Burlington County HSAS Guideline
GUIDANCE FOR THE PREPARATION OF
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
FOR THE VARIOUS
HSAS THREAT ALERT LEVELS
AS DEFINED BY THE
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
For use by the
BURLINGTON COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENTS
Prepared by C. Kenneth Anderson and Joseph Lehmann, Jr.
Burlington County Fire Coordinator
with the information from the
NJ Division of Fire Safety
International Association of Fire Chiefs
United States Fire Administration
Burlington County Office of Emergency Management
The Fire Departments in Burlington County provide many services to the citizens of their communities. A principal service is fire suppression response, including various related services as defined in the mission of the Department. Those services can include: rescue, extrication, trench rescue, high angle rescue, providing EMS, hazardous materials incidents, etc.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are developed for many contingencies. Mutual aid assistance is built into many SOPs.
If there is a widespread terrorist event, all Fire Departments in a geographic area might be taxed to their limits. Mutual aid may not be available until the State Emergency Operations Plan is put into effect and mutual aid is dispatched from some distance.
The U. S. Department of Homeland Security has developed a system of Threat Conditions. The system has been adopted in New Jersey. It is appropriate for Fire Department to develop an SOP to list the actions that will be taken at the several Threat Condition levels.
The Fire Department Chief, or the Homeland Security Officer, can use these guidelines to develop an SOP for the Department. In the developing a Threat Level SOP, the Fire Chief may evaluate the existing Department Operational SOPs for Hurricanes or Floods and find that very little has to be added to provide for the security required for the lower Threat Levels.
Fire Departments should establish local measures to transition between Threat Condition levels for their facilities and personnel. Individual Fire Departments are responsible for routinely reviewing the effectiveness of day-to-day physical security measures under the existing Threat Condition within all facilities occupied by the Department.
These measures must be reviewed when the Terrorist Threat Level changes or when directed by an authority having jurisdiction (Mayor, Director, Emergency Management Coordinator).
Regardless, an SOP should be developed that meets the needs of the Fire Department and the Community.
The information in this Guidance document includes:
· Descriptions of the Threat Condition levels
· Suggestions of actions to consider at each Threat Condition level
Homeland Security Advisory System
The Homeland Security Advisory System is designed to measure and evaluate terrorist threats and to inform and to facilitate actions appropriate to different levels of government and to private citizens, either in their workplaces or in their homes, in a timely manner. It is a national framework; yet it is flexible to apply to threats made against a city, a state, a sector, or an industry. It provides a common vocabulary, so officials from all levels of government can communicate easily with one another and to the public. It provides clear, easy to understand factors, which help measure threat.
Most importantly, it empowers government and citizens to take actions to address the threat. For every level of threat, there will be a level of preparedness. It is a system that is equal to the threat.
The advisory system is based on five threat conditions or five different alerts: low, guarded, elevated, high and severe. They are represented by five colors: green, blue, yellow, orange and red.
The decision to name a threat condition rests with the Attorney General, after consulting with members of the Homeland Security Council, after consulting with The Secretary of Homeland Security. He will be responsible for communicating the threat to law enforcement, state and local officials, and the public.
A number of factors will be used to analyze the threat information: Is it credible? Is it a credible source? Can the threat be corroborated? Is it specific as to time or place or method of attack? What are the consequences if the attack is carried out? Can the attack be deterred? Many factors go into the value judgment; many factors go into the assessment of the intelligence.
Because the threat varies, the system is versatile and flexible enough to meet it. The federal government cannot mandate the use of this system. As the name implies, it is advisory. However, New Jersey has coordinated its alert system to the federal system.
The Homeland Security Advisory System provides a comprehensive and effective means to disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist acts to Federal, State, and local authorities and to the American people. The system provides warnings in the form of a set of graduated "Threat Conditions" that increase as the risk of the threat increases. At each Threat Condition, Federal departments and agencies implement a corresponding set of "Protective Measures" to further reduce vulnerability or increase response capability during a period of heightened alert.
This system is intended to create a common vocabulary, context, and structure for an ongoing national discussion about the nature of the threats that confront the homeland and the appropriate measures that should be taken in response. It seeks to inform and facilitate decisions appropriate to different levels of government and to private citizens at home and at work.
The following Threat Conditions each represent an increasing risk of terrorist attacks.
1. Low Condition (Green).
This condition is declared when there is a low risk of terrorist attacks. No discernable terrorist activity.
2. Guarded Condition (Blue).
This condition is declared when there is a general risk of terrorist attacks. Possible terrorist activity against unspecified targets.
3. Elevated Condition (Yellow).
An Elevated Condition is declared when there is a significant risk of terrorist attacks. A more predictable threat against an unspecified target is likely.
4. High Condition (Orange).
A High Condition is declared when there is a high risk of terrorist attacks. Terrorist attack is imminent although target information is unknown.
5. Severe Condition (Red).
A Severe Condition reflects a severe risk of terrorist attacks. Under most circumstances, the Protective Measures for a Severe Condition are not intended to be sustained for substantial periods of time. Imminent attack against known target or attack has occurred.
General Procedures to Consider for Normal Ops or a Threat Alert SOP
· Keep phone lists of your key employees and provide copies to key staff members.
· If you have a voice mail system, designate one remote number on which you can record messages for employees. Provide the number to all employees.
· Arrange for programmable call forwarding for your main business line(s). Then, if you can't get to the office, you can call in and reprogram the phones to ring elsewhere.
· If some facilities do not have emergency generators, install emergency lights that turn on when the power goes out.
· Back up computer data frequently throughout the business day. Keep a backup tape off site.
· Use UL-listed surge protectors and battery backup systems. They will add protection for sensitive equipment and help prevent a computer crash if the power goes out.
· Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature. Keep it on and when the signal sounds, listen for information about severe weather and protective actions to take.
· Stock a minimum supply of the goods, materials and equipment you would need for business continuity.
· Keep emergency supplies handy, including-
o Flashlights with extra batteries.
o First aid kit.
Food and water for employees and customers to use during a period of unexpected confinement at your business, such as if a tanker truck over-turned nearby and authorities told everyone in the area to stay put for an extended
Considerations for Local Fire Department Operational Response Measures
Low Risk - Threat Level Green
1. Refine and exercise preplanned protective measures
2. Ensure personnel receive training on the Homeland Security Advisory System and preplanned agency-specific protective measures
3. Institutionalize a process to assure that all facilities and regulated sectors are regularly assessed for vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks, and all reasonable measures are taken to mitigate these vulnerabilities
4. Maintain a list of all personnel including address and phone numbers
5. Identify alternative work sites.
6. Identify key essential personnel to move essential services to other sites if necessary
7. Check communication primary and back-up with emergency response and control centers
8. Review and update disaster/emergency response procedures
9. Provide the public with necessary information
10. Increase security checks of all vehicles assigned to your section
11. Secure all buildings, rooms and storage areas not in regular use
12. Remind all personnel to be suspicious of all strangers, particularly those carrying suitcases or other containers.
13. Be alert for suspicious vehicles in the vicinity of your facility and for abandoned packages or vehicles
14. Identify department critical infrastructures and apply low or no-cost countermeasures.
a. Develop procedures to improve daily information sharing with other local responders.
Review local protocols for incident command and unified command as
c. Conduct time-efficient, inexpensive walk-through drills and tabletop exercises with all local responding agencies.
d. Invite other local response organizations to observe or participate in full-scale department exercises planned for the future.
15. Review all plans and logistic requirements for implementation of Threat Level Blue
Guarded Risk - Threat Level Blue
1. Review and complete the required actions for Threat Level Green
2. Check communication primary and back-up with emergency response and control centers
3. Review and update emergency response procedures
4. Provide the public with any information that would strengthen its ability to act appropriately.
5. Increase security checks of all vehicles assigned to your agency
6. Secure all buildings, rooms and storage areas not in regular use
7. Remind all personnel to be suspicious of all strangers, particularly those carrying suitcases or other containers.
8. Be alert for suspicious vehicles in the vicinity of your facility and for abandoned packages or vehicles
9. Assign duty officers who maintain key response plans and are responsible for carrying out guidance security plans
10. At the beginning and end of each work day and at regular intervals inspect the interior and exterior of your facilities for suspicious activities and packages
11. Establish alternate staging locations
12. Check all deliveries to your facilities
13. Check all facility lighting, locks and fencing for serviceability and use. Take steps to have deficiencies repaired
14. Reduce the number of entrances to each facility (Channel traffic for better control)
15. Review all plans and logistic requirements for implementation of Threat Level Yellow
Elevated Risk - Threat Level Yellow
1. Review and complete the required actions for Threat Levels Green and Blue
2. At the beginning and end of each work day and at regular intervals inspect the interior and exterior of your facilities for suspicious activities, packages and vehicles
3. Reduce the number of entrances to your facility.
4. Review and coordinate emergency plans with nearby jurisdictions
5. Assess the precise characteristics of the threat information for further refinement of pre-planned protective measures of targeted facilities or functions
6. Implement, as appropriate, contingency and emergency response plans.
7. Start using contingency and emergency response plans as required.
8. Remind all vehicle operators to lock parked vehicles and do walk around checks.
9. Inform all personnel on the general situation.
10. Move vehicles, trash receptacles and other containers at least 50 feet from buildings
11. Increase examination of all mail for FBI warning signs
12. Increase surveillance of critical locations
13. Consider inspecting and escorting all visitors, carried items, and containers
14. Consider restriction of deliveries and/or by appointment only
15. Consider placing essential personnel on standby
16. Maintain open communication by providing regular information releases to stop rumors and prevent unnecessary alarm
17. Review procedures for Threat Level Orange
High Risk - Threat Level Orange
1. Review and complete the required actions for Threat levels Green, Blue and Yellow
2. Keep personnel responsible for implementing anti-terrorist plans available at their duty section
3. Suspend non-essential commercial deliveries or develop alternate mail delivery and sorting facilities
4. Contact other key emergency organizations to confirm their emergency response plan procedures
5. Establish "Buffer Zones" around Key facilities by limiting parking, moving trash receptacles, and increasing periodic checks
6. Coordinate necessary security efforts with law enforcement
7. Take additional precautions at public events, including pre-event security checks.
8. Prepare to work alternating shifts and restricting access to essential personnel only. (Identified by photo ID and access rosters)
9. Have emergency supplies on hand (equipment, materials, food, etc), shelters ready, and review procedures
10. Restrict key personnel, when not actually on duty, to immediate response (30 minutes)
11. Prepare to execute contingency procedures, such as moving to an alternate site or dispersing the response units. In the alternative, are Task Force responses appropriate?
12. Limit facility access points to the absolute minimum
13. Prepare to limit or eliminate all non-essential functions
14. Prepare to close all non-essential facilities
15. Account for all vehicles adjacent to facilities and increase security limit or eliminate parking within 50 feet of key facilities
16. Prepare to limit all administrative visits
17. Require Positive ID for all visitors
18. Prepare to activate Emergency Operational Centers
19. Check computer and telephone systems and notify the people who will staff the EOC
20. Make contact with the law enforcement counterpart in your municipality to share information and review emergency response plans.
21. Be prepared to brief your local elected officials and the local news media, if requested.
22. Prepare for security precautions by the federal government, as well as state and local governments, to increase readiness to prevent terrorism and plan accordingly.
23. Encourage all citizens in your communities to review their own families’ emergency response procedures to ensure that all family members know what to do, where to go and what their own emergency contingency plans are.
24. Leave all exterior lighting on during periods of limited visibility.
25. Maintain constant observation of apparatus and equipment kept outside of the station.
26. Remain attentive for unexplained odors, powders, liquids, etc.
27. Coordinate for personnel protection when at the scene of an incident.
28. Arrange for aggressively restricted access to the proximate area of an incident.
29. Diversify operational procedures to avoid consistent patterns.
30. Encourage personnel to vary their routines and habits.
31. Review procedures for Threat Level Red
Severe Risk - Threat Level Red
1. Complete all required actions under Threat Levels Orange, Yellow, Blue, and Green.
2. Assign emergency response personnel and pre-position specially trained teams to monitor, redirect and, in concert with the law enforcement counterpart in your municipality, constrain transportation for control and use
3. Increase personnel to address critical emergency needs (Call back)
4. Limit or eliminate all non-essential operations. (Inspections, Public Education)
5. Control access to all facilities and require 100 % positive identification procedures.
6. Minimize or stop all administrative visits to your facilities
7. Ensure all employees are aware of the situation/threat and they remain alert and report any unauthorized or suspicious activity
8. Activate the appropriate Emergency Operation Centers
9. Priority will be given to saving lives and protecting property, in that order
10. Address critical emergency needs
11. Wildland firefighting techniques may have to be applied to rural and urban fire situations, particularly where water systems are inoperative. Aerial delivery of fire retardants or water for structural protection may be essential. In the case of multiple fires, firebreaks may be cleared and burning-out and backfiring techniques may be used.
12. Mobilize and pre-position specially trained teams or resources
13. Adhere to any travel restrictions announced by governmental authorities
14. Work with community leaders, emergency management, government agencies, community organizations, and utilities to meet the immediate needs of the community
15. Be prepared to work with a dispersed or smaller work force
16. Identification check on everyone (i.e. – Driver’s license retained at front office) and escort anyone entering a fire station or Department facility
17. Ensure mental health counselors are available for employees (and families)
18. Listen to radio/TV for current information/instructions
Preparing First Responder Families for Threat Levels
Common leadership theories sustain that subordinates will function with greater enthusiasm and dedication if they are confident about the emergency preparedness and safety of their families. Therefore, it is essential for leaders to promote preparedness activities among the families of their emergency responders for all contingencies and circumstances.
Given the change in the threat level recently, there have been countless interviews and articles regarding what citizens should do to help themselves and their families. Since most of the information applies to all families, the CIPIC (Critical Infrastructure Protection Information Center) will list those few actions that are particularly relevant to the loved ones of emergency first responders:
§ Develop an emergency method to communicate with family members.
§ Select an out-of-state relative to be the family's single point-of-contact.
§ Establish a predetermined meeting place away from your neighborhood.
§ Choose another family assembly point outside of the municipality.
§ Ensure family members know the address and phone number of meeting places.
§ Learn the emergency response plans of applicable schools, employers, etc.
§ Prepare to "shelter in place," which means to stay inside your home.
§ Assemble disaster supply and first aid kits for use at home or if evacuated.
§ Insert in kits: baby formula, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, bottled water, etc.
§ Maintain currency of life, property, health, and other insurance policies.
§ Determine what will be done with pets since shelters do not allow them.
§ Keep a positive attitude for the benefit of younger family members.
§ Call 9-1-1 to report what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling.
§ Listen to the directions of local authorities.
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Other sources of information for the emergency preparedness and safety of families follow. Some of the information can also be useful to Fire Departments—particularly in preparing for the needs of the firefighters.
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Terrorism—Preparing for the Unexpected
Suggestions from the American Red Cross. Principally for individuals but can be of assistance in developing your SOP. The suggestions are found at
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Ready, Set ... Prepare
The newly created Department of Homeland Security rolled out its "Ready" campaign this week to help Americans prepare for a possible terrorist attack. The department should be commended for streamlining its preparedness suggestions. The recommendations are presented in ways that educate, and discourage the clear-the-store-shelves panic evident in recent days.
A brief, 11-page brochure, "Preparing Makes Sense. Get Ready Now," calmly offers details on how to handle specific terrorist actions, be they chemical, biological, or nuclear. The campaign also rationally calls for families to develop a communication plan, and to assemble home and "away" supply kits.
The campaign's central feature is a website: www.ready.gov. Those who don't have an on-ramp to the Web, can call 1-800-BE-READY to order the brochure.
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Citizen's Protection Guide
The guide details opportunities for every citizen to become involved in safeguarding their neighbors and communities through FEMA's Citizen Corps initiative and Community Emergency Response Team training program. There are several sections that can be accessed at