USFA provides civil unrest guidance for fire, EMS responders

The guidance includes recommendations for preparing personnel, the station, apparatus and the community for times of social upheaval


By Laura French

EMMITSBURG, Md. — A guide from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) provides instructions for fire and EMS agencies to prepare for civil unrest. 

The guide offers specific recommendations for best practices when preparing personnel, the station, apparatus and the community for social upheaval during heightened community tension or at mass gatherings. 

Demonstrators start a fire during a protest over the killing of George Floyd, Sunday, May 31, 2020, near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Demonstrators start a fire during a protest over the killing of George Floyd, Sunday, May 31, 2020, near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

"The safety risk for fire and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel responding to these fluid incidents may be elevated," a guide overview states. 

In addition to guidance related to personnel, stations, vehicles and community relations, the USFA also offers an operations guide for coordinating response activities during civil unrest which recommends identifying hot, warm and cold zones and establishing fire and EMS response task forces for entry into hot and warm zones. 

The guide, most recently updated on June 5, 2020, also includes information on civil unrest operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, advising responders to maintain social distancing when possible and adhere to strict use of PPE. 

Additional resource links for mitigating violence against first responders and preparing for mass gatherings and mass casualty incidents are included at the end of the guide. 

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