area has

a large retirement population with an average age of 52.9 but, recently, a new public school was

built beginning to serve an increasingly younger group of citizens moving into the area. The

school was built in the western area of the City. Another school is planned nearby. Residential

communities are scattered throughout the City but, generally speaking, industry and business is

located along main thoroughfares and highways and generally more to the east. Newer and larger

scale residential communities are located more to the west.

       There are two airports nearby. One is the Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport

located approximately ten miles south of Tamarac proper. This airport caters to both commercial

and general aircraft. The other closer airport is an executive business airport, the Ft. Lauderdale

Executive Airport, located just to the east of the City’s easternmost boundaries with numerous

aircraft that fall under the description of general aviation. These aircraft usually make their

landing approach from west to east, crossing over the Everglades, a non-residential, protected

wetland, and over the residential areas that are located in the western section of the City.


it is a modern community which has adhered to current building codes standards there has been

little property loss due to fire damage in the past 25, or so, years. The average fire loss is

approximately $500,000 and less annually (Tamarac Fire Rescue Annual Report, 2000. (p.3).

Additionally, due to enhanced building codes and because Tamarac is located farther west than

many other South Florida communities, the City has experienced minimal damage from natural

disasters such as hurricanes.

       Tamarac Fire Rescue began in 1975. It is a small department of 96 paid personnel. Most

of the front line personnel are trained as both fire fighters and paramedics. They have been

trained and drilled in responding to mass casualty incidents but our resources are often

overwhelmed, quickly, by any incident that is categorized as an MCI, Level 3, (20, or more

patients). Special Operations such as Haz- Mat response, is handled by the neighboring City of

Sunrise Fire Rescue Department. Tamarac Fire Rescue does have a well established, experienced

Dive Rescue Team. The closest Aircraft Crash Rescue personnel are located at the Ft.

Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, about ten miles away.

       There have been numerous small aircraft crashes in and around Tamarac. The National

Transportation Safety Board’s data base reveals there have been three separate aircraft crashes in

Tamarac proper and numerous others in nearby cities in which Tamarac Fire Rescue had to

respond. A review of the National Transportation Safety Board’s data has revealed that Florida

has one of the highest number of aircraft crashes in the United States and, consequently, one of

the highest number of aircraft crash fatalities. These numbers remain somewhat constant over the

years. Until the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, only California had more crashes and

fatalities than Florida (National Transportation Safety Board Annual Review Of Aircraft

Accident Data, U.S. General Aviation Calendar Years, 1996, p.34, and 1997, p.34).

       Florida has a plethora of high density residential areas, nuclear power plants and military

installations that have the potential to become terrorists targets. Many of the terrorists that

conducted the September 11th attacks lived and operated in South Florida . Tamarac does not

have nuclear power plants, nor military bases. Tamarac does have high density residential areas,

particularly to the west. Numerous aircraft approach Tamarac from the west over unguarded,

unpatrolled wetlands to land at the nearby Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport. Small planes that

spray chemicals for both mosquito control and crop dusting fly out of the Ft. Lauderdale

Executive Airport. Using materials and information from Unit 4: Community Risk Assessment,

from the Executive Fire Officer Program course: Executive Analysis Of Fire Service Operations

In Emergency Management (EAOFSOEM), an analysis of the City’s Risk Assessment was

conducted, and reveals that, whether by terrorist act, mechanical failure, or pilot error, Tamarac

has a significant probability of experiencing an aircraft crash that could devastatingly affect the

city and overwhelm the Fire Rescue Department.

                                    LITERATURE REVIEW

       The National Transportation Safety Board publishes its Annual Review Of Aircraft

Accident Data approximately three years behind the present year. Much of the data used in this

research project is from the calendar years of 1996 and 1997. More current data came from the

NTSB’s web site. A significant part of information used in the literature review came from the

Learning Resource Center at the National Fire Academy and the Palm Beach County Library

System. The Community Risk Assessment Model came from the EAOFSEM course of the

Executive Fire Officer Program. Other source material came from the City Of Tamarac’s

Department of Community Development.

       In Aircraft Incident Management System: A Team Approach, Fire Engineering, March,

1991, Carr and Omans write that no one agency can handle an aircraft incident effectively.

Analyses of previous air incidents revealed that many responders met for the first time at the

accident scene; a factor that resulted in chaotic operations (p.143). Some of the following groups

and agencies can be, or should be, expected to respond: other fire departments, the health

department, coroner and/or medical examiner, disaster coordinating agencies, psychological

response teams, volunteer groups, private contractors, public works, civil attorneys, insurance

companies, airport administration, news media, elements of the political community including,

possibly, the state governor, Red Cross, postal inspectors, and federal agencies such as the Drug

Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the FBI, U.S. Customs

Service, and certainly the NTSB and the FAA (p.145). Roles and responsibilities change and

command may evolve due to the input of some of these agencies. One should develop the mind

set of when it happens rather than if it happens, develop an Aircraft Incident Management

System (AIMS) and ensure the cooperation of these various agencies prior to an incident (p.146).

       In an article from Fire Chief, February, 2000, entitled Have Trainer, Will Travel, Nilo

wrote that growth forecasts from the Federal Aviation Administration indicate the number of

passengers carried on U.S. commercial aircraft will reach nearly one billion by 2010. Nilo

included information from the 1998 FAA Safer Skies conference and quoted FAA Administrator

Jane F. Garvey as saying, the enormous growth in aviation would mean more accidents (p. 70).

       According to IFSTA, Aircraft Rescue And Fire Fighting, 3rd Edition, March, 1992,

there are basically four types of aircraft accidents, or incidents.

       •   In flight emergencies

       •   On-ground accidents/incidents

       •   Low-impact crashes

       •   High-impact crashes

       Additionally, there are three locations where accidents may occur:

       •   In-air collisions

       •   On-site (at the airport) accidents/incidents

       •   Off-site (anywhere off an airport) accidents/incidents

       For the purpose of this study, the subject of off-site accidents/incidents, either high-

impact, or low-impact, was the primary focus for fire rescue response and mitigation planning in

Tamarac. IFSTA defines low impact crashes as those crashes that do not severely damage, or

break up the fuselage and are likely to have a large percentage of survivors (p.122). There are

basically two types of low impact crashes: wheels up, or belly landings, both of which may occur

due to failure of a hydraulic, or electrical system. Fire is not uncommon with these types of

crashes but hazards are usually greater when the plane lands on airport runways rather than on

soft ground. Ditching is another example of a low impact crash which is a somewhat controlled

landing of a wheels up plane on water.

       High-impact crashes are those with severe damage to the fuselage and have a


reduced likelihood of occupant survival (IFSTA, p.123). High impact crashes include hillside

crashes, usually caused by weather, or pilot, or instrument, errors. The aircraft will often break

apart upon impact with the ground or trees. Sometimes, hitting obstructions causes the aircraft to

cartwheel. Responders should expect to find main structural components, such as the wings, tail,

and undercarriage scattered over a wide area of approach. Under these conditions, a thorough


wide ranging search for casualties should be carried out. Other high impact crashes include

structural crashes when an aircraft collides with a building. The aircraft will break apart upon

impact and flying debris will damage surrounding properties. Damage to upper and lower floors

may occur causing walls and floors to collapse. Persons residing in the building(s) will be


or killed as well as those inside the aircraft. Hazards may include jet fuel run off and fire spread.

Rescue personnel should expect to search involved properties and evacuate the entire area.

Attempts to prevent fuel from running into gutters, sewers and storm drains should be made


           High impact water crashes are another type of incident. Many airports are surrounded

by bodies of water and there are many occasions when pilots are forced to make the decision to

try a water landing. Frequently with these types of crashes there are a few survivors due to the

weight and high speeds of commercial aircraft. Lighter, smaller aircraft tend to fare batter in

these types of crashes. Rescue personnel should be aware that aircraft wreckage may be floating

because of

trapped air in the top of compartments and making an opening at a point above the water level

may permit the air to escape and cause the wreckage to submerge before passengers have been

removed. Access to the wreckage and surviving passengers is usually the most significant


and specialized equipment such as rescue boats and helicopters should be considered (p.125).

          In Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting: Vital Information for the Responder, Industrial Fire

World, December, 1995, Lindemann cites: A review of air carrier accidents reveals that 80% of

accidents occur on or within 3000 feet of a runway during takeoff or landing. Most occur at

relatively slow speed and most are survivable. 15% of accidents occur in the approach area and

are generally fatal. 5% of accidents occur en route and are most likely to be fatal (p.8).

       Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport serves as a base for aircraft that fall into the category of

“general aircraft”, which is non-commercial, light airplanes. In Light Aircraft Accidents,

Emergency, December, 1982, Smith writes that in 1980, there were 3,799 general aviation

accidents nationwide. Of these accidents, 677 were serious enough to produce 1,375 fatalities

(p.26). This comes out to an average of ten accidents a day, of which approximately two cause

fatalities. These statistics have improved over time. A review of the of the National

Transportation Safety Board, Annual Review Of Aircraft Accident Data, 1996 and 1997,

editions, published respectively in 2000 and 2001, cites improved statistics. In 1995 there were

2,053 reported accidents. By 1996, there was a 7 percent decrease, with a total of 1,935 reported

accidents. 370 of these caused fatalities (p.1). In the 1997 report, the statistics continued to

improve, showing that there were 1,870 accidents, a decrease of 3 percent, with 351 of these

accidents causing fatalities (p.1). However, the number of actual passenger deaths increased due

to the fact that some of these airplanes were simply carrying more people. Causes of accidents

show that statistically, pilots were either the cause, or the contributing factor in 77 percent in

1996 (p.3) and 75 percent in 1997 (p.3).

       Data from both NTSB reports, both 1996 and 1997, which is the most current


available in 2001, show some general trends that are pertinent to this research project. Florida


the second highest number of accidents and fatalities in the nation (1997 edition, p.34). Most

accidents happen in the months of June and July and occur on Saturday (p.33). Most of these

accidents happen during daylight hours (p.36). Most of the pilots fall into the age bracket of 40

49 years of age, and are experienced, instrument rated pilots (p.39-45). There are numerous other

statistics cited in the NTSB annual reports, the scope of which exceeds the time and theme of


research project. For our purposes, the data cited in this report pertains to information that may

be pertinent to fire department response, expectations of what, or whom, may be found on the

crash site, and statistical time when a crash might be anticipated.

       There are numerous sources containing information on what to expect when arriving at

the scene of an aircraft accident. In Now What do I Do? Firehouse, 1995, Phillips writes that

structural fire fighters should view an aircraft accident as a variation of a structural collapse

(p.104). He suggests six simple steps that may begin to give some order to an instant and, by its

very nature, chaotic event.

       Step 1: Survey the area. Make as complete a survey as possible starting at the initial point

       of impact and going 360 degrees around that site.

       Step 2: Remove hazards. During the survey you must decide where you can expend

               limited resources for the greatest potential of saving lives.

       Ask yourself: Where are the passengers most likely to still be alive? Protecting property

       is not an issue if there are lives at stake.

       Step 3: Remove surface victims. Look for walking wounded. Clear viable patients from

       the hot zone to a safe zone as soon as possible.

       Step 4: Search all voids and spaces. If there are part of the fuselage remaining, look into

       breaks in the body of the craft as well as entrance doors and emergency exits for the

       quickest searches.

       Step 5: Search for known or reported victims. This stage will most likely be a heavy

               rescue operation. Areas of the fuselage may not look survivable but may contain

               survivors. This is also one of the most dangerous operations as hazards may be

               present and cutting or opening the fuselage may be rescuers into contact with

               hydraulic systems, fuels lines, electrical systems, and pressurized vessels such as

               oxygen bottles.

       Step 6: General debris removal. This is the recovery stage of the operation. During this

       phase responders will be working with federal investigators and a strong emphasis will


       placed on documentation (p104-105).

       In The Voice, July 1994, Ausmus goes into more detail in his article, Aircraft Rescue and

Firefighting For Structural Fire Departments. Ausmus states that all firefighters should have

some basic knowledge of aircraft rescue and firefighting procedures. Firefighters having airports

within their jurisdiction should also become familiarized with the types of aircraft operating in

their area. Many of these airports rely on personnel and resources provided by surrounding

structural fire departments; many smaller airports may rely totally on the local fire department

for aircraft rescue and firefighting. Such is the case in Tamarac. Ausmus suggests some

important features that firefighters should note while pre-fire planning:

       1. Size and type of aircraft: commercial, small private, cargo or military.

       2. Construction features: fuselage, wings, control surfaces, location of fuel tanks, interior


       3. Construction materials: aluminum, magnesium, titanium, composite materials, ANS

       plastic, polyurethane, synthetic material in seats.

       4. Aircraft systems:

              a. type of propulsion: turbine, reciprocating, etc, type of fuel: Jet-A, Jet-B.

              b. electrical system: battery location, auxiliary power units, shut-offs.

              c. hydraulic systems: type and amount of fluid, brakes, landing gear, control


              d. oxygen system: stored pressure, chemically generated, cylinder, cannister


       5. Exits: location and operation of doors, windows, latches.

       6. Military, or cargo aircraft: armaments, typical loads, ejection seats, hazardous

       materials, shipping papers.

       7. Other aircraft: crop dusters, air ambulances, helicopters (p.38).

       Ausmus points out several tactical considerations (p.39). Upon arrival a size up should be

completed and include:

       1. Aircraft factors: type of aircraft, type and amount of fuel, condition of aircraft, special


       2. Life safety factors: number of occupants, escape routes in use, trapped occupants,

       location of victims.

       3. Fire factors: size of fire, location of fire, direction and speed of fire spread, exposures.

       4. Environmental factors: wind direction, terrain, weather conditions, time of day,

       direction of fuel run-off.

       5. Resource factors: mutual aid, EMS, extinguishing agents, water supply, specialized

       equipment (lighting, cranes, etc.).

       Ausmus states that there are too many variables to aircraft rescue to establish any hard,

fast rules regarding the exact methods to be employed in all incidents involving aircraft crashes

but all efforts in all cases should include the safe removal or escape of the occupants of the

aircraft. Other key points he suggests are cautionary. Rescuers may encounter heavy smoke and

poor visibility, adverse weather conditions, numerous injured or disoriented passengers and

debris that may damage apparatus and/or hinder approach. Depending on terrain, fire may be

flowing due to jet fuel run off. Aircraft incidents should be approached as a haz- mat situation:

upwind and uphill (p.39).

       Ausmus states that, “Seventy percent of deaths in aircraft accidents are caused by the

effects of heat, smoke, and toxic gases. The fuselage can burn through in as little as 60 seconds.”

Upon arrival, if passengers are still exiting the plane, apply foam to extinguish burning

flammable liquid and create a path for escaping passengers. Streams should be maneuvered in an

attempt to push the fire away from the fuselage and insulate it from any outside burning

flammable liquid. Aircraft skin burns through at 1200 degrees, Jet-A fuel burns at 1800 degrees.

Deploy hand lines and begin an interior attack if possible. Perform ventilation utilizing normal

openings, avoiding cutting the craft and possibly hitting electrical, fuel, or hydraulic, systems.

Appoint a safety officerimmediately (p. 40).

       This may be a crime scene. Secure the site and allow only authorized persons into the

area. Do not remove anything from the aircraft or site; it may be evidence to investigators. Try

not to move any switches or flight controls; make note of it if you do. If flight or cockpit data

recorders are recovered turn them over to the investigating authority. Body location should be

marked with survey flags prior to removal. Photograph, or videotape the entire aircraft and

accident site before conducting any salvage operations (p.41).

       Due to the potentially large number of dead persons, as well as various fuels and

chemicals spilled at an aircraft crash, the site will probably become a haz- mat, or bio hazard

site. Wann, in his article, When A Big Crash Happens In A Small Community, Fire Chief,

September, 1995, writes about his department’s experience with a plane crash. Local and state

police sealed off an area one square mile around the crash site. Because the site was in a wet,

muddy area, a gravel road was installed by the county highway department, overnight. The

county coroner was brought in to deal with the bodies. As all the passengers in this particular

case were deceased, the fire department was assigned the task of decontaminating all working

personnel and plane parts at the site. This type of operation in itself can become extensive.

Trenches were dug, lined and used to decon airplane parts and equipment used at the scene.

Portable pools were used to decon personnel. Then, wastewater solutions from the decon areas

were pumped into tankers and hauled to hazardous liquid stations (p.51). Wann suggests that no

one be allowed to work in the field for more than four hours due to the enormous physiological

and psychological demands on rescue personnel.

       In What Every Chief Should Know About Plane Crashes, Fire Chief, September, 1995,

Hilvers describes his experience with a plane crash as he expounds on several hazards that

responding fire fighters should be aware of. Hilvers again cautions that aircraft crashes should


treated as crime scenes. Bodies and body parts should be left undisturbed. Efforts should be


to document location and positions of bodies if they must be removed to facilitate victim rescue.

When attempting victim rescue, rescuers should be aware of the following information: Doors on

nearly all pressurized aircraft will be on the left side as passengers face the nose of the plane. All

commercial aircraft that hold more than nineteen passengers will have over the wing exits. Doors

on most commuter aircraft open out and swing toward the nose of the plane. Caution should be

used when opening doors on commercial aircraft for the deployment of emergency escape slides.

They are armed and will deploy automatically when doors are opened unless disarmed by the

flight crew. Doors and door frames are some of the strongest areas of construction on the plane.

It is easier to cut out the entire frame than to force the door. Use caution when using any cutting

device as sparks may ignite fuel vapors, or you may hit pressurized fuel, oxygen, or hydraulic

lines (p.44).

        Most modern aircraft have structural components of combustible metals such as

magnesium and titanium. These metals are very difficult to extinguish once ignited and the

products of their combustion are extremely toxic. Tires on most commercial aircraft are

pressurized to over 200psi. When exposed to heat they can overpressurize and explode.

Hydraulic systems on aircraft can exceed pressures of 3000 psi. Cutting them can be hazardous

as well as the fluid itself, which may be Skydrol, a particularly caustic substance that can

dissolve turnout gear and its combustion is also toxic (p. 46). Rather than single officer

designations, command should consider using several safety officers as well as several liaison

and logistics officers. Haz- mat officers are an absolute necessity in an aircraft crash incident

command structure (p.48).

        In Managing Fibre Hazards at Aircraft Incidents, Fire Engineering, March, 1997,

Woodward cautions responders on the hazards of some of the composite materials that are used

to construct aircraft. Some of these materials are: Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP),

Armid Reinforced Plastic (ARP), Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastic (GRP) and Kevlar. Collectively

these products are called Man Made Mineral Fibres (MMMF) and they can be deadly. All

materials used in aircraft construction will offer some kind of toxic hazard during and following

a fire or crash situation. The most hazardous are MMMF’s. The fibers will support a flame and

release vapors at a very low temperature, 195 degrees Centigrade; cyanide is released at

approximately 150 degrees Centigrade (p. 34-35). Fire fighters should try to minimize the

disturbance of fibre particles by laying down a blanket of foam and maintaining it during the

entire operation. MMMF’s are difficult to cut and all cutting actions will result in needle sharp

particles being released. The particles will cause respiratory irritation, or worse, and possibly

have long term negative effects. In addition, MMMF’s are highly conductive and can cause

serious damage to electrical equipment and installations. At one incident, extensive damage was

caused to two electrical generating installations, the furthest one being ten miles from the crash

site. To prevent disturbance of these particles, helicopters should be restricted from hovering

directly over the site.

        Another potential hazard is Floureastomec/Viton used in making aircraft seats and fuel

pipes. After it is burnt, this material becomes Hydrofluoric Acid which, if it comes into contact

with skin, will eat into the body and attack the calcium in the bones (p.35). The product can

remain dangerous for up to 2 years. Woodward suggests zoning as a form of incident command

and control at an aircraft incident. Zone 1 is the incident site. This area concerns the

aircraft/wreckage and the attending fire and rescue personnel. Fire control and rescue of

surviving occupants is the primary goal in this zone. Zone 2 is for casualty clearance. This zone

is located upwind and uphill if possible. This is basically the triage area. Zone 3 is the ambulance

loading point which is self-explanatory. This zone should be located next to Zone 2 and,

preferably near an accessible road (p. 36).

       Kuhr and Lee, in No Fly By Night Operation: MCI Response To Aviation Disasters,

Rescue, September/October, 1993, suggest using the basics of Multiple Casualty Incident (MCI)

Management to deal with victims and casualties. Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) a

system developed by emergency doctors, nurses and fire fighters in Newport Beach, California,

enable emergency personnel to perform a logical and rapid assessment of multiple casualties

(p.55). This is a simple system that uses four colored tag sectors: Red, for those needing

immediate care. Yellow, for those patients who need immediate care but whose injuries are not

life-threatening. Green, for minor injuries and ambulatory patients. Black, for deceased patients.

The Black sector should be set up away from other patients who are being cared for to help

preserve the emotional stability of both survivors and rescuers. A good starting point for

determining the number of victims is the air carrier’s manifest, if it can be obtained, but it will

not account for potential victims on the ground (p.56-57).

       There are some mechanical aspects of aircraft that all crash site responders should be

aware of. Smith, in Light Aircraft Accidents, Emergency, September, 1995, outlines some basics

that will allow responders to make a safer approach to a downed plane:

        Fuel Tanks: All general aviation aircraft have fuel tanks in their wings. Some have

torpedo shaped objects in the ends of each wing. Infrequently, there may be some tanks located

behind the passenger compartment.

        Fuel Shut-Off Valves: All general aviation aircraft have a fuel tank selector valve. There

is a shut off on each selector valve. The valve should be placed in this position on every aircraft

accident, if possible. The valve is usually located on the floor of the cabin between the two front

seats. If it is not there it will be within easy reach of the pilot’s seat.

        Fuel Lines: Fuel lines run from the tanks to the engines; care must be taken when cutting

into the wing or floor of any aircraft. Caution should also be taken when cutting through the roof

of high-winged aircraft as fuel lines are routed through this area as well.

        Electrical: A major hazard is the electrical system of a downed plane. All general


aircraft have automobile-type batteries. Unfortunately, their placement differs from manufacturer

to manufacturer. Generally, single-wing aircraft have their batteries located in the engine

compartment, or in the tail behind the passenger compartment. Twin-engine planes can have

them located almost anywhere. The only suggestion is to assign a person to find and disconnect

the battery. If the battery can not be found, there is a master switch which can cut electrical

power. The master switch is usually located along the bottom edge of the instrument panel,

within reach of the pilot (p. 26-27).

        Additional Safety factors that need to be considered at an off-site crash site were looked

at in articles and documents concerning the Valujet crash in the Florida Everglades wilderness,


1996. Fischer, in Emergency In The Everglades: The Recovery Of Valujet Flight 592, FBI Law

Enforcement Bulletin, September, 1997, lists numerous items based on his personal experience.

Fischer suggests considering the placement of two command posts, based on accessibility of the

site; one on-site, near the crash site and one closer to civilization and paved roads. If the site is

very remote, portable repeaters should be used to enhance radio communications efficacy. He

recommends the use of a USAR Team, as well as a haz- mat team, and the earlier the activation

of the teams, the better. Weather is another vital consideration. In the Florida Everglades where

thunderstorms occur frequently, it was necessary to set up lightening rods around the site.

Temperature should be considered and portable shelters (DRASH) that can provide a cooling

atmosphere in high heat atmospheres (keeping in mind the NTSB reports have indicated most

accidents occur in June, or July, particularly hot months), or in cold weather, warm atmospheres

will need to be set up as rehab shelters. Portable lavatories need to be brought to the crash

location. Fuel tankers will be needed to replenish portable generators and gas-powered tools at

the site (p. 8-12).

          Perry, writing about the same crash in, The Crash Of Valujet Flight 592, EMS Magazine,

April, 1997 gives additional considerations. Due to the potential for puncture wounds Tetanus

shots should be given to all responders on site who have not had recent shots. Sunburn can be a

major problem and the use of a strong sunblock is recommended. Animal control officers might

need to be considered depending on the type of wilderness. In the Everglades, alligators and

snakes were a constant problem. Practically speaking, Perry recommends having a finance


in place for documentation and securing of needed funds. The absence of a finance officer can

seriously delay operations (p. 51-58).

       Information on actual response requirements for an aircraft incident was detailed in

Collision, EMS Magazine, September, 1992. Cowen wrote about in aircraft incident that

occurred on-site at Los Angeles International Airport which he responded to. After the initial air

crash rescue units arrived;(1 rescue, 2 engines, and at least 2 command supervisory personnel)

and a size up was completed, the following additional resources were requested:

       •   5 additional paramedic ambulances

       •   3 air ambulances

       •   2 tasks forces for additional manpower

       •   1 HERT (Hospital Emergency Response Team)

       •   An additional EMS supervisor

       •   Separate tactical channels for medical group operations, as well as other functional

           operational groups

       •   CISD (Critical Incident Stress Debriefing) personnel (p. 35)

       Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Aircraft Rescue Firefighting, Palm Beach International

Airport Standard Operational Guidelines, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Department, April,

1998, lists the following type and number of response units, for an off- site aircraft crash:

       •   Activate Mass Casualty Disaster Plan through EOC on order from Incident


       •   1-Aviation District Chief

       •   1-Aviation Battalion Chief

•   3-Brush Trucks

•   Triage Trailers

•   1-Mobile Command Bus

•   10-Rescues

•   10-BLS Transport Ambulances

•   4-Engines

•   2-District or Battalion Chiefs

•   1-Rescue Chief

•   1-Deputy Chief

•   1-Fire Rescue Administrator

•   2-Rescue Lieutenants

•   2-Tankers

•   1-Aerial

•   1-Mechanic

•   1-Volunteer Support Unit

A second alarm assignment would include:

•   1-Rescue

•   1-Engine

•   1-Brush Truck

•   1-Rescue Lieutenant, and possibly, upon request of IC:

•   1-Additional Tanker

       •   2-Additional Rescue Lieutenants

       •   10-Additional ALS vehicles

       •   10-Additional BLS vehicles (p.10A-11A).

       In summation, the literary review led this researcher to the conclusion that if Tamarac

actually experienced an aircraft accident, it would most likely be an off-site crash. It could be

high impact, with the likelihood of no survivors from the plane itself but possibly some on-

ground survivors if the plane impacted a building. The crash could be a low-impact incident;

scrutiny of several years worth of NTSB data reveals there have been a significant number of

these in Tamarac and the surrounding area, and the likelihood of survivors is much greater. This

survival rate could be enhanced with additional training of fire department responders and

planning an AIMS to enhance our readiness for an instant disaster of this type.

       A summary of information gleaned from the literature review compelled this project into

several directions. A review of our current emergency management plan was necessary to

determine what, if anything, was needed to make a more comprehensive instant disaster

emergency plan in respect to aircraft crashes. Additionally, we needed to assess our risks for an

instant disaster, with respect to aircraft crashes. A complete risk assessment for the community

would be far greater in scope than this project’s time would allow. However, an accurate, if

brief, vulnerability and hazard assessment (using the model from Unit 4 of the EAOFSOEM

class) could be, and was, conducted to provide more detailed data with which to analyze our

readiness (evaluative research). To define what fire rescue responders might expect from a

practical point of view, it was decided to conduct interviews with persons whom had actually

been to an off-site airplane crash to better construct our IDEA plan (historical research).

Additional, and up to the moment, information would be provided by the NTSB web site, to

provide current data as needed to make sound conclusions. Finally, information gleaned from the

literature review gave pertinent background information and helped establish questions that

would be used in personal interviews. A thorough review of all information was to give us

insight into what would be needed to formulate a more comprehensive instant disaster response



        The theme for this research project developed as a result of analyzing our readiness for


instant disaster, with particular reference to an aircraft crash in, or near, Tamarac and finding that

there was no definitive plan established for this type of disaster. A number of resources were

used to collect data and pushed the project into several various directions in which to make

inquiries, including a personal interviews with Miami-Dade County fire and law enforcement

personnel whom had worked on a crash site, the Valujet crash in the Florida Everglades, an

environment similar to what Tamarac personnel could expect; the (Appendix A). The Learning

Resource Center at the National Fire Academy provided extensive articles and data which was

included in the literature review. The library system of Palm Beach County also contained a

wealth of information in book and periodical formats. A review of Tamarac’s current Emergency

Management Plan was conducted (Appendix B attached index page only, for brevity)

Emergency response plans from air-crash rescue fire departments in the tri-county area of: Palm

Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade provided specific response information as outlined in the

Literature review (Palm Beach County included for brevity). A Risk Assessment Analysis was

performed using the Risk Assessment Matrix from Unit 4 of the EAOFSOEM class of the

Executive Fire Officer Program (Appendix C). The department of Community Development

provided census information on populations that would assist with the vulnerability assessment

and provide potential target hazard information. (Appendix D). The National Transportation

Safety Board was contacted via the internet, and, and an automatic informational e-mail send out was set up

delivering up to the moment updates on any information concerning aircraft crashes to this

researcher (Appendix E, as example). Combining information gathered from all these sources

provided a sound basis with which to consider a more comprehensive instant disaster plan.

       Assumptions and Limitations

       Time is always a limiting factor when doing an extensive research project. Six months to

complete the project, initially, seemed adequate but to conduct personal interviews means to

determine which people with personal experience on the subject would be most advantageous to

interview, then locate them, and try to find a time that is suitable for them for an interview. The

personal interview format itself was somewhat constricting as the researcher is required to ask

the same questions of all persons interviewed. The personal interview format itself, is inherently

erroneous, particularly when seeking information from individuals whom assumed widely

varying roles at the scene of disaster. However, the questions were used as a format only and the

interviewed subjects were allowed to expound on their experiences and provided additional

information that was valuable to the research. Time was also a problem in completing a thorough

community risk assessment analysis. For brevity the research project centered only on plane

crashes. It was unimportant how or why they occurred; whether it was mechanical failure or

terrorist act. The research scope was to look at how well Tamarac is prepared for a catastrophic

disaster of an immediate nature. Therefore, the hazard section which deals with the probability of

occurrence was essentially completed before the project started. That is, the probability of an

occurrence was already assumed based on Tamarac’s history of small airplane crashes. A full-

scale community risk assessment would have exceeded the given time frame for completing this


       Another limitation was that during the research, perhaps the largest instant disaster in the

nation’s history occurred on September 11, 2001. Due to the fact that it was an act of terrorism,

some informational sources became restricted and some individuals selected to be interviewed

decided to forego the interviews, some stating security reasons and others had to respond to the

World Trade Center disaster site. Lines of information previously open were restricted, or closed

completely for security reasons. Airport personnel and facilities became particularly guarded.

Additionally, in respect to September 11, the fact that the selected research project had so many

correlations to the terrorist act itself, the project became a daunting task of trying to select what

was now relevant in a world that was drastically and irrevocably altered. The question of what

can any organization do to prepare for such an instant disaster became a challenging point when,

in the end it seemed, looking at both New York and Washington D.C.’s targets, that no one can

prepare adequately, and all that any organization can do is respond to the disaster. If that is the

case, then fire rescue organizations are doomed to manage by disaster only and that is not

acceptable. Therefore, the research continued, somewhat altered due to the tragedy of September

11th, but persevered nonetheless in the hope that if this type of terrorism continues then,

eventually, all fire rescue departments will be required to have this type of instant disaster

planning whether they are near an airport, or not.

        Definition Of Terms and Abbreviations

        AIMS: Aircraft Incident Management System.

        DRASH: Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter.

        EOC: Emergency Operations Center.

        FAA: Federal Aviation Administration.

        FDLE: Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

        FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency.

        General Aviation: the term assigned to cover all aircraft that are not commercial


        IAP: Incident Action Plan.

        IDEA Plan: Instant (or immediate) Disaster Emergency Activation Plan: a term devised

        by the researcher to quantify an emergency plan of an immediate nature, such as a plane


        NTSB: National Transportation Safety Board.

        MCI: Multiple Casualty Incident: there are generally three levels. Level 1 is 5-10

        patients. Level 2 is 11-20 patients, and Level 3 is over 20 patients.

        MMMF’s: Man Made Mineral Fibres: a general classification of materials used in the

        construction of most modern aircraft.

        SPIDER Plan: Slow Progressing Incident of Disaster Emergency Response Plan: a term

       devised by the researcher to quantify an emergency plan of a slow progressing disaster,

       such as a hurricane.

       START: Simple Triage And Rapid Treatment.

       USAR: Urban Search And Rescue: A team of technical rescue professionals from various

       fire rescue departments with specializations expertise and assigned to disasters as a

       Federal Task Force working under FEMA.


       1.      What emergency procedures are currently in place to mitigate responses to large-

               scale community disasters?

       The Tamarac Emergency Plan is the adopted emergency plan for the City. It is a good

plan and comprehensive for a hurricane. However, the plan is strictly hurricane driven, that is,

designed to mitigate response for a slowly progressing incident of disaster emergency response

(SPIDER), with adequate media and departmental warnings issued to both fire rescue personnel

and civilians. Indeed, South Florida residents are so accustomed to hurricane threats that many

have their own preparations in place and CERT’s (Citizen Emergency Response Teams) are

available for response.

       There is no immediate, or instant, disaster plan in place for Tamarac Fire Rescue. Much

of the current plan could be adopted into an IDEA plan, however. For brevity, the Index page has

been included in the Appendix section to indicate the areas of management that are currently

covered (Appendix B). The weakest area, and one that is not addressed at all in the current plan,

is that of actual number and type of response units. There has been no training in regard to

aircraft crashes and responders are ill-equipped for such an emergency. Police responsibilities

are vague. There are only two pages outlining police responsibilities and much of that is

patrolling to prevent looting and/or safeguarding hazardous areas or flooded streets. Emergency

supplies and equipment is insufficiently planned as well. Another weak area is the emergency

contacts area, including interaction with federal agencies. Federal agencies are practically

ignored other than a policy to guide an officer on filling out FEMA forms for reimbursement of

costs associated with a hurricane. There are no policies with direction to agencies such as the

FBI, FAA, or NTSB, as these agencies seldom deal with hurricanes but they would be of

primary importance at a crash site. There are relatively well outlined policies for assembling an

EOC; who is required to respond, who is in charge, which responsibilities are given to whom,

etcetera. There is also some reference as to when to contact the County EOC. The location of the

City’s EOC is in the western area of the City and very close to what may be the largest

residential target area. It’s size and logistics, equipment and communications technology, the

building’s construction itself, is insufficient to the point of being unpractical and unsafe for a

contingent of emergency managers to conduct an operation other than one that is minimal in


          There were vulnerability and hazard assessments completed and included in the plan, but

it is based on the 1990 census figures, and a 1996 “estimated population” (pp.6-8). There are

several primary topics covered, briefly, in the assessment. They include a description of

“Emergency Conditions” and a brief definition of such (p.56). The Vulnerability Analysis,

based on the 1996 estimated population figures states that the City’s vulnerable population is

those residents, 65 years and older, of which the City is comprised of approximately fifty


The Hazard Analysis includes several categories: Hurricanes and Tropical Storms (high hazard),

Tornadoes (low hazard), Flooding (moderate hazard), Nuclear Power Plants (low hazard),

Hazardous Materials (moderate hazard) and Armed Violence, to include Terrorism (low hazard)

(pp.6-8). This area gives a brief description of what causes terrorism and mentions that

South Florida’s vulnerability is increasing. It ends by stating that there “very likely would be a

joint jurisdictional management of the operation coordinated at the County level and include the

Sheriff and FDLE”. It states that the lead agency “may be FEMA or the Department of Justice”

(p.8). There is no reference to aircraft crashes.

       The practical application of numerous areas and responsibilities is outlined in the plan,

such as the City’s various department’s responsibilities: including: fire, finance, risk, public

works, parks and recreation, social services, utilities, communications, personnel, building,

community development, politician responsibilities and basic operational responsibilities and

preparedness (pp.9-10).

       2.      What is Tamarac’s current Risk Assessment Analysis particularly with those risks

               that tasks the fire department beyond normal capabilities?

       Unit 4: Community Risk Assessment from the EAOFSOEM class of the National Fire

Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program was utilized. Risk Assessment Analysis is conducted

by completing three matrices:

       •    Matrix 1: Hazard Identification

       •    Matrix 2: Vulnerability Assessment

       •    Matrix 3: Risk Rating

       Hazard Identification was essentially completed prior to the beginning of this research

project. That is, the hazard was already determined: plane crashes. There are numerous potential

hazards for any community. Because the scope of this project specifically focused on plane

crashes, the hazard was already defined. Some risk mapping was completed by the department

of Community Development and some target hazards established. For this part of the research, a

high population residential area was chosen. The Hazard Identification Matrix was used and the

following results established (Appendix F).

       1.      What is the probability this hazard will occur?

Potential answers are: 1. unlikely, 2. possible, or 3. likely. Based on the communities previous

history of plane crashes, the answer was likely.

       2.      What is your best estimate of the total population that could be affected seriously

               by this hazard? Consider peak population:

       Based on information provided by the City’s Community Development Department, it

was determined the highest number of population that would be affected would be those in a

residential area on the westernmost area of the city called Kings Point. This is a highly

condensed condominium residence populated with a majority of elderly resident, many with

limited mobility. 4867 persons live in several multi-storied buildings which could be an

accidental crash site from a plane approaching the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport from the

west. This is also the home of a predominantly Jewish community, making it a potential terrorist

attack site. Demographics from the most current census do not provide information on religious

affiliations. However, Kings Point community’s focal point is the Jewish Community Center and

cultural theater in the heart of this residential area. Tamarac officials have received numerous

cautions from the FBI to be on high alert for possible terrorist activity in our South Florida

community as many of the terrorists that performed the September 11 attacks were from the

South Florida area. Additionally, executive airports have less stringent security than do

international airports. Crop dusting planes, which are potential WMD’s for terrorists are located

at the executive airport.

       Next, the Vulnerability Assessment was completed (Appendix G). In this matrix, there

are five Impact Rating categories with three quantifiers, each with escalating points for severity:

low = 1 point, moderate = 2 points, and high = 3 points. At the bottom of the matrix, there is a

Total Vulnerability Rating. The categories were estimated and justifications are given:

       Danger/ Destruction: 3 points because, “numerous fatalities, mass casualties overwhelm

       system, infrastructure compromised for more than 24 hours.”

       Economic: 2 points because, “will either exceed community fiscal limitations, or effect

       is permanent.”

       Environmental: 2 points because, “impact is long tern, or affects public health.”

       Social: 2 points because, “some shelters established, some historical/cultural values


       Political Planning Level: 3 points because, “planning, response, and recovery are at the

       Federal level.”

       Total Vulnerability Rating: 12. 5 to 8 is “low.” 9 to 11 is “moderate.” 12 to 15 is

“high.” At 12, Tamarac’s vulnerability rating is high.

       Finally, the Risk Rating Matrix was completed (Appendix C). Again using just one

hazard, airplane crash, the equation for the matrix went like this:

       Probability of occurrence: high = 3 points.

       Vulnerability: high = 3 points.

       Risk (probability x vulnerability) total: 9 = high.

       3. What experiences have other fire rescue and off-site responders encountered that might

assist in the development of mitigation response?

       The literature review provided some experiences that responders have encountered that

would be beneficial to developing mitigation response. To further develop possible response

planning from a personal and practical point of view, a personal interview format was developed

(Appendix A). Several persons whom had worked on the site of the Valujet crash in the Florida

Everglades were contacted and gave taped interviews based on their various experiences.

Answers to the personal interview questions are provided in narrative form and have been

abridged for brevity. Again, due to the September 11 attacks, some interview subjects were no

longer available. Others were deleted as their answers were repetitive to those already gathered.

       Interview Subject Number One: Major Russell Fischer, Miami-Dade Police Department.

Major Fischer worked as the “forward site supervisor/commander.”

       “My initial observations upon arriving at the site pertain to the difficulties of the

situation. The heat, looming thunderstorms, biohazardous conditions and the isolated location of

the incident. How would we recover human remains from such a location? The crash happened

late afternoon and it was getting dark. An initial flyover was done with helicopters and it was

apparent there were no survivors. A decision was made to begin operations the next morning.

The first consideration was how do we get to the site and begin operations. Helicopters began

bringing personnel in and it became clear that this was going to take several days. A canal was

located near the site and we decided to use police boats to bring in personnel as well. Driving in

was not going to be feasible.

       “Basic safety considerations became apparent right away. Water, food, shelter. The heat

was going to be a problem. The fire department had big tents that could be air

conditioned. Two main tents were set up; one was used for command and operations. One was

used for rest and relaxation, eating, etcetera. This was critical right from the beginning. The

biggest safety concerns (on the site itself) was the jet fuel and biohazards. There was some fear

of alligators and other animals. Water was a big factor for hydration of personnel.

       “We did have a general disaster plan in place with general references to airplane crashes.

But, we (the police) were not well versed in incident command. Since the crash, we have been

schooled in incident command. We have become much more sophisticated. We now have a

mobile critical incident management unit. These people are trained in this type of operation. The

fire department was well versed in incident command and that knowledge helped on the scene.

       “Risk assessment is done more by the fire department than the police department. We are

aware of some target hazards but mostly we don’t deal with risk assessment, not formally


       “The police department has a health services department that deals with critical incident

stress debriefing. They were present everyday on the scene (of the crash) in a kind of low profile

way. They were available for anyone who thought they might need to talk to someone. They


for everyone: civilians, police and fire personnel. It was not mandatory for anyone to talk to


but everyone was acutely aware that they were there for them. An after action report was done

and they went on record as saying there were no major incidents (of critical incident stress)

involving personnel. Many of the police that were there were from homicide and they are

somewhat used to seeing dead people, so there was not much negative impact. But, the beauty of

it was that the staff psychologists was out there, eating with people and so forth, and they were

looking for people who might be showing some problems. This tact, though informal, was


          “I was the forward site commander, involved mainly with recovery. But, there was an

overall commander as well that dealt with logistics, NTSB, and so forth. I dealt with the

NTSB quite a bit as well.

          “From a police department point of view (to be better prepared) we could use some

training in incident command. Planning would have helped. Certainly we need more specialized

equipment than we had at the time. Availability of funds for procurement of equipment. We had

a cumbersome way of procuring funds and that has changed. Being familiar with the fire

department command has helped and we have meshed that with the police department command.

We (the police) were very impressed with the fire department’s system. Someone fills a role and

after their shift is over someone else can fill in that role. Logistics, food, water, etcetera, is

important and the fire department had that down better than the police. They had the decon

procedures down to a science and that was important.

       Interview Subject Two: Battalion Chief Cindy Sears, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. Battalion

Chief Sears initial role was “planning section chief.”

       “We did a flyover just to determine where it (the crash) was. It was just a hole in the

ground. Objectively, it was very difficult just to pinpoint where it was. It was a pretty forbidding

place. Our official position was (still) it was a rescue operation. In our hearts we just knew, there

was just no way... .We didn’t go into recovery mode until well into the next day.

       “The appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) and safety equipment should be

considered a high priority. There was decon procedures going on all the time. This was a

protracted incident-- we were out there over thirty days and I would add, that the highest priority

would be to get everyone together from the beginning, organize all the resources and get

everyone on the same page, so that you reduce the risk of duplicating efforts, wasting resources

and manpower and making sure everyone is safe.

       “Primary safety concerns should be an awareness of the environment you’re working in.

In a previous crash of an L-10 in the early ‘70's, we had problems with gangrene and so forth

from working in the muck with fuel and biohazards. We used epidemiologists from the

University of Miami and they were doing continuous testing of the mud and water so that site

workers knew what they were in. Along with that, you had the heat and humidity, rough working

conditions and you needed a place to get them out of that for rehab. On top of that, we had the

regular afternoon thunderstorms and a threat of lightening. We put up lightening rods, because

out there (the Everglades) we were the biggest target. The fuel was the main concern at the

actual crash site. The alligators were a problem in the perimeter around the site because, I

believe, it was alligator mating season. The game and fish agency was out there and patrolled in

boats, armed with rifles.

        “I was the planning section chief. We had an IAP (Incident Action Plan) the first night.

Safety being the biggest concern. Our initial IAP’s were brief as they should be but after the first

week, they grew to be voluminous. We were basically supporting the police department, because

of the homicide aspect, at that point (as a primary goal of the IAP) and we couldn’t do enough


them. Another thing we did was make sure we had tetanus shots for all site workers. We had our

occupational safety experts giving inoculations. A lot of this type of thing came from our USAR

team experience; they had dealt with this type of thing before. A lot of it is simple hand washing;

something you don’t think about much on a normal operation but you have to when you’re in


type of environment. The shelters with air conditioning was helpful as well. The decon facilities

were important. Communications was a real problem. We were able to set up communications,

again because of the USAR team they set up communications all over the world we were able to

set up portable repeaters. We had cell phones everywhere. We basically built a city. It was very

impressive...until we got the bill.

        “We had alarm assignments for this type of thing; number of units that would respond

and so forth. It does differ a little bit whether it is an on-site or off-site operation. But is there a

plan that says this is our off-site, Everglades aircraft crash plan? No. We have the IC plan. We

have response strategies.

       “Emergency Operations Center traditionally does community risk assessment and they

fall under the umbrella of the fire department. Then, more locally, Battalion Chiefs do risk

assessment in their areas of responsibility. There’s not always a great sharing of information. But

the EOC puts this together very well.

       “CISD counselors on the site is pretty usual for us. Anytime you are deployed (to a large

scale incident) it is mandatory that you attend a CISD. We’re pretty pro-active with this type of

thing. Its good that its there in case it there’s someone who is struggling with things but it is a

very individual thing. I think it was very useful in the last line of fire death we had. It was very


       “Basically, an operation like this can be more effective if there are good, strong

interagency relationships developed prior to an incident. If you at least know the people it would

help. Getting together for the first time on a scene like this can be confusing especially when you

are handing out IAP’s and everyone has their own idea of what they think they are supposed to

be doing, what their responsibilities are.

       Interview Subject Number Three: Harold Sears, Training Captain, Miami-Dade Fire

Rescue, Air Crash Rescue. Captain Sears was safety officer on the Valujet crash site.

       “I was Safety Officer. For the Valujet crash, primary safety concerns were


bio, and fuel hazards. Getting to the site was a safety concern. Naturally occurring hazards such

as bacteria were a concern. Heat. Another crash site, Finn-Air, was primarily a fuel hazard

complicated by the fire attack itself. Primary safety concerns at the forward site (of the Valujet

crash) were heat exhaustion, because they were all in Tyvek suits and needed proper

decontamination. Eating facilities had to be controlled; everyone had to be deconned before

eating. Even just hydrating people, workers had to be deconned before drinking water. We knew

about the alligators.

         Out of series question: Do you have designated response assignments for your crash

rescue division for either on-site, or off-site crashes?

         “We have various preparation levels, or alerts that give us various levels of response


Alert 1, we are standing by at the fire station. Alert 3, we are standing by on the runway in

designated spots. An alert 3 means we have an actual crash itself. Any type of crash,


or general aircraft would be an Alert 3. If we called for an Airport Assignment, we would get: 9

additional suppression vehicles, 9 additional rescue trucks, 3 additional Battalions (Chiefs), air

rescue (helicopter), a hazardous materials response unit. After that it becomes more ancillary.


         As the focus of this project centered on Tamarac’s preparedness for an instant disaster, a

review of our current plan was necessary, as well as an assessment of Tamarac’s risks. The latter

was accomplished by performing a community risk assessment. Additionally, a review of

literature pertaining to instant disasters, with particular reference to aircraft crashes, was

necessary as well as collecting information from those sources whom had had experience with

such an event. The literature review provided specific information on aircraft details, safety

concerns, and response requirements, as well as background information that led to the questions

asked in the personal interview format.

       The review of Tamarac’s current Emergency Plan revealed that it was, basically, a good

and comprehensive plan for slow progressing incidents of disaster, which we have come to refer

to as SPIDER’s, such as hurricanes and flooding. The plan was inadequate providing information

in what we have come to refer to as IDEA’s, or instant disasters emergency activation. Clearly,

the weakest area of the plan is that it does not provide specific response information. It does not

suggest a number, or type of units, that should respond. Emergency supplies and equipment are

not outlined, or suggested. The plan lacks an IAP (incident action plan) for aircraft crashes, or

any disaster that might be immediate in nature. Interaction with Federal agencies is practically


Contacts with these agencies is left up to a vague suggestion of letting the county EOC make

contacts with the required agencies once it has been established which may take some time and,

in the mean time, leaves responders with the responsibility of mitigating the incident and not

knowing who, or if, appropriate agencies are responding to assist. This is unacceptable. Looking

at the literary review statistics on aircraft crashes and integrating the information gleaned from

the risk assessment that was conducted, it is apparent that it is not a matter of if a plane crash

will happen in Tamarac, but when (Nilo, p. 70, 2000, and NTSB Annual Reports, pp.13, 1996 &

1997). There is no AIMS, and the current Emergency Plan does not provide for many of the

agencies that are expected to respond, such as federal disaster coordinating agencies,

psychological response teams, private contractors, legal agencies, NTSB or FAA, ATF and/or

DEA, FBI, etcetera (Carr and Omans, p.146, 1991). Currently, Tamarac is ill-prepared to

integrate the services of these outside agencies.

       If Tamarac Fire Rescue responded to an aircraft crash, the organization would be

overwhelmed immediately. Tamarac Fire Rescue is a small department with only two engines,

and four or five rescues as front line units. There are automatic and mutual aid agreements in

place with nearby fire departments but training in air crash rescue has been negligible with all of

these responders. More importantly, there has been no training of fire department personnel on

air crash rescue response, structural components of aircraft, or expectations of what to expect

upon arrival as such a scene.

       Ausmus wrote, “all fire fighters should have some basic knowledge of aircraft rescue and

fire fighting procedures and fire fighters having airports within their jurisdictions should become

familiar with types of aircraft operating in their area as many of these airports rely on personnel

and resources provided by surrounding fire departments” ( p.38, 1994). There has been no

training in the subject of aircraft crashes, or aircraft structure, or the myriad of hazards

associated with crash scenes such as those pointed out by Woodward (pp.34-35, 1997) This lack

of knowledge could lead to serious safety problems and result in injury, or death of numerous

responders, as well as hampering any efforts to assist even a small number of survivors. There

are no plans or training for decon procedures, or awareness made of the bio hazards,

environmental hazards, or haz-mat hazards that may be encountered at a crash site. There is no

specialized equipment available, nor pre-contracting with those private, or public agencies whom

might provide such equipment. Equipment such as boats and temporary shelters maybe needed

but are currently not readily available.

       Tamarac’s Public Works Department could be utilized but they, too, lack any training in

this area. Other agencies could be called in, last minute so to speak, but doing so might place

them in harm’s way and burden the fire department with the responsibility of their welfare and

possible litigation in the aftermath.

       There has been extensive training in MCI and START procedures in Tamarac, as Kuhr

and Lee suggest (p. 55, 1993), but there has been very little training in haz- mat mitigation, or

the zoning of command that Woodward suggested (p.36, 1997). Something as simple as a plan

for the number of units that should respond to a crash is non-existent. Plans, such as Palm Beach

County’s crash response plan could serve as a model for initial response requirements but pre-

event planning would require additional mutual and automatic aid agreements, which at this

time, are non-existent, or very limited.

       Information gathered in the personal interviews with people whom had worked in an

environment very similar to which Tamarac responders might find themselves, tells us there are

special needs. Agreements with the county health agency to provide tetanus shots, contacts with

animal control, and even contacts and training with volunteer agencies need to be completed.

There is an Employee Assistance Program in place in Tamarac, as well as some minimal CISD

trained personnel. However, it is unclear how many psychologically trained persons could, or

would respond to an off-site crash. Tamarac does have portable repeaters that could assist with

radio communications in the event personnel had to work at a very removed site in the

Everglades, such as the Valujet crash of 1996. Likewise, Tamarac does have an experienced dive

rescue team but they, too, would need additional training in the area of recovery rather than

rescue and their equipment would have to be altered, or enhanced to work in a fuel laden, or bio-

hazard environment.

        Looking at data from the NTSB reports would suggest the most likely time of an aircraft

crash would be in the daytime, in the summer, June, or July, and high heat would be a

detrimental factor for rescue responders (pp.33-36, 1996 & 1997).

        The Risk Assessment Analysis in Tamarac is outdated and does not include reference to

air crash rescue, nor some of the hazards and concerns that are currently being considered

nationwide such as terrorist attack response. The brief Risk Assessment Analysis performed for

this research project clearly shows that there is a high likelihood of an aircraft crash in, or around

Tamarac, and that there are areas in the community that are vulnerable either to accidental

crashes, or terrorist acts.

        The fact that many of these residents are elderly would suggest that responders could

reasonably expect patients with already limited mobility that could not physically deal with

being displaced from their homes, or healthcare provisions. The task of just relocating uninjured

but displaced residents would be daunting and there is currently no plan for doing so.

        Organizational implications of this project’s results are that an analysis of Tamarac’s

preparedness for an instant disaster, such as an aircraft crash, or terrorist act are currently



        Recommendations relate directly to the stated problem and purpose. That is, an analysis

of Tamarac’s disaster preparedness revealed that the City does not have a plan that can

adequately deal with a disaster of an immediate nature. In this project, we looked at aircraft

crashes, specifically; the causes of such are not paramount to the analysis. However, in light of

the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001, the need for such an analysis became

much more significant. Recommendations are varied but supported by the research that was

conducted and included in the following paragraphs.

        1) A comprehensive community risk assessment should be conducted to include the risk

of instant disasters such as aircraft crashes, or terrorists attacks, but should not be limited to just

those areas. Anthrax attacks would not be considered instant but they can be devastating and a

number of them showed up in South Florida. Indeed, Tamarac Fire Rescue operations was, at

times, overwhelmed with responses to these attacks. A thorough risk assessment would bear out

the results of this research project and assessors would find that there is a significant

vulnerability to aircraft crashes in Tamarac, whether by mechanical failure, pilot error, or

terrorist attack. This vulnerability should compel further development of Tamarac’s Emergency

Management Plan to include response for an instant disaster emergency activation plan (IDEA).

        2) The IDEA plan should include contact information for all outside agencies and

specifically those federal agencies which would undoubtedly respond to such an event but are

seldom contacted until a disaster occurs. Pre-disaster meetings should be conducted with

representatives from agencies such as the FBI, NTSB, FAA, ATF, DEA, FEMA and the regional

USAR teams, the county health department, the county coroner’s office, CISD workers, and

perhaps most importantly, airport personnel. Local contractors who can supply special

equipment should be contacted and pre-event agreements made. The purpose of these meetings

should be to establish a rapport that, hopefully, would enhance on-scene relationships between

all entities and help add order to a chaotic event. Meetings and agreements with surrounding fire

departments should be conducted and a typical response plan established for the estimated

number and type of units needed for an aircraft crash, whether it be high or low impact, in an

uninhabited area or a

residential community. An AIMS should be designed using these designated units. To continue

without such a response plan would be irresponsible.

       3) Training of all fire department personnel, and to include volunteer CERT personnel,

local politicians, and other nearby fire departments and law enforcement personnel should be


       4) A relationship with law enforcement is paramount to the plan and training should be

conducted with police and fire personnel so that responders will be aware that crash sites may be

crime scenes and appropriate measures are assured to safeguard the scene. Fire fighters should

be given extensive training in the structural makeup of aircraft, the hazards associated with

aircraft crashes, and specific response information such as correct approach, fire stream

management, what to expect on scene, safety considerations, incident command and START

procedures, and who to call when such a crisis occurs. Further terrorist training and WMD

training should be conducted.

       5) Training and procedures for urban search and rescue should be established in the event

a plane impacts a building. Tamarac’s dive rescue team and nearby Sunrise Fire Rescue’s haz-

mat response team should be trained in air crash rescue procedures, and all personnel should be

well trained in decon procedures for airplane crash sites as well as other haz-mat incidents that

can occur instantly.

       6) Equipment and supplies should be purchased and stored, ready for instant deployment.

Such equipment should include at least two DRASH shelters and portable air conditioning

equipment. The DRASH could be set up quickly and from the start of the event to ensure some

environmental protection for on-site responders. Having at least two shelters would allow for a

forward site for emergency personnel and an off-site command post logistical, financial, planing

and other support team members. Portable lightening rods should be considered, especially for

responses into wide open areas such as the Everglades. This equipment should be stored with

other disaster management equipment and supplies, including the portable repeaters that

Tamarac currently has. Additional backboards should be purchased, or a logistical connection

established with an agency whom may provide them in short time, to remove both surviving

crash victims and those who have perished. Inflatable boats should be purchased to aid in the

deployment of personnel to a possible waterous site, such as the Everglades, and/or pre-event

agreements made with game and fish agencies to deploy airboats to the scene in a timely fashion.

Tamarac has a bus system and this could be utilized to transport personnel to the scene, as well

as remove those patients with little or no injuries. Some basic training on what to expect and how

to respond for the drivers of these vehicles should be established.

       7) A relationship with the county health agencies needs to be established. Emergency

medical supply needs should be established and include: tetanus shots, and anti-venom drugs in

case of snake bites. Training should be conducted for medical personnel who may have to

respond to the site. Additional medical comfort supplies should be considered and include

quantities of sunblock and insect repellants.

       8) Agreements with nearby nursing home facilities and hotels should be established and

training conducted with these agencies to accept those residents whom may be left homeless

after a crash that impacts a residential building. It is highly likely that a residential building such

as those that were identified in our vulnerability assessment (Kingspoint), would be left

uninhabitable but that there would be a significant number of survivors left homeless and many

of these would be elderly persons. Contacts should be established with mental health agencies to

establish procedures to ensure persons trained in CISD would respond and treat survivors as well

as emergency personnel as needed, which could continue throughout the rescue/recovery

operations and for many weeks thereafter.

       9) Finally, Tamarac’s EOC should be relocated and rebuilt, constructed with bomb-

proofing construction and updated with new technology; specifically, communications



Aircraft Rescue and Fire fighting Procedures. (March, 1992).

IFSTA. pp. 122-125.

Annual Review Of Aircraft Accident Data: Calendar Year 1996. (1999). National

Transportation Safety Board. Washington, DC. pp. 1-3, 33-34, 36, 39, 45.

Annual Review Of Aircraft Accident Data: Calendar Year 1997. (2000). National

Transportation Safety Board. Washington, DC. pp. 1-3, 33,34, 36, 39,45.

Annual Report, Tamarac Fire Rescue. (2000). Tamarac, FL. (p.3)

Ausmus, Franklin G. (July, 1994). Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting For Structural Fire

Departments. The Voice. pp. 38-40.

Carr, John N. and Omans, Leslie P. (March, 1991). Aircraft Incident Management System: A

Team Approach, Fire Engineering. pp. 143-146.

Cowen, Alan. (September, 1992). Collision. EMS Magazine. pp. 35.

Emergency Response Plan. (April, 1997). City Of Tamarac. Tamarac, FL. (pp.6, 56-58).

Fischer, Russell. (September, 1997). Emergency In The Everglades: The Recovery Of Valujet

Flight 592. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin . pp. 8-12.

Hilvers, Bob. (September, 1995). What Every Chief Should Know About Plane Crashes. Fire

Chief. pp. 42-48.

Kuhr, Steven and Lee, Michael. (September/October, 1993). No Fly By Night Operation: MCI

Response to Aviation Disasters. Rescue. pp. 55-56.

Lindemann, Tom. (November/December, 1995). Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting: Vital

Information For The Responder. Industrial Fire World. pp. 8.

Nilo, James, R. (February, 2000). Have Trainer, Will Travel. Fire Chief. pp. 70-71.

Perry, Nancy. (April, 1997). The Crash Of Valujet Flight 592. EMS Magazine. pp. 51-58

Phillips, Thomas J. (June, 1995). Now What Do I Do? Firehouse. pp. 104-105.

Publications Manual (1998) (4th Edition).American Psychological Association. Washington,


Smith, Barry D. (March/April, 1993). Light Aircraft Accidents. Emergency. pp. 26.

Wann, Charles F. (September, 1995). When A Big Crash Happens In A Small Community. Fire

Chief. pp. 51-52.

Woodward, Mark Edward. (March, 1997). Managing Fibre Hazards At Aircraft Incidents. Fire

Engineers Journal. pp.34-16.

                                          Appendix A

An Analysis Of Fire Rescue Preparedness For Instant Disaster Emergency Activation (I.D.E.A.)
     Plans. An applied research project for the National Fire Academy. Student: Patrick
                      Kendrick, Battalion Chief, Tamarac Fire Rescue
                               Personal Interview Questions

1.    Please describe your initial observations upon arriving at the site of the airline crash, first
      objectively (observations of geography, access, resource allocation, etc.) then, if possible,
      subjectively (initial impressions, theories, thoughts on planning, etc).

2.    Having worked on an off-site aircraft crash, what primary needs do you consider to be of
      the highest priority for responders to this type of disaster?

3.    What, in your opinion, do you consider to be the primary safety concerns for responders
      to an off-site aircraft crash?

4.    What resources (manpower, communications, food, shelter, special equipment, etc.) did
      you feel were most needed?

5.    Did your department have a plan in place for an immediate, or instant, disaster of the type
      associated with an aircraft crash? Does it now?

6.    Has your department conducted any Risk Assessment Analysis of areas in your
      community that would be most impacted by an instant disaster?

7.    There is a large body of documentation about the lingering psychological aftermath of
      large scale, instant disasters on rescue and law enforcement responders. Did your
      department conduct crisis intervention discussions? Was CISD counseling offered
      individually, in groups, or both? Do you feel the debriefing was helpful to your
      department’s personnel?

8.    What was your position in your department when you responded to the aircraft crash?
      What position(s) did you perform while at the crash site?

9.    In retrospect, what could initial responders do to make such a rescue/recovery operation
      run more efficiently, or be more effective overall?

Appendices B-G is not included. Please visit the Learning Resource Center on the Web at to learn how to obtain this report in its entirety through
      Interlibrary Loan

Appendices B, C, D, E, F, G is all available on the hardcopy only of this project.

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