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Joseph Duggan, Jr. 

March 2011 

Thesis Advisor: Lauren Wollman 

Second Reader: Richard Bergin 

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March 2011 Master’s thesis 

4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE The New York City Urban Search and Rescue Team 5. FUNDING NUMBERS 
(NY-TF1): A Case Study of Interagency Effectiveness _ 

6. AUTHOR(S) Joseph Duggan, Jr, _ 


Naval Postgraduate School 


11. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES The views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy 
or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. government. IRB Protocol number NPS.2010.0086-IR-EP7-A. 

13. ABSTRACT (maximum 200 words) 

Since September, 2001, the New York City (NYC) emergency services have striven to more closely align their 
component disciplines into one coordinated and collaborative effort. Despite improvements in emergency 
management, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) and New York City Police Department (NYPD) are still 
separate operational entities. An evolution in the terrorist threat challenges NYC emergency agencies and finds them 
unprepared for a complex terror event. Terrorist seek to divide first-responder efforts at such an attack. Evidence 
from the Mumbai attacks indicates an optimal response to a similar incident requires an unprecedented level of first- 
responder synergy. This thesis asserts that the synergistic elements in the New York City Urban Search and Rescue 
Task Force (NY-TF1) are applicable to the interagency challenges in the FDNY-NYPD response relationship. 

The methodology of this thesis is a single case study of NY-TF1 involving set of seven key leader 
interviews. Each discipline provided three levels of leadership confirmed the assertions of this thesis. The seventh 
interview, the senior civilian administrator for the New York City Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (NY-TF1), 
also supported this study’s findings. 

The conclusions of this study are drawn from commonalities in the data collected. The FDNY and NYPD 
can achieve an emergency services synergy adapting NY-TF1 organizational designs and systemic processes into the 
greater response relationship. 


NSN 7540-01-280-5500 Standard Form 298 (Rev. 2-89) 

Prescribed by ANSI Std. 239-18 




14. SUBJECT TERMS Synergy, collaboration. Complex Endeavors, Functional Complimentary, 
interdisciplinary, interagency, synchronization. New York City Fire Department 










Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited 

1. AGENCY USE ONLY (Leave blank) 




Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited 


Joseph Duggan, Jr. 

Battalion Chief, Fire Department, City of New York 
B.A., Fordham University, Bronx, New York, 1990 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the 
requirements for the degree of 


from the 

March 2011 

Author: Joseph Duggan, Jr. 

Approved by: Lauren F. Wollman, PhD 

Thesis Advisor 

Richard Bergin 
Second Reader 

Harold A. Trinkunas, PhD 

Chairman, Department of National Security Affairs 




Since September, 2001, the New York City (NYC) emergency services have striven to more 
closely align their component disciplines into one coordinated and collaborative effort. 
Despite improvements in emergency management, the New York City Fire Department 
(FDNY) and New York City Police Department (NYPD) are still separate operational 
entities. An evolution in the terrorist threat challenges NYC emergency agencies and finds 
them unprepared for a complex terror event. Terrorist seek to divide first-responder efforts at 
such an attack. Evidence from the Mumbai attacks indicates an optimal response to a similar 
incident requires an unprecedented level of first-responder synergy. This thesis asserts that 
the synergistic elements in the New York City Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (NY- 
TF1) are applicable to the interagency challenges in the FDNY-NYPD response relationship. 

The methodology of this thesis is a single case study of NY-TF1 involving set of 
seven key leader interviews. Each discipline provided three levels of leadership confirmed 
the assertions of this thesis. The seventh interview, the senior civilian administrator for the 
New York City Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (NY-TF1), also supported this study’s 

The conclusions of this study are drawn from commonalities in the data collected. 
The FDNY and NYPD can achieve an emergency services synergy adapting NY-TF1 
organizational designs and systemic processes into the greater response relationship. 












1. Military Suicide Operations: A Precursor to Suicide Terrorism 


2. Reemergence of Suicide Terrorism.14 




1. Command and Control (C2) Maturity.19 

2. Tactical Simplicity.20 

3. Promote Chaos and Uncertainty.21 





1. Complex Endeavors.29 

2. Synergies.30 

a. Division of Labor . 30 

b. Functional Complementarities . 31 

3. Power to the Edge Principles.31 


1. Origins.35 

2. Task Force Organizational Design.42 

3. Task Force Procedure.45 






1. Task Force Tactical Structure.56 

2. Unity of Command.59 

3. Component Role Definition.61 


1. Shared Command Responsibility.63 

2. Interpersonal Interaction.64 



3. Common Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).65 



1. Common Themes.69 

a. Defined Understanding of NY-TF1 Team and Individual 
Roles and Responsibilities Contributes to Operational Clarity 70 

b. Common SOP and Organizational Structure Eliminates 

Discipline Uncertainty Between Services and Provides a 
Foundation for Collaboration . 71 

c. Personnel and Discipline Interaction Is the Most Significant 

Factor in Fostering Task Force Synergy . 71 

d. Unified Command System and Shared Decision-Making 

Authority Provide the Conditions That Are Favorable for NY- 
TF1 Collaboration . 72 

2. Summary.73 






1. Promote FDNY-NYPD Operational Interaction.78 

a. “True” Interdisciplinary Drills for the Greater FDNY and 

NYPD . 79 

b. Expand the FDNY-NYPD Liaison Program . 79 

c. Interdepartmental Training Exchanges . 80 

2. Create a NYC First-Responder Interagency Advisory Panel.81 

3. Establish Formalized Unified Command for All Interagency 






1. Fred Lafamina, Deputy Chief (Acting)—FDNY (Respondent F-l)88 

2. Joseph R. Downey, Battalion Chief—FDNY (Respondent F-2) ....88 

3. Liam J. Flaherty, Captain—FDNY (Respondent F-3).89 

4. James Molloy, Chief—NYPD (Respondent P-1).89 

5. Robert Lukach, Deputy Inspector—NYPD (Respondent P-2).89 

6. Franco Barbiero, Lieutenant—NYPD (Respondent P-3).89 

7. John Grimm—OEM (Respondent 0-1).89 




1. Core Components of NY-TF1 Synergy.101 

2. Major Challenges to Interdepartmental Synergy.102 

3. Role Clarity and Shared Decision Rights Strongly Support Inter- 

Service Synergy.102 

4. Departmental Paradigms Prevent Service Collaboration.102 

5. FDNY-NYPD Synergy Areas of Interest.103 








Figure 1. C2 Approach Space (From Alberts & Hayes 2006).33 

Figure 2. Task Force Deployment Allocations (From NYC OEM Directive, 2006/003)59 

Figure 3. NYC First-responder C2 Approach Space (From Alberts & Nissen 2009).67 




Table 1. Synergy Elements.91 

Table 2. Synergy Challenges.92 

Table 3. Text Coding.93 

Table 4. NY-TF1 Synergy Matrix.104 






Allocation of Decision Rights 


A1 Qaeda terrorist network 


Command and Control 


Citywide Incident Management System 


Complex Endeavor 


U.S. Department of Homeland Security 


U.S. Department of Defense 


Distribution of Information 


NYPD Emergency Services Unit 


New York City Fire Department 


Federal Emergency Management Agency 


Incident Commander 


Incident Command System 


Law Enforcement 


National Incident Management System 


National Response Plan 


National Response Framework 


New York City 


New York City Police Department 


New York City Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 


NYC Office of Emergency Management 


Patterns of Interaction 


Subject Matter Expert 


FDNY Special Operations Command 


NYPD Special Operations Division 


Standard Operating Procedure 


Task Force Leader 


Urban Search and Rescue 





It has been a singular honor to be chosen for this program by the Center for Homeland 
Defense and Security/Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and offered the opportunity 
to attend by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). I am overwhelmed by the 
confidence Dr. William Pelfiry had in admitting me to the program and the support provided 
by the NYC Fire Commissioner, Salvatore J. Cassano. It has been a privilege to stand in the 
shadows of the course instructors and in the company of some of the most intelligent people I 
have ever met: my classmates. 

The challenges before NYC in aligning its emergency services into a collaborative 
response framework are significant but not insurmountable. The consequences of not 
achieving interdepartmental synergy between the FDNY and other emergency service 
agencies are severe, if not unthinkable. My participation in this program has provided me 
with tools to help shape this interagency effort. The Center of Homeland Defense and 
Security (CHDS) has accomplished its mission through my inclusion in this course and for 
this I am eternally grateful. 

My advisor, Lauren Wollman, PhD, is the unsung hero of my success. Her guidance 
and support are the foundation of my completing this thesis and graduating from CHDS. 
Please accept my sincerest gratitude for supporting my research and writing. 

Ultimately, there is no one more central to this achievement than my wife, Maryellen. 
Her sacrifice, moral support and encouragement to take on this academic endeavor can never 
be fully acknowledged. Each day, I am at a loss to understand the good fortune that came my 
way when I first met you. Thanks for knowing that I could complete this degree, even when 
I did not fully realize this myself. 




Inasmuch as modern terrorist objectives bring a form of warfare into the 
realm of the emergency services, it is imperative that those services be 
prepared to address and counter these events with training and 
preparations at a level, and on a scale, that have previously been thought 
of as matters confined to war and military leaders and decision makers. 

Robert T. Mahoney, Homeland Security Affairs Journal, 2010 


The global terror threat has evolved and presents new challenges to first 
responders in America’s larger municipalities. Recent events in Mumbai, India indicate 
that extremists are fostering initial chaos and confusion in terror operations for tactical 
advantage. Terrorists’ motives, operational intents and objectives are not clear to 
responders who first confront these attacks. This threat evolution only magnifies the 
equivocality and uncertainty inherent in the FDNY-NYPD response framework. 
Simultaneous fire-fighting, law enforcement and emergency medical activities are 
required in the same geographic space. These emergency service disciplines have 
differing operational priorities and approaches that are, at times, conflicting. This adds to 
the challenges for interagency collaboration and synergy. Compounding this is the lack 
of accurate situational awareness early at complex terror attacks. 

The ultimate goal of the Mumbai attacks was to maximize lethality in the conduct 
of a suicide operation. This is a new perspective in terrorist tactics. First responders 
(fire, police, and emergency medical services) were forced to operate in unison, similar to 
military task force configuration, to confront the terror threat. These complex responses 
necessitated a synergistic approach to ensure that first responders had an optimal 
response while minimizing the threat against them. 1 These attacks required: 

1 Complex endeavors (CE) are explored later in this paper as incidents with specific traits that require 
different response approaches as opposed to routine incidents. 


1. Closer command structures and operational procedures. Unified 
command and control along with common operating protocols being the 
pillars of first responder synergy. 

2. Better prepared and trained leaders at interagency operations. Leadership 
cognizant of the force-multiplying effect of first responder synergies of 

3. More easily understood and employed interagency protocols. Providing 
the free flow of information without which first responder synergy could 
not be realized. 

These issues are problematic in New York City (NYC) because of a flawed 
incident management approach to emergency operations management. The synergy 
necessary to meet such a complex endeavor is not available to NYC first responders. 
Major stumbling blocks to collaboration (a joint response framework) and coordination (a 
synchronized response framework) between the FDNY and NYPD at interagency 
operations are both internal and external: the lack of a collective understanding of 
synergy and the absence of mechanisms to promote first responder collaboration 
throughout the emergency service community in NYC. Each agency, having distinct and 
varied influences on its organizational understanding of first responder interagency 
coordination and collaboration, has a different understanding of the collective concepts. 
In addition, the fire service and law enforcement definitions of synergy are not 
analogous. The FDNY perspective consists of an operational command and control 
dynamic while the NYPD perspective of interagency collaboration is more 
administrative. Many police incidents are investigative in nature and are not command 
intensive in terms of supervision, as in the case with fire service operations. This 
contributes to a disconnection between the FDNY and NYPD collective definition. This 
disconnect fosters uncertainty and equivocality in the NYC first-responder environment. 

An example of a best-practice model that seems to transcend the NYC “Battle-of- 
the-Badges” is the combined FDNY-NYPD Urban Search and Rescue (USR) team, NY- 
TF1. Organized in the early 1990s to support the FEMA effort to respond to major 
earthquakes, this group of firefighters and police officers has deployed to hurricanes, 
terrorist bombings, major structural collapses and, most recently, to the earthquake in 

Haiti where the team successfully rescued six trapped people. Unique among the 28 


national USR teams, NY-TF1 is composed of 50 percent firefighters and 50 percent law 
enforcement personnel. All members of the team are specially trained individuals from 
each department and follow accepted national response frameworks for rescue operations 
at structural collapse. 

The NY-TF1 model offers insight into how the FDNY and NYPD can cooperate 
at emergency operations on deployments outside of NYC. The team is populated with 
many of the same personnel from the respective Special Operations Commands that also 
routinely respond to major emergencies within the city. Interestingly, many of the same 
members of NY-TF1 who perform well on team activations also experience synergy 
challenges between the two agencies when responding in NYC. The disconnect between 
the synergy of NY-TF1 operations and the current friction between the FDNY and 
NYPD suggests that there are organizational designs, structures and processes present in 
the NY-TF1 model that are not evident in the greater FDNY-NYPD emergency responder 

The goal of this research project is to identify the operational level components of 
the NY-TF1 team. From these NY-TF1 synergy fostering components, recommendations 
are made that enhance the greater FDNY-NYPD operational relationship. This thesis has 
confirmed that these enhancements can effectively prepare NYC for the next complex 
endeavor terror event. 


What can we learn from NYTF-1, and how might it be utilized as the foundation 
for a nation-wide model? 


1. Are there organizational/operational level designs or systemic processes 
found in the NYC Urban Search and Rescue model (NY-TF1) that 
contribute to a more coordinated and collaborative relationship between 
FDNY and NYPD personnel? 


2. How are these NY-TF1 structures/processes applicable to creating 
interagency synergies at a complex endeavor terror event similar to the 
Mumbai attacks? 

An overview of the NYC synergy problem reveals the following issues with the 
analysis of the FDNY-NYPD relationship as related to interagency synergy: 

• Since 9/11, the NYC Battle of the Badges problem has been significantly 
documented. Study on the solution side of this problem is necessary. 

• Social science theory has not been leveraged to solve the FDNY-NYPD 
synergy problem. 

• There is a disconnection between the law enforcement (LE) investigative 
and the fire service consequence management perspectives that current 
literature does not address. 

• Literature surrounding terrorist dynamic evolution has a dominant LE 
focus to the detriment of interagency considerations. 

• Academic writing on the synergy of first responders produces more 
collaborative solutions than agency policies and procedures. 

• There is a wealth of material from the military regarding interagency 
operations. This resource provides synergy solutions that are accepted 
across the emergency responder community but is not being leveraged by 
NYC emergency agencies. 

This thesis identifies collaborative commonalities that can be incorporated into 
both the FDNY and NYPD responses to everyday multi-agency operations. Applying the 
appreciative inquiry (AI) method into an analysis of the NYC USR team, this thesis has 
found synergistic constructs already in use by both the FDNY and NYPD. 


Research for this thesis utilized appreciative inquiry in a single case study of the 
NY-TF1 model supported by a set of seven interviews with key task force leaders. The 
assertion is that the joint FDNY-NYPD Urban Search and Rescue team exhibits the 
synergistic organizational designs and systemic processes not found in the larger 
interagency relationship which are critical for response to a complex endeavor terror 
event in NYC. 


The NY-TF1 model is relevant to study for two reasons: first, it isolates the team 
members from each department’s cultural influences and second, the model limits the 
competition frequently experienced between the two emergency disciplines. As 
previously stated, the unique composition of the NYC USR team allows limited analogy 
to the other 27 regional USR teams. While other USR teams have law enforcement 
representation, NY-TF1 alone has a strictly equal percentage of fire service and law 
enforcement personnel on each deployment. This limits social and organizational 
variables that might influence analysis of the team. Additionally, command of the team 
is shared. On an alternating basis, the leadership of the team is passed from the lead 
FDNY officer to the lead NYPD officer, and back again for each deployment. This 
rotating command structure is also a novelty found among the 28 regional USR teams. 
The unique organization and command responsibility for the team are prime factors in 
choosing this single case study. 

Aside from its organization and command structure, the operational foundation of 
the team makes the NY-TF1 model a strong choice for study. The team utilizes an 
independent standard operating procedure (SOP), the Federal Emergency Management 
Agency’s National Urban Search and Rescue Response System. While each department 
has responsibility for search/rescue at collapsed structures and operates according to 
different SOPs within NYC, these independent procedures are not utilized during team 
deployments. This reduces the variables of competing tactical competency and technical 
proficiency between the separate FDNY and NYPD emergency operations procedures. 
This independent SOP serves to create an even field on which the interagency dynamic 
can be observed and studied. 

The dearth of writing on the NYC USR model provides little opportunity to 
measure the effectiveness of the synergy on the NY-TF1 team. Consequently, this 
research project relied on interviews to gather qualitative data on NY-TF1. The 
individuals selected are key task force leaders who ideally have made at least one active 
deployment of the team to a real-world incident or are in strategic planning leadership 
roles in the respective departments. In order to objectively evaluate NY-TF1, each level 


of command included one fire service perspective and one law enforcement perspective. 
An objective, third-party interview is included to verify the opinions given by the 
emergency service participants. The NY-TF1 Program Director, the civilian Office of 
Emergency Management (OEM) administrator for the task force is included in the 
interview pool. The categories for the interviews are: 

• Tactical - Leaders who have been responsible for direct supervision 
of independent rescue teams. This paradigm provides a first-hand 
perspective of interagency collaborative effort and achievement without 
the filter of higher level opinion. Specifically, how the members of each 
service interact with one another. Individuals selected are in the rank of 
Fire Captain and Police Lieutenant (equivalent civil service supervisory 

• Operational - Leaders who have been the sole team commander for an 
active deployment to a real world incident. This paradigm provides a 
command level perspective regarding how independent search and rescue 
teams perform from both a collaborative view but also a comparative 
view. Specifically, how teams are assessed as units and how those 
independent units perfonn in tenns of each other. Individuals selected are 
in the rank of Fire Battalion Chief and Police Captain (equivalent civil 
service supervisory grades). 

• Staff - Leaders who have been directly responsible for the USR program 
for each department. This paradigm provides the organizational 
perspective of overall success for NY-TF1, but also the agency specific 
assessment of the program. Specifically, an objective analysis is made by 
individuals who are not influenced by intra-team politics, conflicts or bias. 
Individuals selected are in the rank of Fire Deputy Chief and Police Chief 
(civil service appointed levels only). 

• Administrative -A civilian program manager (outside the FDNY or 
NYPD) that supervises many of the interagency directives, personnel 
issues and support requirements for the sustainment of task force training 
and operation. This paradigm provides an unbiased assessment of task 
force collaborative nature from an outside agency. The individual selected 
is the senior civilian administrator for the NY-TF1 program from the NYC 
Office of Emergency Management (nonuniformed service title). 

Seven interviews were conducted for this case study; two interviews for each 

level of command, resulting in a total of three fire service and three law enforcement 

interviews. The seventh interview was the senior civilian administrator for the NY-TF1 

program. Seven scripted questions were posed for each study participant. Dependent on 


the quality of the data gathered from each interview, unscripted ancillary questions were 
asked to expand upon information collected from individual participants. These 
unscripted questions were not asked of other participants and were largely used to 
amplify answers that were previously given. 

From the collected transcripts of all the interviews, a qualitative data analysis was 
conducted. From this analysis, common themes were identified through the use of text 
coding. This project primarily coded for the below themes: 

• Organization designs that enhances collaboration. 

• Systemic processes that influence synergy. 

• Information flow and processing that promotes effective situational 

• Synergy barriers and challenges that prevent synergy. 

Identifying these common themes allowed this thesis to: (1) qualitatively assess 
the degree of synergy between the FDNY and NYPD elements on the task force, (2) 
identify the organizational designs and systemic processes supporting this collaborative 
dynamic, and (3) recommend applicable solutions for the greater emergency responder 
challenges posed by a complex endeavor terrorist event. The NY-TF1 interviews were a 
rich source of the qualitative data that support this thesis. Additionally, the argument of 
this thesis was strengthened by the commonality of themes identified by both fire and law 
enforcement disciplines. 

Independent interviews encouraged a free-flow of ideas and information from the 
respondents in order to allow for common themes to emerge and limit influence on the 
respondents’ answers on one another. That being said, there were seven formal questions 
used to start and direct each interview: 

• How does the collaborative nature of the NY-TF1 team compare with the 
general FDNY and NYPD relationship? 

• What are the barriers to collaboration/synergy found in the greater FDNY- 
NYPD relationship that are not found in the NY-TF1 model? 

• What barriers to collaboration/synergy does NY-TF1 overcome? 


• Describe examples of synergy found on the NY-TF1 team during 

• What elements/factors contribute to the collaborative success of the NY- 
TF1 model? 

• Are the collaborative dynamics found in the NY-TF1 model applicable to 
a complex endeavor event like the Mumbai terror attack? 

• Is the synergy of the NY-TF1 team unique or can it be replicated in the 
greater FDNY-NYPD dynamic? 

These questions were purely a starting point and were refined and expanded upon 
as necessary during the interview process. 

The goal is to develop these themes into policy recommendations for the New 
York City Fire Department at the strategic level. It is hoped that a better understanding 
of the fundamental NY-TF1 collaborative elements developed through an appreciative 
inquiry of the task force will provide a vision for future interagency operations between 
NYC’s firefighters and police officers. These themes have applicability across the nation 
for comparable fire-police relationships. 


This thesis is structured to answer the question: how can the FDNY-NYPD 
response relationship be improved to meet the emerging terrorist threats against NYC? 
After posing this problem in Chapter I, this paper examines this threat more closely in 
Chapter II, which covers the emerging terrorist evolution. This chapter explains how 
terrorist tactical and strategic innovation has significantly changed how emergency 
services must approach future attempted attacks. Following this, an in-depth literature 
review in Chapter III explores social science theory that this thesis uses in examining the 
current terror threat and assesses the NYC Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. 
Chapter III also discusses the literature and history of the Federal Urban Search and 
Rescue initiative that spawned the NYC version. This provides a foundation for 
supporting Chapter IV, which discusses the assertion that the NYC USR model contains 
organizational designs and operational processes that can improve the NYC first- 


responder dynamic relationship. This paper concludes with Chapter V’s 
recommendations for applying the FDNY-NYPD synergy solutions found in the NY-TF1 
model, Chapter IV. 

Supporting the five chapters of this thesis are two appendices that cover the 
research involved in this project. Appendix A is an explanation of how the methodology 
was executed. Each research participant is identified and his relationship to this study is 
discussed. This allows the reader to understand the validity of the participant’s opinion 
and perspective. Also in Appendix A is the complete transcript for the qualitative data 
collected from those participants along with the thematic coding of each answer. 
Appendix B is where the data collected in Appendix A is analyzed. Here, a critical 
examination of the data is conducted and the strength of the conclusions from this 
analysis is explained. 

The organization of this thesis clearly establishes the assertion that the NYC first- 
responder community can learn from the NY-TF1 model. The argument of this paper is 
supported by an attempt to minimize organizational bias and discipline influences. The 
methodology laid out in Chapter I that uses social science theory from Chapter III and is 
supported by the appendices serve to prove this paper’s core assertion: the NYC Urban 
Search and Rescue Task Force is a template for preparing for the next complex terror 
event in New York City. 





The reemergence in the early 1980s of terrorism motivated by a religious 
imperative set in motion profound changes in the nature, motivation, and 
capabilities of terrorists that are still unfolding. 

Professor Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism (2005) 

The impetus for this research has been an evolution in the use of suicide tactics by 
radical Islamic extremist. Today, “America is at war.. .the frontline duties at home in this 
war of terrorism have become the responsibility of those who have not been tasked with 
that previously: America’s emergency services” (Mahoney 2010, p. 1). This emerging 
terror threat needs to be understood by all disciplines of emergency first response. An 
understanding of this contemporary evolution must begin by developing the historical 
context behind the concept of suicide operations, in both war and terrorism, and the 
fundamentals that drive them. From the radical Islamic perspective, there is no 
distinction between a state of anned conflict between nations and their jihad against 
Western involvement in the Middle East. According to the Foreign Policy Research 
Institute, “the objectives of such terrorist attacks on the U.S. are to create social 
disruption and chaos; to use fear and extensive disorganization to precipitate the collapse 
of the United States’ ability to maintain both a presence in the Middle East and its 
domestic economy” (Gale, Husick, & Rabinow 2009). An examination of how these 
terror operations have been conducted is required to fully understand how suicide terror 
attacks have changed in the first part of the twenty-first century. 

A basic understanding of suicide terror operations is the foundation that supports 
this paper’s premise, that the Mumbai attacks signal a metamorphosis in terror strategy. 
Radical extremism has expanded the use of suicide tactics from operations that were once 
isolated in both incidence and venue. Terror events previously conducted by individuals 
or small groups to advance a message or achieve a specific objective (prisoner release, 
ransom, etc.) now have evolved into coordinated and controlled operations. While prior 
terror incidents may have demonstrated tactical insight and planning, today’s terror 


attacks are displaying a level of strategic operational maturity not previously witnessed. 
Terror incidents for the first time are displaying effective command and control (C2) 
capability during operations. And this operational control of independently functioning 
elements is a shift in terrorist tactics. 

Combined with this tactical evolution is the fundamental change in strategy that 
radical Islam has adopted. The Mumbai attacks reinforced evidence that the ultimate 
objective of these attacks is to maximize their lethality and inspire fear/uncertainty. 
There is no other immediate goal besides increasing the body-count and the number of 
wounded. Terrorist are not espousing demands for an exchange of detainees or dictating 
the restoration of territory. Extremist groups today see nothing less than a cultural 
struggle, a jihad between Muslims and non-Muslims. That struggle is to the death. This 
chapter explores this perspective, how it has altered our understanding of terror 
operations and how those attacks have been and will be conducted. 

Given that this emerging threat is possible, what makes it a probable occurrence 
in the U.S.? Establishing evidence that supports the likelihood of a Mumbai-style event 
is necessary to justify the premise of this paper: a similar attack needs to be expected in 
order to properly develop an emergency response strategy. Extrapolating this assertion 
from the evolution of suicide operations completes the foundation of this study. 

Finally, what are the strategic and tactical objectives for this evolution in suicide 
terror operations? These fundamental elements need to be understood in order to design 
an appropriate strategy for first-responders. This thesis asserts that a synergy of 
emergency services is necessary to meet the coming threat. How the Mumbai attacks 
achieved their results must be understood so as to develop the synergies that this paper 
argues are required. An examination of the Mumbai events, attackers’ intent and 
accomplishments must be made in detail to identify the critical tactical and strategic 
elements where the terrorists were most successful. These elements will direct what 
synergistic best-practices are required to oppose a similar attack in a municipal U.S. 
setting, specifically NYC. 



1. Military Suicide Operations: A Precursor to Suicide Terrorism 

The tactical use of suicide operations in both open, armed conflict between 
nations or in acts of terror has seen a marked increase in the twentieth century. The 
Japanese resorted to squadrons of Kamikazee attacks when there was no hope of tactical, 
conventional military success. These maneuvers were conducted in last resort as 
surrender was not an acceptable option for the majority of Japanese military personnel. 
Individual incidents of suicide attacks on military command and control centers during a 
tactical engagement gave way to the strategic use of suicide operations. The direct 
objective of these attacks once tactical; to neutralize military units, changed to a strategic 
objective. The strategic goal was to inflict enough punishment on U.S. forces in casualty 
levels so as to make continued conflict unpalatable to the American public. The targeting 
of popular public opinion and the attempt to affect change in U.S. national defense 
strategy is a central tenet of terror operations. World War II suicide operations 
foreshadowed this future strategic shift in terrorism. 

While this type of operation was hard for Western military planners and the 
general U.S. population to understand, it did contain some basic principles that, from the 
Japanese perspective, were logical. First, there was little alternative to defeat. The 
looming invasion of the Japanese mainland was clearly evident, but surrender was not an 
option. Second, the targets of all Japanese suicide attacks were strictly military, as 
opposed to the Allied air-campaign against Japanese civilian centers. And lastly, from the 
Japanese perspective, they were willing and able to accept higher casualty rates of 
military as well as civilian losses. The American public was viewed as less willing to 
suffer the expected losses in a full-scale invasion of Japan. This opinion provided what 
the Japanese needed most, a chance, however infinitesimal, of a negotiated peace, if not 
victory. These three factors, no alternative, strategic objectives or opportunity for an 
acceptable outcome, are all specific to the military use of suicide operations. Although 


ultimately unsuccessful, these suicide tactics did have deep impact on the American 
public. Even military planners had pause when they were considering the invasion of the 
Japanese main islands. This fact has not been lost on the extremist groups that are 
utilizing suicide as a tactic in recent decades. 

2. Reemergence of Suicide Terrorism 

The threat of suicide operations during terrorist events reappeared in the last two 
decades of the twentieth century. Although its use was infrequent, suicide attacks did 
emerge in the 1970s as a tactic that extremists could use to generate media and political 
attention (Chaulk & Hoffman, 2005, p. xiii). Similar to the military use of suicide tactics 
during World War II, the general public and political leaders in Western societies saw 
this evolution in terror tactics with revulsion and misunderstanding. From the West’s 
perspective, the use of suicide was not understandable to achieve any goal of a terror 
organization. But from the radicalized-extremist psyche, suicide operations were as 
logical a conclusion as the Japanese made. Just as the Japanese in the Second World War 
envisioned themselves as a divine wind, today’s Islamic extremists see themselves as 
divinely inspired. Terror organizations such as al-Qaeda view themselves as warriors of 
God. And the jihad against infidels is viewed as a war against nonbelievers and Satan 
who are an affront to Allah and a threat to the Muslim world. The resort to terror 
operations and the use of suicide tactics emerged in the 1980s as a logical tactic from the 
radical fundamental Islamist perspective. 

As Western influence and involvement in the Middle East expanded, there was 
also an awakening of religion in the Arab societies in the region. After years of Islamic 
radicalization of influential clerics, the Iranian revolution inspired outbreaks of religious 
movements aimed to return the Islamic world to its former greatness. The Iranians 
overthrew a corrupt, authoritarian regime that had been backed by the United States. 
Religious movements, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, had been repressed by 
authoritarian governments supported by the West. Western governments, including the 
U.S., had been intent on ensuring an adequate supply of cheap oil and had increasingly 


brought Western culture and influence to the Middle East. In the case of Iranian 
revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini, radical clerics preached that Western influence 
was the cause of all evil in the Arab world. Furthermore, these religious revolutionaries 
preached that Islam required its spread throughout the region and the world. Terrorism 
experts point to public statements by leading Islamic fundamentalist leaders that urge 
Muslims to “export our Revolution throughout the world,” which Ayatollah Khomeini 
declared on the occasion of the Iranian New Year in March 1980 (Hoffman 2006, p. 89). 
These radicalized religious leaders saw Western involvement in their society as a threat 
to their teachings and an attempt by non-Muslims to lure young Arabs away from Islam. 
Since armed conflict with the vastly superior militaries of the West was not a viable 
option, terrorism in this light can be viewed as a “logical” option; similar to the Japanese 
determination made in WWII. 

In the last 20 years of the twentieth century, Islamic terrorist events involved 

typical terrorist tactics: kidnappings, aircraft hijackings, bombings and murders. The 

employment of suicide operations was a relatively rare and isolated occurrence. In fact, 

of the suicide attacks committed by terrorists from 1968 to 2005, 78 percent happened 

between 2001 and 2005 (Hoffman, 2006, p. 131). During the early period of suicide 

attacks, they were confined to Lebanon and Kuwait. But slowly, the use of suicide would 

not be restricted to those two countries. The adoption and growth of suicide tactics by 

terrorist organization was driven by two factors. First, terrorist groups needed to 

communicate the intensity and belief in their message. In their view, the sacrifice of an 

individual for the cause of God demonstrated the gravity of their message and their 

devotion to the cause. Second, their need to diseminate their message increasingly drove 

greater use of suicide tactics. By the late 1980s, news reports of kidnappings and murder 

attempts had become commonplace for the Middle East, despite the emergence of 24 

hour news organizations. Terror groups began to see that suicide events tended to garner 

greater attention from news agencies. And since terror events are ultimately about 

communicating a message, suicide operations began to become a more common 

occurrence. Terrorists were also attracted to suicide operations because of their tactical 

advantage over conventional attacks. They were usually more effective in tenns of 


lethality. Suicide attacks are less expensive and require less tactical support. And, they 
had a greater liklihood for success; there is no escape plan that needs to be considered. 
Simply put, these attacks were operationally easier to execute. 

However, in a similar fashion to the desensitization of general terror attacks, 
suicide events in the Middle East and other areas became less news-worthy as their 
incidence increased in the late 1990s. This trend reinforced the perception that to the 
West, especially in America, terrorism was something that happened “over there.” Again, 
this was a fact not lost on terror planners in the Middle East. 



At the end of the twentieth century, terrorism became an accepted fact of life for 
those nations that comprise the Arab states and Israel. The adoption of suicide tactics had 
not significantly changed the proposition that disaffected terror groups would continue to 
employ greater levels of violence to advance their cause. While there were occasionally 
events that affected Western/American interests, in the U.S. public opinion, suicide 
attacks only happened in the Middle East. 

This all changed with the rise of Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda (AQ) terror 
organization. Years of violence that occurred predominantly on Arab soil had not 
succeeded in removing Western presence and influence in the Muslim world. 
Additionally, there was a permanent presence of Western military forces (primarily U.S.) 
still in the Persian Gulf. This led to the fundamentalist determination that violence must 
be brought to American soil. Bin Laden made this strategic shift in the late 1990s and 
decided to employ suicide operations to do it. AQ made a command decision that in 
addition to tactical operations like the suicide attack on the USS Cole, strategic 
operations must be conducted in America. The destruction of U.S. military resources in 
the Middle East was not seen by AQ leaders as advancing their purpose: withdrawal of 
all Western involvement in the region. The American public was not significantly drawn 
into the AQ message. Bin Laden realized that while Americans were angered by the 


bombing of the USS Cole, most viewed the attack as part of the price the U.S. had to pay 
for a presence in the Persian Gulf. The American public, and most in government, were 
not engaged in the conflict in the Middle East. And as bin Laden understood the 
situation, until America was significantly impacted and intimidated, the U.S. would 
remain in the region. This shift in AQ’s command emphasis from the Middle East to a 
focus on attacks in America took suicide operations from a tactic used in individual 
events to a strategy that AQ hoped would expel the West from the Arab world. At the 
same time, depending on the success of such an operation, there was hope that substantial 
destruction on American soil from suicide “martyrs” would rally the Arab world to his 

This evolution of terrorism with the increased utilization of suicide tactics is a 
significant turn in its metamorphosis as terrorism experts have identified, “terrorism 
today is being transfonned from a mode of conflict that was hitherto characterized by 
mostly limited and symbolic objectives to one that now manifests itself in a far more 
direct and lethal manner” (Chaulk & Hoffman 2005, p. 5). Whereas the targets of 
terrorism were once limited to military, governmental or economic objectives, the 
expansion of suicide attacks to include civilians not directly linked to a specific target 
changed the understanding of terrorism. AQ now classified all nonbelievers as infidels 
and acceptable for direct attack. Because of his detennination that the American public 
was weak and had no collective stomach for loss of life, bin Laden concluded that a 
direct strike at a U.S. city causing large loss of life and destruction would result in an 
American withdrawal from the Persian Gulf Region. This analysis was derived from bin 
Laden’s observation of American forces withdrawing from Lebanon in 1983 and Somalia 
in 2000 after suffering relatively few losses of soldiers and marines . A suicide attack 
would have the best chance for success and have the most devastating results in numbers 
of casualties. 

The execution of the September 11, 2001 suicide terror attacks were 
unprecidented in tenns of ambition, coordination, scale and effect. “In short, al-Qaeda 
has expanded and redefined the practice of suicide terrorism from both a tactical and 


strategic perspective” (Chaulk & Hoffman 2005, p. 75). Succeeding beyond their wildest 
expectations in terms of death and destruction inflicted, AQ brought the use of suicide 
operations to a new strategic level. As with traditional martyrdom operations, the target 
of the 9/11 operation was greater than those directly affected by the direct detruction of 
the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The American public psyche was the actual 
intended target of the attacks. In the case of the 9/11 attacks, AQ hoped that the scale and 
extent of the operation would achieve what any series of lesser attacks could not, the 
rejectcion of interest in the Middle East by the U.S. population. This with the added 
benefit of raising bin Laden’s and AQ’s stature in the Islamic world. 

AQ introduced into suicide martyrdom operations a command and control (C2) 
element that had not been present before. Independently conducted and sychronized 
suicide operations occurring virtually simultaneously required planning and logistical 
support that had been previously unheard of in terrorism. This operational maturity 
inherent in the 2001 attacks signaled an new era in the evolution of suicide terrorism. 


Just as AQ transformed the use of suicide tactics into a strategic plan to create 
support in the Muslim world and instill fear that would push the West out of the Middle 
East, Islamic extremists have further transformed suicide terrorism. Martyrdom 
operations have evolved from isolated acts of desperation to coordinated, large-scale 
operations. In India, the Mumbai attackers added an operational maturity not scene in 
past terror events. The separate suicide teams that attacked Mumbai in November 2008 
demonstrated small unit assault tactics that directly received coordinating instructions 
from a command element located in Pakistan. The NYPD Commissioner Raymond 
Kelly gave this evaluation of the event in his 2009 U.S. Senate testimony: of the most important aspects of this attack was the shift in tactics 
from suicide bombs to a commando-style military assault with small teams 
of highly trained, heavily armed operatives launching simultaneous, 
sustained attacks. 


U.S. Senate Testimony, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & 

Governmental Affairs. “Lessons from the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks” 

Washington, D.C. January 8, 2009 

Commissioner Kelly observed that this “shift in tactics” included an outside 
command influence making this attack a significant evolution in suicide operations. The 
sophistication of the coordination that directed these teams gave this attack a substantial 
advantage according to Kelly; “the ability of terrorist handlers to direct operations from 
outside the attack zone using cell phones and other portable communications devices. 
With this comes a formidable capacity to adjust tactics while attacks are underway” 
(Kelly, 2009, p. 2). This formidable capacity of the attackers lies in their C2 ability to 
direct an operation in real time. The 24-hour news coverage of the Mumbai attacks 
provided the attacker handlers with an added ability to track their progress. In addition to 
information that the attackers themselves were transmitting to their controllers, the 
international news media provided the terrorist command element in Pakistan with 
constant updates concerning positioning of terrorist teams, as well as the Indian response. 

The 2008 Mumbai attacks have three common themes that define a new 
transformation in radical Islamic terror operations. These significant characteristics are 
critical to the strategic success of similar terror events. 

1. Command and Control (C2) Maturity 

This command and control ability is what differentiates the Mumbai attacks from 
earlier suicide terrorist operations. Terrorist events that employed similar small unit 
tactics, like the 1972 Munich Olympic Hostage siege, did not possess the operational 
maturity witnessed in 2008 Mumbai. Using easily accessible satellite and cellular phone 
technology and monitoring any of the readily available electronic news media platforms, 
either television or through the internet, provided an almost unlimited ability to maximize 
the terrorist opportunity to kill. Given the explosion of Information Technology, this is a 
significant evolution and advantage for terrorist groups. 


2 . 

Tactical Simplicity 

The genius displayed in the planning, coordination and command of the Mumbai 
suicide attacks is only magnified by the simplicity in its design. The sophistication of the 
C2 elements behind the attack was coupled with what has been termed “the Art of the 
Possible” (Sawyer, 2010). Just as the 9/11 attackers utilized common, everyday items 
(box cutters, razor blades) that avoided detection and gain control of multiple aircraft, the 
Mumbai terrorists employed easily obtained small arms and explosives that required 
limited training. With no advanced instruction in weapons, demolition or assault tactics, 
the 10 attackers managed to kill or injure over 500 people and retain control over a city 
and the mass media for over 60 hours (Indian Ministry of External Affairs, 2009). 

The perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, members of the radical Islamic militant 
group Lashkar-e-Taiba, entered into the city by way of a fishing trawler that they had 
hijacked, the M.V. Kuber. After killing the captain and crew of this boat, the terrorists 
used a hand-held global positioning system (GPS) device to navigate to a preprogrammed 
point on the Mumbai shore. From this vessel, the attackers used a small rubber dingy to 
land with their weapons and explosives undetected. Each member of the assault team 
carried an assault rifle (Chinese AK-56 or Russian AK-47), a 9mm pistol and a duffle 
bag. The contents of these bags were identical; each had 300 to 400 rounds of 
ammunition in as many as 12 magazines, a half dozen hand grenades and an improvised 
explosive device (IED) that consisted of approximately eight kilograms of RDX 
explosive (Indian Ministry of External Affairs 2009, pp. 9-11). These weapons were 
inexpensive and easy to obtain. They required only basic instruction with which to 
become proficient and were simple to transport by individual members. 

The objectives that the attackers targeted were soft targets, with relatively weak or 
nonexistant security measures: the CST Central Railway Station, the Leopold Cafe and 
Bar, the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Oberoi-Trident Hotel and the Nariman (Chabad) House. 
All these locations were well known to be frequented by Westerners and/or Jewish 
occupants. They had been previously identified by handlers in Pakistan and were 
specifically chosen for this reason. On these sites, the attackers used a sieze-and-hold 


tactic. Before they were killed or captured (one attacker was taken alive), the terrorists 
were able to murder 165 innocent civilians, military commandoes and first responders, 
with an additional 304 wounded (Indian Ministry of External Affairs, 2009). 

During the attack, the individuals demonstrated a knowledge of basic small unit 
procedures that indicated they had trained together significantly prior to the attacks. 
They used hand signals in crowds to communicate and moved in tactical formation when 
proceeding from position to position. Additionally, they used the cell phones of their 
victims to transmit and receive information while the attacks took place. The NYPD 
Commissioner referenced this tactical ability in his Senate testimony stating: 

They were experienced in working together as a unit. And they were sufficiently 
disciplined to continue their attack over many hours. This had the effect of increasing the 
public’s fear and keeping the incident in the news cycle for a longer period of time 
(Kelly, 2009, p. 2). 

At all the targets after the CST Railway Station, hostages were taken to delay an 
immediate assault of law enforcement. In the Taj Mahal and Oberoi-Trident Hotels, 
terrorists planted explosives and constructed barricades to impede eventual counter 
attacks. Attackers also set fires in the Taj Mahal Hotel on the first, fifth and sixth floors 
to increase confusion and chaos while adding to the challenge of retaking the hotel. 

The use of relatively simple weapons and tactics coupled with a mature C2 
element was the formula that led to over 500 casualties and almost three days of terror on 
Mumbai’s streets. This combination of suicide tactics and small unit procedures has 
fundamentally altered our understanding of future terrorist events. The Mumbai attacks 
presented new challenges for emergency responders that have not been faced before. 

3. Promote Chaos and Uncertainty 

Landing on shore unnoticed, the assault team split into five pairs and proceeded to 

their objectives by taxi. To increase the “fog of war” and to confuse the local and 

government responses to their attacks, IEDs were planted in two of these taxis and 

exploded shortly after the violence began. This gave the impression to authorities that 


there were more assault elements than were actually present. Also, as the teams 
approached their targets, each pair fired randomly, killing people in the streets. This hit- 
and run tactic confused officials initially as to the ultimate targets that were under attack. 
The terrorists appeared to be moving randomly and have more objectives than what were 
actually planned. 

The confusion and chaos that followed the initial terrorist movements served to 
conceal their ultimate objectives, to disrupt the first-response efforts to defeat the attack 
and prolong the duration of the event. Mumbai emergency response commanders had no 
tactical C2 ability to meet the interagency challenges of such a tactically mature incident. 
Uncertainty of attacker intention and objetives, coupled with the confusion inherent in 
Mumbai’s disjointed response enabled the attackers to control the event for 60 continuous 
hours (Indian Ministry of External Affairs, 2009). 


The initial reactions of the city’s emergency services to the Mumbai attacks were 
hampered by a number of factors that culminated in an inefficient and ineffective 
response. Law enforcement did not engage the attackers for fear of harming the hostages. 
Furthermore, police were out-gunned. They attackers had relatively modern fire arms 
(AK-56 and AK-47) when compared to the bolt-action rifles and hand-guns carried by 
average Mumbai police. In addition, the Mumbai police were not trained to confront a 
coordinated, multi-location operation. The local emergency services had no capacity to 
conduct simultaneous hostage negotiation, explosive ordinance disposal, and close- 
quarters combat with added dimension of emergency medical triage and treatment at 
multiple scenes. The Taj-Mahal Hotel presented the additional challenge of concurrent 
fire suppression activities. All the interdisciplinary missions had to be conducted nearly 
simultaneously in the same operational space. These attacks overwhelmed the Mumbai 
emergency services and created a delay in response, exactly what the attackers had 
planned for. The NYPD Commissioner’s assessment succinctly summarized the Mumbai 


In an active shooter incident such as we saw in Mumbai, by far the 
greatest number of casualties occur in the first minutes of the attack. Part 
of the reason the members of Lashkar-e-Taiba were able to inflict severe 
casualties was that, for the most part, the local police did not engage them. 

Their weapons were not sufficiently powerful and they were not trained 
for that type of conflict. It took more than 12 hours for Indian commandos 
to arrive. 

U.S. Senate Testimony, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & 
Governmental Affairs, “Lessons from the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks.” 
Washington, D.C., January 8, 2009 

Commissioner Kelly’s remarks addressed the law enforcement nature of the 
Mumbai response, but all emergency service disciplines were overwhelmed in November 
2008. There were no protocols for police, fire and medical interaction on an effective 
scale for such a scenario. The Mumbai Fire Brigade was prevented from extinguishing 
the fires at the Taj-Mahal hotel and caring for the wounded at all the scenes because of 
the small-arms fire coming from the structures. Police were unable to advance into the 
hotels because of the IEDs and the fires that were burning (Indian Ministry of External 
Affairs, 2009). Municipal hospitals were inundated with critical-care patients and in 
some cases were unable to handle the number of injured. Patients had to be transferred to 
healthcare facilities outside of the city. The Mumbai emergency response was 
uncoordinated and fragmented; the attacks demanded a coordinated, collaborative effort; 
a synergy of first responders. All these factors resulted in the flawed response to the 
terror attacks and ultimately in a greater loss of life. 


Analysis of today’s terrorism and the Mumbai suicide attacks in the end must 
come full circle to detennine its significance to America, and if a similar event can 
happen here. Despite an aggressive foreign policy and the active engagement of the U.S. 
military, the threat of radical Islamic terrorism still exists in America today. 

Muslim extremism has spread to countries such as Somalia where, for the first 
time, American citizens are known to be participating in a foreign terrorist organization. 


The Al-Shabaab extremist group has successfully attracted young American men to travel 
into the region. According to the Associate Press, “details are emerging about how 
terrorists in Somalia have lured young American men, including as many as 20 from 
Minnesota, back to their homeland to join their jihad. At least three have died, including 
one who authorities believe is the first American suicide bomber. Three others have 
pleaded guilty in the U.S. to terror-related charges” (AP, 2009). Recent incidents like 
these have raised concerns in the U.S. State Department, Intelligence Community, and 
the F.B.I. that individuals with valid American passports are being radicalized and given 
training in terror operations. 

We must also look within our borders for a threat to develop that could initiate a 
similar Mumbai episode. The Fort Hood shootings provide evidence that Islamic 
extremism is finding ways to infect American citizens and naturalized residents. As 
recently as May 2010, radical Islam motivated the failed Times Square bombing attempt 
in New York City. This is further evidence that the will to conduct terror operations on 
U.S. soil is still present. The requisite next question is: what is the probability of a 
Mumbai event taking place here? 

Speaking soon after the November 2008 attacks, the Director of the Combating 
Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Lieutenant Colonel (then 
Major) Reid Sawyer, stated, “You can't prevent this type of attack.... These are 10 
individuals with small arms and a bunch of grenades that have killed nearly a couple 
hundred people and certainly wounded a large amount more” (R. Sawyer, personal 
communication, April 22, 2010). If we consider the low-tech nature of the attack, the 
low cost of the operation and the success achieved in news coverage and damage 
inflicted, combined with the ease in duplicating the Mumbai attack in other locations, the 
U.S. must anticipate that jihadist groups everywhere will attempt to build on such 
methods elsewhere. At a recent seminar specifically on the Mumbai event, reporter John 
Miller, the last American journalist to interview Osama bin Laden had this to say 
regarding the attacks: “the Mumbai model is very attractive to terrorists; and it coincides 


with an up-tick in terrorist operational tempo” (2010). Given all of these factors, we can 
significantly predict that an event similar to the Mumbai suicide attacks is probable in the 
U.S. in the near future. 





Success requires unity of effort, which respects the chain of command of 
each participating organization while harnessing seamless coordination 
across jurisdictions in support of common objectives. 

FEMA National Response Framework, DHS 2008, p. 10 

This thesis investigates the NYC Urban Search and Rescue team (NY-TF1) to 
discover the organizational designs and processes that make it a best-practice example of 
emergency service interdisciplinary synergy. An in-depth discussion of the written 
material that explores the social science that dissects the NY-TF1 model is presented here 
for use later in this paper. Following this, the literature that defines the federal FEMA 
Urban Search and Rescue program is examined to explain the foundation of the 
synergistic elements in the NY-TF1 model. These two categories of literature provide an 
understanding of synergy development that follows in later chapters. 


The application of social science to the NYC emergency service dynamic 
relationship is a crucial factor in preparing for response to endeavors like a Mumbai-style 
terror event. In order to understand the synergies that are required to meet the current 
evolution of suicide terror, an understanding of social science synergy theory and its 
challenges must be established. This paper examines the interagency effectiveness of the 
NY-TF1 USR model regarding C2 from a social science perspective. The synergies 
present in the NY-TF1 model are what this paper maintains are essential for the greater 
FDNY-NYPD first responder relationship in light of the emerging terror threat. A review 
of this literature provides a lens to view the NY-TF1 model. 

The study of social science and social network theory is being applied across 
many domains and disciplines. For decades, this field of research has been utilized by 
educators and manufacturers to enhance the effectiveness of educational approaches and 
increase production of goods and services. Increasingly today, military and emergency 


management officials are finding the application of social science successful for 
command in combat and emergency operations. A particular area of emphasis of these 
studies has focused on command and control (C2) dynamics between hierarchies, 
especially in military frameworks. Analysis of C2 issues and command operational 
models has developed a common understanding of successful military command 
philosophy and protocols. Current research has begun to apply management theory with 
classic military organizational models; these “two domains offer a very clear opportunity 
for productive linkage, since a great many of the activities associated with commanding 
and controlling pertain to organizing and managing and vice versa” (Alberts & Nissen, 
2009, p. 3). This relatively new perspective in social science study is offering interesting 
applications to emergency operation command structure and procedure. 

Today’s emergency managers are tasked with responding to an evolution in 
terrorism as well as challenging disasters, natural and man-made. Emergency service 
commanders see many analogies in military organization, planning and strategy. Current 
periodicals such as International C2 Journal have been focusing on relevant operational 
dynamics both in civil and military contexts. Applied to these command approaches is 
the concept of complex endeavors. Current incidents that NYC First-responders 
confront, structural collapses, hazardous materials emergencies, terror events, etc., have 
been referred to by social scientists as “endeavors [where] no single entity has the 
wherewithal to succeed” (Alberts & Nissen, 2009, p. 6). These endeavors are incidents 
that demand a unified, coordinated and collaborative response; in other words, a synergy 
of the fire service, law enforcement and emergency mangement. Command needs to be 
unified; departmental leaders need to join together in the decision-making process 
(unified command). Agencies need to synchronize their efforts (coordination). And each 
agency’s effort needs to support one another (collaboration). Central concepts that this 
thesis uses in its argument for the best-practices of the NY-TF1 team are summarized 


1. Complex Endeavors 

Scenarios that require an approach that is greater than what one agency (FDNY or 
NYPD) can offer alone have been identified as complex endeavors (Alberts & Nissen 
2009). The 2008 suicide terror attacks in Mumbai, India are just one recent example. 
According to Dr. David Alberts and Dr. Nissen in their work Toward Harmonizing 
Command and Control with Organization and Management Theory (2007, p. 6-7), these 
events exhibit one or more of the following: 

i. The number and diversity of the participants is such that 

(a.) There are multiple interdependent “chains of command,” 

(b.) The objective functions of the participants conflict with one 
another or their components have significantly different weights, or 

(c.) The participants’ perceptions of the situation differ in important 

ways; and 

ii. The effects space spans multiple domains and there is 

(a.) A lack of understanding of networked cause and effect 
relationships, and 

(b.) An inability to predict effects that are likely to arise from 
alternative courses of action. 

The incidents and operations that are discussed in this paper clearly satisfy this 
definition. A major interagency incident similar to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, 
large-scale structural collapse, or another significant incident in NYC will involve the 

1. Multiple interdependent chains of command under the Citywide Incident 
Management System (CIMS, a unified command of FDNY, NYPD, etc.); 

2. Departmental objectives will be prioritized differently and be of varying 
critical importance to the resolution of the incident with each scenario; 

3. The FDNY will approach the incident from a consequence management 
perspective while law enforcement use an largely investigative, security 
management perspective; 

4. Multiple emergency operations (fire suppression, IED operations, 
emergency medicine, etc.) Will need to be conducted in the same 
geographic space; 


5. Department commanders have minimal understanding of the operations 
conducted by sister agencies; and 

6. There is no joint operational strategy and therefore no context to predict 
success or failure; the two disciplines (fire service and law enforcement) 
have no ability to anticipate consequences of courses action outside their 
individual domains. 

2. Synergies 

A complex endeavor demands that emergency services employ a response 
synergy of all agencies that arrive on scene. As exhibited in Mumbai, the law 
enforcement forces could not advance into the burning hotel without fire suppression 
forces to extinguish the fire. Fire service units could not commence operations without 
force protection against the active-shooters targeting them. Additionally, explosive 
ordinance disposal (EOD) activities and emergency medical operations had to be 
conducted simultaneously with these other missions. All these actions in a Complex 
Endeavor like Mumbai demand a synergy of effort; they must be conducted in concert 
with one another. Each task is dependent upon another. And these tasks must be 
accomplished in the same physical space and time period. 

For the purposes of this thesis, the Coming definition of synergy is useful: 
“Synergy—here defined as otherwise unattainable combined effects that are produced by 
two or more elements, parts or individuals” (Corning, 2007, p. 109). In simple terms, a 
Complex Endeavor of neccessity requires a synergistic response. A Mumbai-type event 
in NYC will require an FDNY-NYPD synergystic response. 

This definition needs to be expanded upon for the purposes of this paper. There 
are many different forms and examples of synergy. This thesis examines two forms 

a. Division of Labor 

A classic example of this concept is found in The Wealth of Nations 
(Smith, 1776) in which economist Adam Smith provides one of the textbook examples: 
At a pin factory that Smith had personally observed, 10 workers performing 10 different 


tasks were able to manufacture about 48,000 pins per day. But if each of the laborers 
were to work alone, attempting to perform all of the tasks associated with making pins 
rather than working cooperatively, Smith doubted that on any given day they would be 
able to produce even a single pin per man (Corning, 2007, p. 116). The NY-TF1 model 
for urban search and rescue of collapsed structures demonstrates a division of labor in its 
organizational design. The complex and dangrous USR mission is divided up into 
component tasks, search, rescue/removal, emergency medicine, etc., thereby 
accomplishing the rescue of trapped victims from collapsed buildings. The exact synergy 
components of the NY-TF1 team are examined later in this paper. 

b. Functional Complementarities 

Closely related to a division/combination of labor is the concept of a 
functional complementarity. For instance, some species of crabs form symbiotic 
relationships with sea anemones. They do not divide up a single task but provide 
complementary functions. The crabs provide legs and mobility for the partnership while 
the sea anemones, armed with an array of potent, poison-filled stingers (nematocysts), 
provide the crabs with a formidable defensive weapon against potential predators 
(Corning , 2007, p. 117). The NY-TF1 model exhibits a functional complementary 
synergy between the fire service and law enforcement members in their discipline 
specific capabilities that contribute to the task force mission. These NY-TF1 functional 
complimentary designs are discussed later in this paper. 

3. Power to the Edge Principles 

As this paper will demonstrate, the solution to the problem of response to 
complex endeavors are the synergies examined in the NY-TF1 model. Those synergies 
are the direct result of an organization that exemplifies the concept of Power to the Edge 
principles. In general terms, “Power to the Edge directly addresses the seismic shift in 
relationships required to leverage shared awareness to foster self-synchronization and 
achieve dramatic improvements in mission effectiveness” (Alberts & Nissen, 2009, p. 

12). These edge principles are integral in a synergy between C2 entities. 


This orginizational and management theory (OMT) espoused by the social 
scientists Alberts and Nissen analyzes entities in tenns of C2 Maturity(2009 ). Maturity 
being a conceptual evolutionary scale used to evaluate an entity; be it an individual or 
collective. Edge entities are said to be self-synchronized when they are capable of 
organizing themselves and coordinating their time-dependant activities without 
hierarchical input. This is the ultimate evolution of an individual, organization or 
collective relationship. The opposite end of this spectrum is the traditional (military) 
hierarchical organization found in the military and para-military agencies such as the 
FDNY and NYPD (see Figure 1). The ability of an edge organization to progress from a 
rigid, hierarcical C2 entity to an edge C2 organization is the concept of C2 maturity. It is 
within an edge C2 organization that synergies are developed. A successful response to a 
complex endeavor requires elements found in an edge organization and the synergies of 
effort that they produce. 

C2 approach space, or the components of edge principles are paterns of 
interaction (POI), distribution of information (DOI), and allocation of decision rights 
(ADR) (Alberts & Nissen 2009). Within these three parameters, entities can be evaluated 
and measured to determine their respective C2 maturities. The POI and DOI demensions 
span from “none” to “broad,” while the ADR demension covers a continuum from 
“highly constrained” to “unconstrained.” For example, a traditional hierarchical 
organization (FDNY or NYPD) in a joint context has limited interaction and information 
sharing ability as well as limited span of control from a collective understanding; the two 
departments do not communicate, interact or realize control with each other in a way that 
approaches an “edge” entity. An edge organization, such as the NY-TF1 model, has a 
well established common organizational structure, collective interactive procedures and 
communicative processes in addition to an unconstrained command influences. Note that 
these metrics are more qualitative than quantitative and do not definitively measure exact 
delineations for this organization. The graphic representation of C2 approach space in 
Alberts and Niseen’s C2 Approach Space is meant to portray a very approximate 
relationship between C2 approaches, not to precisely measure differing entities C2 
designs and structures. 


Using the graph in Figure 1, we can get a general understanding of where an 
entity (FDNY, NYPD or NY-TF1) is in terms of C2 maturity. Organizations that exhibit 
less C2 maturity are deemed to have limited interaction with outside entities (POI), little 
control in collective situations (ADR) and do not contribute to developing a greater 
situational awamess between organizations (DOI). As examined later, the FDNY and 
NYPD dynamic relationship most closely resembles a traditional military organizational 
hierarchy. Consquently, its position on the C2 approach space graph will closely 
approximate that of a traditional military organization. This thesis asserts that the NY- 
TF1 model is an edge organization and is expected to be positioned closely to where an 
edge entity would be graphed. 

Figure 1. C2 Approach Space (From Alberts & Hayes 2006) 

Within the three-dimensional graphic depicting the C2 approach space are five 
categories or C2 approaches into which an entity (or organization) can be assigned. They 
include: 1) Conflicted, 2) De-Conflicted, 3) Coordinated, 4) Collaborative, and 5) Edge. 
This spectrum approximates the C2 maturity and, consequently, the level of synergy 
found in entities. This spectrum progresses from conflicted, wherein the “whole” of a 
collective is far less than the potential sum of its parts, to edge, where “a robustly 
networked force [POI]...increases information sharing [DOI]. Information sharing 
improves both the quality of information and shared awareness. Shared awareness 


enables self-synchronization [ADR] and improves mission effectiveness” (Alberts & 
Nissen, 2009, p. 19). An edge organization is better equiped to confront a eomplex 
endeavor. Improving an organizations C2 maturity is the solution for responding to a 
complex endeavor event. 

It must be recognized that these aspects of edge entities are not constants; they 
must remain fluid. The operational requirements and parameters of emergency incidents 
are never identical. Each incident is unique in nature,size, scale and goegraphic location. 
This is the very nature of complex endeavors. In referencing analogous military 
scenarios, the social scientists Alberts and Nissen comment on complex endeavors: 
“There is no single approach, no best system design or configuration, no best process for 
all situations and circumstances” (Alberts & Nissen 2009, p. 15). Its more important to 
provide edge entities with a freedom of manuever so they can realize the potential of 
edge principles. Because of their decentralized authority, close integration and superior 
situantional awarness, edge organizations have an operational agility, where agility “is 
the capability to maintain effectiveness in the face of changing circumstances and a 
variety of stresses” (Alberts 2007, p. 15). It is this agility that contributes to an Edge 
edge organization’s ability to meet a complex endeavor. 

This thesis identifies these edge organizational traits in the NY-TF1 model that 
foster collaboration and reduce uncertainty at complex endeavors. The evidence 
provided later in this paper is derived from first-hand accounts of these edge principles in 


The NY-TF1 model is part of the greater FEMA Urban Search and Rescue 
Program. The body of literature behind the national USR effort is predominantly U.S. 
Congressional legislation, operational guidelines and procedures, media reporting on 
deployments, and technical/tactical manuals that build a framework for a synergistic 


mission: rescuing victims from structural collapse incidents. A review of these 
documents establishes an understanding of how USR operations provide a platform for 
synergy development. 

As the global population becomes more and more concentrated in urban settings, 
the significant need for plans and resources to rescue victims trapped in collapse 
structures will become more and more critical. According to the University of Michigan, 
more than 60 percent of the world’s population will live in an urban area by 2025, and 
this trend is increasing in developing nations (University of Michigan, 2006). 
Concurrently, the incidence of collapsed structures is also increasing. In response to this, 
the United States government has established the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue 
Program. This effort is a national network of resources, response teams and supporting 
agencies that can assist local emergency responders or conduct operations independently 
to rescue trapped victims in collapsed structures. This highly challenging and dangerous 
mission requires the collective activities of numerous emergency service disciplines: 
firefighting, emergency medicine, structural engineering, etc. The ability of first 
responders to respond to disaster scenes with a synergy of effort will be a determining 
factor in the success of a USR operation. The earthquake in Kobe, Japan in 1995 
demonstrated the need for a unified response of all first response organizations. 
Evaluating emergency service synergy during that event identified that “coordination 
among responders is...especially critical in the early stages” (Active Learning Network, 
2009, p. 10). 

1. Origins 

The 1990 National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act 
expanded the federal involvement in responding to major earthquakes. It specifically 
gives FEMA responsibility to “develop and coordinate” federal interagency plans to 
respond to an earthquake. This amendment of the 1977 bill details plans for high-risk 
areas in terms of adequate emergency medical resources, search and rescue personnel and 
equipment. Prior to this federal initiative, FEMA had been occupied with a strategic 


approach to responding to large-scale earthquakes while direct control of immediate 
emergency services was left to local and state authorities. Every state and most of the 
larger municipalities had, until this point, created separate and independent search and 
rescue resources and capabilities. As can be expected, there was a wide spectrum of 
qualifications, expertise, procedures, equipment and staffing levels found throughout the 
country as far as Urban Search and Rescue (USR) was concerned. In 1990, the federal 
government saw a need to unify these disparate approaches and establish a national USR 
response capability. 

Under this greater national structure the spectrum of approaches regarding USR 
operations would be focused and unified. The national FEMA system provided a 
direction for the numerous other local and state emergency managers. Those local and 
state USR elements that were not part of the larger FEMA program (the 28 FEMA task 
forces) could adapt their abilities and resources to support the FEMA program. Regions 
and municipalities that had neither the financing nor resources to field similar USR task 
forces could now at least contribute support to the FEMA program when and where the 
need arose in their communities. FEMA had formed the backbone of a consolidated 
national USR system in its 28 task forces. Those 28 teams could be supported by local 
emergency responders in terms of manpower, logistics and emergency finances when 
needed. This was a significant advance for the American USR effort. 

The first real test of the FEMA USR system came in 1995. When the Alfred P. 
Murrah building was bombed on April 19, 1995 in Oklahoma City, the FEMA Urban 
Search and Rescue system was called upon. A total of 11 USR task forces responded 
during the course of the incident. Although there were no live victims extricated from the 
collapse due to the nature of the collapse, the varied emergency disciplines and distinct 
task forces worked extremely well together. During the 16-day event, approximately 700 
FEMA personnel and 1,000 Oklahoma City Fire Department personnel were involved in 
the rescue and recovery operation (Downey, 1995). In his appraisal of the effectiveness 
of the multijurisdictional, interdisciplinary incident, the Rescue Operations Chief, 
FDNY’s Ray Downey made this observation: “Coordination and teamwork during the 


operation were exceptional” (Downey, 1995, p. 7). Considering the extent of the 
destruction involved and the inherent hazards present, all rescue operations were 
efficiently accomplished while the safety of emergency personnel was ensured. There 
were no serious injuries during the operation and all areas of the site were effectively 
searched in an expedient manner. The Oklahoma City Bombing incident, although not 
the result of an earthquake, realized the national vision of the 1977 NEHRA legistlation; 
the organization of emergency services to mitigate devastation and limit loss of life. 

The response history of the national USR program illustrates an expanding 
utilization of the system to support emergency responders at the local government level. 
Clearly, this program demonstrated its value outside of strictly earthquake hazard 
mitigation. In supporting emergency response at each of these disasters, the FEMA USR 
program acquired critical expertise in search and rescue operations. The task forces 
developed essential skills in incident management, command and support functions in 
addition to the tactical aspects of response to collapsed structures. The FEMA program 
in its entirety would be strained to its limit in the late summer of 2001. 

In theory, the national USR plan can be employed as a whole in response to a 
national disaster. All 28 task forces can be assigned at one time to a specified event. 
However, it was created to provide immediate, federal response to an affected 
jurisdiction(s) while also ensuring adequate stand-by capability for an additional incident 
somewhere else in the U.S. necessitating search and rescue of collapsed structures. The 
terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) in NYC and the Pentagon in 
Washington, D.C. would come close to stripping FEMA of all its response capability. 

The national scope of the 9/11 attacks was apparent within hours of the initial 
attacks. As the country watched the destruction unfold, the national USR program was 
moving to respond. Barely an hour passed since the first aircraft crashed into the North 
Tower of the WTC when FEMA headquarters had activated 16 USR task forces (more 
than 1,000 personnel and 64 canine search dogs) for deployment (Collins, 2002), The 
remaining 12 task forces went on “alert” status and instructed to prepare for deployment 


(Collins, 2002). In that one morning, the largest commitment of national USR resources 
had already been ordered. Before operations were concluded in both cities, all but two 
task forces would be put to work. 

In terms of size and complexity, the Pentagon attack was comparable to 
operations cunducted at the 1995 attack on the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. A 
total of five FEMA task forces were ultimately assigned to the collapse in Washington 
during its approximate two week operational period. Activities in New York City on the 
other hand, presented challenges for USR task forces on an unprecedented scale. FEMA 
maintained a USR presence on scene for the first three months of operations at the WTC 
site. Twenty-one of the 28 FEMA task forces would rotate through NYC during this 
period. At both disaster sites, the strength of the national USR program was 
demonstrated in the coordination and collaboration of its effort to the total response to the 
attacks. Under what was known as the Federal Response Plan, the official standard 
operational procedure for disaster response by the federal government, FEMA task forces 
enhanced the greater emergency response effort in a number of synergitic ways (Federal 
Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], 2003). First, the FEMA taks force 
organization and SOP were adaptable. At the Pentagon site, UST task forces operated as 
an subject matter expert (SME) resource for the incident commander (IC). In that 
situation, the FEMA teams were the primary search and rescue forces. The situation at 
the WTC site was significantly different. There, FEMA teams augmented the NYC 
search and rescue capability. The FEMA teams provided additional resources to handle 
the vast scale of the site in addition to FDNY and NYPD Special Operations resources. 
The USR task force mission is to support local IC’s objectives. This respects and 
maintains the local IC’s authority while at the same time provides an advanced federal 
USR capability that becomes part of local emergency incident command. USR task 
forces coordinate and collaborate under the nationaly accepted Incident Command 
System (ICS). This supports the overall response effort and helps to eliminate 
competition and redundant effort. 


Next, FEMA task forces provide technical proficiency and tactical expertise in 
USR operations that many municipalities, even our larger urban areas, lack. At large- 
scale and/or complex structural collapse incidents, the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue 
System is designed to simultaneously conduct the various stages of the FEMA Collapse 
Rescue Plan. At all substantial structural collapses, generally all five stages of the 
Collapse Rescue Plan need to be conducted during the course of rescue and recovery 
operations. This plan is situationally dependent on conditions that are unique to each 
collapse incident. Often, the stages of the Collapse Search and Rescue Plan need to be 
mixed and/or conducted concurrently depending on site-specific requirements (Dunn, 
1988). While the order that each stage is performed is generally critical, skipping a 
search of voids and proceeding to general removal of debris could doom otherwise viable 
victims, a mix of stages depending on circumstances may be required to rescue the 
maximum number of trapped victims. In his assesment of prior USR operations, Los 
Angeles County Fire Chief Larry Collins (a nationally renowned USR leader) offered this 
insight on the 9/11 response: “Clearly, experience is a key comeponent of readiness for 
unusual missions like the Pentagon and World Trade Center incidents” (Collins, 2002, p. 
14). The expertise that the federal government had fostered in the USR system, since its 
inception in 1990, would pay dividends in 2001. 

The FEMA task force system not only brings tactical capability in the conduct of 
such operations; it also provides expertise to coordinate simultaneous similar efforts at 
multi-locations. This response can be tailored as conditions dictate. After the 9/11 
attacks, this ability was invaluable because of the unprecedented size, scale and scope of 
the two simultaneous collapse incidents. Testimony before the U.S. Senate has 
highlighted the national USR ability to assemble a unified response of local, state and 
federal emergency personnel into a first respose synergy. Fred Endrikat, Special 

- The five standard stages of the nationally recognized Collapse Search and Rescue Plan are: 1) Size- 
up and Reconnaissance, 2) Surface Rescue, 3) Primary Void Search, 4) Selected Debris Removal, and 5) 
General Debris Removal (Dunn 1988). Greater detail on the tactical elements of collapse operations can be 
found in Collapse of Burning Buildings (Dunn, 1988). 


Operations Chief for the Philedelphia Fire Department and a FEMA Task Force Leader, 
referenced the strength of the national USR program in his testimony before the Senate: 

One of the demonstrated strengths of the National US&R System has been 
the ability to coordinate state and local US&R assets and quickly fold 
them into field operations at disaster sites (at the request of the local 
Authorities having Jurisdiction). 

Fred Endrikat, Testimony before the United States House of 

Representatives, May 6, 2007. 

This ability to foster a collective, synergistic team between diverse layers of 
emergency responders and government is the product of preparation and unity of the 
program’s direction. State, regional and local first responders follow FEMA’s USR 
training curriculum, equipment standards and policies in preparation for responding to 
local emergencies. This national direction is followed for two reasons. One, local 
emergency response agencies have recognized that the FEMA USR model is a best- 
practice model for search and rescue operations at structural collapses. Additionally, the 
national USR program actively reaches out to all tiers of local response and is willing to 
share technical knowledge, training curricula, policies and procedures. Each agency is 
empowered as a stakeholder in the greater national USR system. This was evident in the 
integrated FEMA response to the WTC on 9/11. 

Task force expertise and leadership effectively operated in NYC and Washington, 
D.C. This was shown in the safety record during both operations. Not a single rescuer 
was killed during rescue and recovery operations despite some of the most hazardous 
conditions present after the respective collapses. The experience of the task force 
members and the ability of task force leaders to coordinate their efforts and form 
collaborative partnerships with local agencies were critical to the overall safety witnessed 
in the conduct of operations. 

After the 9/11 attacks, the FEMA USR system would face another event of 
national significance that solidified the 28 national task forces as an “all-hazards” 
response resource. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina challenged FEMA with the search of 

thousands of homes and buildings and the rescue of 6,587 victims (Endrikat, 2007). 


Although responding to hurricanes had been performed by task forces in the past, the 
wide scale flooding that damaged or completely destroyed structures and the 
complications that followed presented new challenges for the FEMA task forces that 
were deployed to the Gulf Coast region. Katrina demonstrated that the FEMA USR 
program is expandable outside of the original mission, earthquake hazard mitigation. 
When presented with operational tasks and objectives not specifically within its domain, 
the FEMA USR program demonstrated an inherent ability to deal with operational 
uncertainty. Missions that were outside the FEMA task force concept of operations were 
now conducted by USR task forces. 

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s path, three states suffered a level of 
destruction that has rarely been seen in North America. An almost countless number of 
structures, streets and even entire communities were rendered uninhabitable. To impede 
response efforts even further, sustained flood conditions in New Orleans and other areas 
hindered access to many affected areas. All 28 national USR task forces were activated 
during this incident and 10 were again called upon for a second deployment because of 
the duration of operations. Without a doubt, this mission did not fall within the 
parameters of its original fonnation. The task forces had no SOPs or organic equipment 
that were designed for rescuing occupants from flooded areas. The basic concepts of 
search and rescue operations coupled with ingenious task force leadership were able to 
overcome these challenges. In so doing, the FEMA USR program evolved into a 
response force expandable for deployments in addition to earthquake incidents. LAFD 
Fire Chief Larry Collins identified this evolution in his case study of the 9/11 Pentagon 
attacks and the FEMA response: “It’s become clear that the Federal USR Task Forces can 
be effectively deployed to augment local resources during disasters involving floods, mud 
& debris flows, dam failure, and even unusual events like volcanic eruptions and 
tsunamis” (2002, p. 14). This evolution of the FEMA USR program enhanced of the 
national task forces’ expertise in terms of coordinating and collaborating with local and 
state agencies at multi-agency, multijurisdictional incidents. This command expertise 
and operational ability promotes a synergy of emergency services at prolonged serach, 
rescue and recovery operations. 


Over the last two decades, the FEMA USR program has grown from a vision to 
limit loss of life and mitigate the hazards resulting from a major earthquake to a national 
response capability for largescale emergencies and disasters. During the course of this 
evolution, this program has developed an adaptability to local incident response. Task 
forces are easily assimilated into local emergency incident management—an uncommon 
virtue in federal government. This aspect of the national USR program supports its 
ability to coordinate resources at disaster scenes and collaborate with local agencies in 
the overall response effort. Furthermore, the expandable nature of the USR mission has 
allowed the system to grow out of its strict role in eartquake response. In becoming an 
all-hazards resource, the task forces have expanded their ability and expertise to 
coordinate and collaborate with local agencies across the nation. In short, the FEMA 
USR program has evolved into a synergistic federal response force that works 
exceptionally well with the local, state and regional agencies it supports during diverse 
and uncertain emergencies. 

2. Task Force Organizational Design 

The nature of the USR mission is one that demands a synergy of all the 
component disciplines. Assembled as a cohesive unit, each FEMA task force is able to 
perform undertakings that the separate component emergency disciplines are unable to 
accomplish alone—the effective and expeditious search and rescue of trapped victims 
from collapsed structures. Without a coordinated, collaborative approach, each USR task 
force could not perform their assignments under the strenuous and dangerous conditions 
found at virtually all collapsed structures (Endrikat, 2007): 

• Search Specialists utilize canines and technical electronic search 
equipment to locate trapped victims. 

• Rescue Specialists are skilled in shoring operations, lifting, and cutting 
and breaching all types of building materials including structural steel and 
reinforced concrete to extricate trapped victims. 

• Physicians and Medical Specialists (at the paramedic or equivalent level) 
provide advanced life support capability and prehospital and emergency 
care for Task Force members and crush syndrome medicine and confined 
space medicine for rescued victims. 


• Rigging Specialists work in conjunction with heavy equipment, such as 
large hydraulic cranes, to remove heavy debris and expose collapse voids 
where victims are buried. 

• Structural Engineers (some of them firefighters also licensed as 
professional engineers) perfonn structural integrity assessments of 
structures in rescue operations. 

• Hazardous Materials Specialists and Technical Infonnation Specialists 
provide support to the overall search and rescue mission including 
planning, hazards evaluation, hazardous materials assessments in rescue 
operations, and technical documentation. 

• Logistics Specialists support the overall search and rescue mission by 
providing supplies, equipment, communications, and transportation for the 
Task Force and managing the mobilization and demobilization processes. 

All of these component specialties contribute unique skills, resources and abilities 
to the task force. Depending on conditions that vary from incident to incident, any one of 
these disciplines can be critical to the success or failure of the entire task force. And all of 
these task force elements are leveraged at every incident. The components of each USR 
task force enable the unit to rescue trapped victims from collapsed buildings whereas the 
individual specialists could never accomplish such an endeavor independently. As stated 
by Corning, synergy is the otherwise unattainable combined effects that are produced by 
two or more elements; USR produces these effects and satisfies the definition of synergy 
(Coming, 2007). 

In addition to organizing each task force into a synergistic structure according to 
specialty, every FEMA task force is organized to be able to operate under the following 
guidelines (Endrikat, 2007): 

• 24-hour around-the clock operations. 

• Self-sufficiency for 72 hours. 

• Report to the Point Of Departure within 4-6 hours of activation, and to be 
able to deploy all personnel and the entire equipment cache by ground or 
air (as required). 

• Cross-trained personnel. 

• Standardized equipment and training. 


• Standardized operating procedures. 

• Operate under the Incident Command System (ICS). 

Each of these requirements demands that a USR task force maintain a high degree 
of intra-unit coordination and collaboration among its subordinate elements. Task forces 
that do not foster a synergy of its component parts cannot operate on a 24-hour rotational 
basis, unsupported for up to 72 hours. If task forces do not cross train personnel, the loss 
of even one or two members in critical tasks could render the task force ineffective. All 
seven of these organizational guidelines are predicated on task force synergy. 

Task force organizational structure fosters synergy in its design. Each of the 28 
FEMA USR task forces consists of 68 members. Those 68 persons make up four, six- 
member rescue squads, two two-member technical search squads, four canine search 
teams, two medical squads and a support section that comprises specialists in heavy 
equipment, communications, structural engineering, technical information and hazardous 
materials response. Each task force is broken down into component teams, with primary 
and assistant team leaders. Note that each task force is expected to conduct operations 
around-the-clock. Consequently, each position on a FEMA USR task force is duplicated, 
in order to allow for continuous operation: half the task force operating and half at rest in 
12-hour cycles. The organization of each task force provides for a division of labor 
among its subordinate elements and maximizes the functional complementary strengths 
of each subordinate discipline. Canine search teams locate victims. Rescue teams use 
specialized entry and removal techniques to remove victims. Engineers evaluate 
structures to identify weak areas, assess entry options and ensure rescuer safety. 
Logisticians identify support requirements and maintain sufficient equipment for rescue 
teams. Medical personnel enter collapses to administer advanced life support to victims 
before removal and prepare triage stations for removed victims and injured rescue 
workers. Hazardous materials technicians identify dangerous substances that may 
threaten trapped victims and rescuers. All these specialties are critical to the success of 
the task force as a unit. 


The structure of each task force fosters synergy both within the task force but also 
in concert with local emergency resources. Task forces are structured to operate 
completely independently or collaboratively with local responders. Task force division 
of labor into search, rescue, medical and support teams can perform each USR task 
(search, technical rescue, etc.) without local support for up to 72 hours and accomplish 
the USR mission. Each task force team can also augment local resources. Collaborating 
with local response agencies enhances the capability of first responders with national 
USR expertise, while federal resources benefit from the local emergency personnel 
knowledge of geography, environment and situational awareness. The end result is a 
USR response effort that is stronger than either a federal or local independent approach. 
Again, this is Coming’s definition of synergy (2007). 

The federal USR concept is well organized to develop synergy independently and 
collectively with local USR assets. FEMA task force structure sets the stage for synergy 
while FEMA USR standard operational procedure expresses the synergistic vision of 
successful victim rescue operation. 

3. Task Force Procedure 

Interdisciplinary synergy is fostered not only in task force organizational design 
but also through the utilization of two unifying standard operating protocols: the National 
Response Framework (NRF) and the Urban Search and Rescue Response System in 
Federal Disaster Operations Manual (FEMA, 2000). These two documents are the 
governing protocols for the FEMA USR task force program. The former addresses the 
national approach to catastrophic emergency management and the latter outlines guidance 
for specific search and rescue operations. Together, the NRF and the USR operations 
manual set the parameters for utilization of the 28 FEMA task forces. These procedures 
define roles and responsibilities, standardize organization, assign objectives and clarify 
component relationships and authority for each element of a FEMA task force. The 
resulting impact from these protocols is the fostering of a synergistic environment that is 
evident on each task force. The NRF is the federal strategy to promote a synergistic 


response to large-scale emergency incidents, while the USR operations manual is the 
tactical guidance for response synergy of national assets during search and rescue 

The National Response Framework is the current evolution of the nation’s federal 
emergency management. The NRF supersedes the Federal Response Plan (FRP), 1992 
and the National Response Plan (NRP) (FEMA, 2004). It was adopted in 2008 and 
represents the federal approach to managing “incidents of national significance”. 
Defined by the NRP; these events consist of the following criteria and are clearly 
complex endeavors (FEMA, 2004): 

• The resources of State and local authorities are overwhelmed and Federal 
assistance has been requested by the appropriate State and local 

• More than one Federal department or agency has become substantially 
involved in responding to an incident. 

• Threats or incidents related to high-profile, large-scale events that present 
high-probability targets such as National Special Security Events (NSSEs) 
and other special events as determined by the Secretary of Homeland 
Security, in coordination with other Federal departments and agencies. 

• The Secretary of Homeland Security has been directed to assume 
responsibility for managing a domestic incident by the President 

The NRF is synergistically superior to the earlier federal strategies in that it 
integrates local and state authorities, which were substantially left out of the FRP and the 
NRP. This fact is referenced in the NRF, itself: 

... [the FRP and NRP are] insufficiently national in focus, which is to say 
that it should speak more clearly to the roles and responsibilities of all 
parties involved in response. Moreover, it was evident that the NRP and its 
supporting documents did not constitute a true operational plan in the 
sense understood by emergency managers. Its content was inconsistent 
with the promise of its title. (FEMA, 2008, p. 2) 

The national approach to incident management should seek to achieve a synergy 
of national, state, and local resources. The NRF substantially achieves this by aligning 
federal coordinating structures, capabilities, and resources into a unified, all-hazards and 


all-discipline approach to incident management. When called upon, the NRF is used to 
manage the federal resources required at major disasters (complex endeavors) like 
Hurricane Katrina and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. By amending the NRP 
and adopting the term “framework,” the current federal incident management strategy 
acknowledges that effective response to an event is the shared responsibility of 
governments at all levels (FEMA, 2008). From this perspective, a synergy of emergency 
response resources is assembled. 

The core of the federal response to any disaster, according to the NRF, is the 
National Incident Management System (NIMS). As stated in the NRF, NIMS provides a: 

...consistent, nationwide template to enable Federal, State, tribal, and 
local governments, the private sector, and Non-Governmental 
Organizations (NGO) to work together to prepare for, prevent, respond to 
recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents regardless of cause, 
size, location, or complexity. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security 
2008, p. 4) 

By coordinating and integrating all the stakeholders involved at major USR 
operations (federal, state, and local), the NIMS protocol achieves a unity of effort from 
all contributing agencies and partners. This is accomplished through unified command at 
USR incidents. The NRF strategy uses unified command to assemble “a team effort that 
allows all agencies with jurisdictional authority and/or functional responsibility for USR 
incidents to provide joint support through mutually developed objectives and strategies at 
the command level” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security 2008, p. 10). 

NIMS supports USR operations by enforcing the following elements of unified 

1. Developing a single set of objectives; 

2. Using a collective, strategic approach; 

3. Improving information flow and coordination; 

4. Creating common understanding of joint priorities and restrictions; 

5. Ensuring that no agency’s legal authorities are compromised or neglected 


6. Optimizing the combined efforts of all agencies under a single plan. (U.S. 

Department of Homeland Security, 2008, p. 11) 

Participation in the planning and decision making processes ensures that specific 
capabilities and resources (e.g., firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medicine, 
public works, environmental protection, etc.) are integrated into a workable course of 
action. Just as importantly, this plan and leadership construct is supported by each 
subordinate agency and stakeholder. Unified command establishes a framework for the 
synergy of resources that USR operations demand. These elements of unified command 
are also traits exhibited by edge organizations. 

Unified command employs the Incident Command System (ICS) to align and 
coordnate the subordinate components of a USR operation. Developed in the 1970s to 
command federal, state, and local wildland fire services, ICS is the accepted 
organizational protocol for incident management for interagency, multidisciplinary 
operations. The NRF uses ICS to facilitate USR activities in five major areas: command, 
operations, planning, logistics and finance administration. The use of ICS allows for the 
establishment of a unified command at USR operations. Under this ICS protocol, 
competition and conflict between agencies and jurisdictions is eliminated. This ensures 
that all resources and capabilities can contribute to the rescue of trapped victims at USR 
operations. At the Oklahoma City Bombing, ICS was used to establish command and 
manage resources. This was referenced by the Journal of Homeland Security and 
Emergency Management : “In this incident most if not all of the elements of the ICS were 
used to manage the inter-agency response to the disaster...ICS provided an effective 
means to coordinate inter-agency efforts” (Aguirre, Buck, & Trainory, 2006, p. 7). 

If the NRF is the federal strategy for emergency management of events like 
Katrina and 9/11 (complex endeavors), then the Urban Search and Rescue Response 
System Operations Manual is the playbook that the federal government uses at 
catastrophic USR incidents. This document promotes a synergistic effort of federal, state 
and local resources by clearly specifying how operations are conducted under the ICS 
structure in response to incidents dominated by uncertainties (FEMA, 2000b). The USR 


operations manual recognizes that local and state authority is maintained while federal 
assets support or independently undertake search and rescue operations, while at all times 
observing established incident command authority. The USR operations manual provides 
specific details regarding: 

• Delineation of organizational responsibilities and roles. 

• Description of relationships between FEMA USR assests and other 
supporting organizations. 

• Identification of procedures for on-site operations. 

By establishing these written protocols, the USR operations manual eliminates 
confusion and equivocality over mission assignments, objective responsibility, 
competition for resources and clearly establishes lines of communication and the chain of 
command. The importance of how a FEMA USR task force coordinates and collaborates 
during a rescue operation in terms of developing synergy cannot be overstated. This 
document recognizes this by dedicating an entire appendix that addresses incident 
management and coordination to reduce operational uncertainties (FEMA, 2000b). 
Appendix A directs Task Force Leaders (TFL) to closely align operations into the NIMS 
incident command structure: 

The local IC should understand that the task force is a resource, available 
for their use and under their operational control... The TFL should make 
every attempt to integrate the local rescue effort with the task force 
operations, when possible. This cooperation promotes hannony and 
minimizes any friction between the local effort and the task forces. The 
TFL must be cognizant of potential problems that can occur when there is 
a perception that the FEMA US&R resources will overwhelm the local 
rescue effort and take over the incident. The TFL should work with the 
local command personnel to diffuse any personnel issues that may occur 
that could impede the rescue effort. (FEMA, 2000b, p. A-7) 

Under this protocol, the major contributing agencies from all levels of 
government easily understand their position in the greater response effort and how federal 
assets can support them. Varied jurisdictional and functional emergency response entities 
can establish a cohesive effort. Clarifying these roles and relationships strengthens and 


unifies overall incident command. This enables each response discipline to contribute 
their independent specialties to the operation. In so doing, a synergy of response can then 
be realized and operational chaos and uncertainty is minimized. 

Having established the “playing field” and exactly where each response agency 
fits into USR organizational structure, the operations manual fosters a synergy of effort in 
unifying and consolidating the “how:” the tactical direction covering SOPs for search and 
rescue operations (FEMA, 2000b). There are two specific appendices that govern 
strategic and tactical procedures for USR operations. Nationally, there are numerous 
approaches to affect USR incidents and these approaches use different procedures, 
techniques and staffing levels with significantly different certification, training standards 
and qualification requirements. The USR operations manual consolidates these 
approaches, certifications, training standards and qualification requirements in one 
document. This not only unifies the SOP for the 28 FEMA task forces, but also provides 
a protocol for supporting agencies and municipalities to emulate. 

Understanding that search and rescue operations in the urban disaster environment 
require the close interaction of all task force elements (search, rescue, medical and 
technical personnel from all levels of government) for safe and successful victim 
extrication, the USR operations manual standardizes rescue strategy and tactics. This 
fosters a synergy of all task force elements that results in: 

• Effective management and coordination of rescue operations. 

• Better task force resource utilization and coordination. 

• Proper integration of all task force disciplines (i.e., medical, hazardous 
materials, and structures specialists, etc.) in the rescue operations. 

• The incorporation of assistance from entities outside the task force. 

• Simultaneous, multiple-site rescue operations. 

• Increased safety for all task force members involved in rescue operations. 

• Around-the-clock (24-hour) operations. 

• Organized and rapid victim extrication. 


Following the national framework, the USR operations manual provides clear 
direction for component teams to follow (FEMA, 2000b). This ensures that all resources 
under task force leadership are utilized efficiently with minimal duplication of effort or 
wasted time and energy. 

Urban search and rescue operations challenge the emergency response capabilities 
of government at the federal, state and local level. Catastrophic events that precipitate 
USR incidents will overwhelm virtually all resources quickly and demand a unified 
synergy from all responding agencies. The FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Response 
System provides the organizational designs and processes that enable a coordinated and 
collaborative response to such complex endeavors, reduces the challenges posed by the 
influence of operational uncertainties and gives trapped victims a better chance for 






New York Task Force 1 (NY-TF1) is a key member of the federally led 
Urban Search & Rescue response excellent example of inter¬ 
agency coordination and cooperation, an excellent representative of the 
City’s superb emergency response capability. 

Joseph F. Bruno, NYC OEM Commissioner, 2006 


This chapter presents the research found during the investigation of the NY-TF1 
model. Having established that USR operations and a Mumbai-style terror attack are 
both complex endeavors necessitating a synergistic response and that the FEMA USR 
program is a synergistic environment, this chapter examines the NYC USR task force to 
identify its organizational designs and systemic processes applicable to those complex 
endeavors. This examination has concluded that these designs and processes are 
contributing factors behind the FDNY-NYPD synergy inherent in the NY-TF1 model. 
Analysis of the NY-TF1 model in this chapter begins with a brief history of the task 
force. Understanding the creation of the team facilitates a qualitative assessment of its 
organization and processes for intrinsic synergistic strengths. This qualitative assessment 
uses the metrics that describe “edge” entities to analyze the common themes collected 
through interviews of leadership positions involved in the NYC USR program. The 
alignment of commonalities found throughout command interviews has confirmed that 
there is a synergy among the FDNY and NYPD components of the New York City USR 
task force. 

The organizational designs and processes presented here are derived from data 

collected through interviews of the three levels of task force leadership and research on 

the NY-TF1 program. Common themes and elements identified from both emergency 

service disciplines are the qualitative evidence for this thesis’ assertion, that NY-TF1 is a 


best-practice example of interdisciplinary synergy. The application of these identified 
NY-TF1 synergy factors into the NYC emergency service relationship can produce a 
positive impact, moving the FDNY and NYPD from a “conflicted” relationship and 
closer to a dynamic “edge” synergy. 


The origin of the NYC Urban Search and Rescue program mirrored the national 
effort started in the late 1980s. This is because the first commander of the task force, 
FDNY Fire Chief Raymond Downey, was also a major contributor in the creation of the 
national FEMA program. In the late 1980s, local emergency service leaders recognized 
the importance of the national USR effort and sought to incorporate their own expertise 
and qualifications into a NYC contribution to the FEMA program. However, as it does 
with most things, New York City approached the national program in a distinctly 
different fashion. The New York task force would incorporate law enforcement into half 
the unit. It is within this unique approach to the national USR program that a best- 
practice example of interagency synergy between the FDNY and NYPD emerged. The 
interdisciplinary collaboration found in the NY-TF1 model leverages a division of labor 
in organizational design and systemic processes developed since its establishment. At the 
same time, the divergent emergency disciplines bring specific complimentary abilities to 
the NY-TF1 model. These intrinsic service capabilities (canine search, NYPD, and 
structural specialists, FDNY) established at its founding gave NY-TF1 a synergy of 
agency resources not found in the greater NYC response framework. NY-TF1 systemic 
procedures incorporate these functional complimentary capabilities into a synergy of 
interdisciplinary effort unique to the NYC task force. 

Unlike emergency management in virtually all other municipalities across the 
U.S., the city of New York responds to major life-threatening operations with both its fire 
and police services. The FDNY and NYPD share roles and responsibilities for the rescue 
of victims involved in structural collapses, confined-space entrapments, hazardous 
materials incidents, motor vehicle accidents, high-angle rope incidents and other life- 
threatening situations. This approach to emergency management is unique when 


compared to other communities of similar size. These types of public safety incidents are 
almost universally the realm of the fire service in America and around the developed 
world. In NYC, this is not the case. 

The NYPD deploys 457 police officers in their Emergency Services Units (ESU) 
around the city. These units, similar to S.W.A.T. police found in other departments, 
respond to incidents ranging from hostage negotiations, emotionally disturbed persons, 
active-shooter incidents and other emergencies that require specially trained and 
equipped law enforcement resources. They also are dispatched to incidents that are 
traditionally understood to be fire service operations; such as collapsed buildings, etc. 
Since NYC employs both emergency services in response to such events, the FDNY and 
NYPD were both incorporated into the creation of its FEMA task force. By the end of 
1992, the New York City Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 (NY-TF1) had 
completed all its required training and certifications as a member of the greater FEMA 
program. Where the other FEMA task forces were comprised almost exclusively of fire 
service personnel, the NYC version had half its personnel from the law enforcement 

The federal concept of USR operations and the NYC multidiscipline approach to 
the rescue of trapped victims has provided a venue for service interaction between the 
FDNY and NYPD that has not substantially existed on the streets of New York. As 
illogical as that statement sounds the FDNY and NYPD had evolved into independent 
organizations that utilized distinct and separate methodologies to affect emergency 
management in NYC. The NY-TF1 framework forced the two antagonists in New 
York’s “Battle-of-the-Badges” onto the same team. This team plays in a game, USR 
operations, which demands the coordinated and collaborative effort from its component 
disciplines to accomplish its mission. NY-TFl’s establishment, out of mission necessity, 
required fostering synergy between the FDNY and NYPD elements. The synergy 
between the emergency service disciplines is a product of the organizational designs and 
processes that govern the NY-TF1 model. 



NY-TF1 derives FDNY-NYPD synergy from organizational designs used during 
USR operations. Task force structural themes that promote interdisciplinary synergy are 
interagency tactical integration, unity of command and the component role definition of 
NY-TF1. Over time, a collective synergy has developed from these organizational 
designs between the FDNY and NYPD elements. NY-TF1 organization is structured to 
meet the challenges to coordination and collaboration demanded at complex endeavors 
such as USR incidents. The synergy that NY-TF1 realizes is a product of the “edge” 
characteristics it its structure that foster coordination/collaboration between disciplines 
and minimizes organizational uncertainty. 

1. Task Force Tactical Structure 

The structure of the NY-TF1 model leverages a division of labor and a functional 
complimentary effort from both its FDNY and NYPD components. This results in a 
synergy of the combined FDNY-NYPD response to USR operations. Both disciplines 
are equally integrated into search, rescue and support elements which share roles and 
responsibilities for the subordinate tasks in a USR operation. Each task force position 
has an FDNY and an NYPD assigned member. This equity of departmental 
representation on each of the subordinate task force elements (search, rescue and support 
teams) embeds an interdisciplinary design at every operational and supervisory level of 
NY-TF1. Neither the FDNY nor the NYPD has a dominant position in terms of authority 
or team representation during training or deployments. The equality of team composition 
provides task force leaders with teams of analogous capability, training and qualification. 
Whereas in the greater NYC first-responder environment there exists uncertainty and 
distrust with opposing departmental structure and resources, NY-TF1 benefits from 
defined team composition. As a result of this tactical integration, NY-TF1 realizes a joint 
construct benefit in expertise and training from both its FDNY and NYPD contributors. 
Operational missions are divided into more manageable assignments for each search, 
rescue and support element. 


Additionally, each discipline also contributes specific service functional 
capabilities that are critical to mission success without which the task force would be 
significantly degraded. FDNY members educated as civil engineers occupy one of the 
two specialties that do not cross the interagency divide on NY-TF1; the other being the 
NYPD canine search teams. These are the two emergency service special contributions 
that make the NY-TF “whole” better than the sum of its parts. 3 FDNY expertise in 
evaluating structural integrity allows joint FDNY-NYPD search teams, rescue teams and 
support elements to operate in maximum safety. NYPD canine search specialists provide 
efficient and effective identification of possible survivors. The resultant combined NY- 
TF 1 capability is superior to the independent NYC approaches to collapse rescue 
operations. There is a high degree of FDNY-NYPD interaction and superior infonnation 
exchange between discipline specialists and integrated task force teams. The net effect of 
the NY-TF 1 division of labor and the exploitation of each department’s inherent 
discipline strengths produces a synergy of FDNY-NYPD effort unique to the task force. 

The equity found in its tactical structure is mandated for all activation of NY-TF 1. 
It’s search, rescue and support teams are staffed in terms of personnel numbers similar to 
the other 27 FEMA task forces. The defining characteristic of the NY-TF 1 model is the 
further specification for task force composition. Each emergency service discipline 
contributes personnel in accordance to a strict deployment assignment. According to 
NYC Office of Emergency Management directive and depending on operational 
command for an incident, the FDNY and NYPD each comprise approximately half of a 
deploying task force (NYC Office Of Emergency Management, 2004). Furthermore, 
each element of the task force is structured to include each discipline in equal 
proportions. A rescue team of five members, led by an FDNY officer, will have three 
NYPD and two FDNY personnel. A rescue team of five members that is led by an 
NYPD officer will have three FDNY and two NYPD personnel. This strict 
multidiscipline composition imposes a design that demands discipline integration. 

3 The FDNY is designated in NY-TF 1 organizational design as having sole responsibility for filling 
the civil engineering position for structural integrity specialist while the NYPD is responsible to fill the 
canine search team positions required of all FEMA USR task forces. 


Whereas subordinate search, rescue and support teams structured along discipline 
specific lines might compete against one another, the joint team organization found in 
NY-TF1 breeds a camaraderie that is not commonly found in the NYC first-responder 
environment. Mission tasks and objectives create a dependency within the team 
structure. In order to accomplish those tasks and achieve task force objectives, a synergy 
must be established both on each team and between each subordinate task force elements 
(search, rescue, support). Because of the integration of both services at the tactical level, 
there is a resultant high degree of FDNY-NYPD interaction compared to the general 
FDNY-NYPD service relationship. 

Evidence of this structure is contained in the strict deployment guidelines for 
activation of a task force that ensures equal service representation. Each deployment of a 
FEMA task force dictates the exact number of personnel for a deployment. The 
sponsoring agencies, however, determine how the task force positions are assigned. For 
each deployment, NY-TF1 follows the specific assignment in Figure 2 (NYC Office of 
Emergency Management, 2006). If the FDNY is designated as task force leader (TFL), 
as depicted on the left, then there is one less FDNY support member assigned. 
Conversely, if the NYPD is assigned as TFL, as on the right, there is one less NYPD 
support member assigned. This organization maintains equal representation from both 
departments for each mobilization of the task force. At the same time, each discipline is 
integrated with the other at the tactical level. Because of this equal proportional 
structure, task force deployments are not viewed as “FDNY” or “NYPD” deployments, 
but as task force deployments. This design also limits an over-representation from either 
department. The equity in terms of task force positions guards against FDNY or NYPD 
personnel dominance during deployments. The resultant task force deployment structure 
promotes one unit identity and eliminates structural ambiguity that might challenge team 
synergy on NY-TF1. 


FDNY TF Command 


NYPD TF Command 



1 TFL 

1 TFL 

30 Team Members 

32 Team Members 

4 Support Personnel 

4 Support Personnel 



1 TFL 

1 TFL 

32 Team Members 

30 Team Members 

5 Support Personnel 

5 Supp ort Personnel 









Figure 2. Task Force Deployment Allocations (From NYC OEM Directive, 2006/003) 4 

Examining NY-TF1 structure in terms of “edge” principles and the parameters 
that define them, it is clear that the NYC task force is well organized for complex 
endeavors. The disciplinary integration that is central to NY-TF1 embeds a high pattern 
of interaction (POI) between the FDNY and NYPD components. This drives the 
familiarity and trust that SMEs identify as crucial for USR operations. At the same time, 
this structure requires a high degree of information exchange (distribution of information 
or DOI) to achieve the situational awareness required at USR incidents. Both of these 
factors confirm that the NY-TF1 model is applicable to complex endeavor events. The 
greater NYC First-responder community does not have similar POI or DOI 
characteristics and can benefit from these factors if they can be adapted for that 

2. Unity of Command 

The design of NY-TF1 operational command structure fosters task force synergy 
by sharing decision-making authority and eliminating command ambiguity. Since USR 
operations may be required to be conducted on a 24-hour basis in order to maximize 

4 Figure 2 depicts task force deployment positions, but it does not describe operational or tactical 
assignment. NY-TF1 is not tactically organized along departmental lines, as shown in Figure 2. 


rescue possibilities, there are two positions assigned as task force leader (TFL) and each 
of the component leaders; search team, rescue team, and support teams. While there is 
only one designated task force commander for a deployment, there are two TFL positions 
per activation. Similarly, the search, rescue and support teams have two respective team 
managers. This design provides the task force with continuous command supervision if 
two 12-hour shifts are utilized during an operation. When the FDNY has command the 
NYPD sends a similarly qualified representative to occupy the second TFL position. The 
same organizational design functions when the NYPD has operational command. As 
depicted in Figure 3, the two TFL assignments and 10 team manager positions will 
support 24-hour task force operations. When half of NY-TF1 is engaged, the other half is 
resting or preparing for operations. When continuous 24-hour operations are not 
necessary, the second TFL and the second team manager positions perform the roles of 
second-in-command or as an executive officer for the task force and assistant team 
leaders, respectively. In effect, the requirement for two TFL’s produces a unified 
command section between the FDNY and NYPD during all NY-TF1 deployments. This 
unified command results in a broad sharing of decision-making authority between the 
FDNY and NYPD leadership of NY-TF1. The search team and rescue team managers 
who operate under the TFLs recognize that both disciplines substantially contribute to 
task force unified command. This command structure is in stark contrast to the general 
NYC incident command structure where entirely separate tactical command organization 
is employed under nominal unified command. In that emergency management structure, 
there is strictly limited and controlled decision making authority with almost no 
interagency influence. The requirement for continuous operation capability of NY-TF1 
and the designs that support this effort instill synergy between the FDNY and NYPD 
components of the task force. 

NY-TF1 exhibits characteristics here that identify it as an “edge’ organization. 
The task force unity of command structure incorporates a high degree of shared decision¬ 
making authority between disciplines (allocation of decision rights or ADR) and an 
advanced level of discipline interaction {pattern of interaction or POI) between command 


positions. These organizational traits are critical for USR operations and offer direction 
for the greater FDNY-NYPD relationship to build first-responder synergy. 

3. Component Role Definition 

NY-TF1 enjoys component role clarity among its subordinate organizational 
elements not found in the NYC emergency response environment that reinforce task force 
structure and aid information exchange between disciplines. Mission essential tasks 
specific to the three teams of task force structure (search, rescue and support) are 
performed solely by assigned NY-TF1 components. A division of labor for USR 
operations in the subordinate task force structure allows for concentration on separate 
mission essential tasks without redundant organizational waste. There is no duplication 
of duties or effort. Search teams only attempt to locate trapped victims, and rescue teams 
perform removal of identified victims. Support sections focus on-site-safety monitoring 
and medical specialists concentrate on treatment of rescued victims and care for task 
force personnel. This defined mission responsibility eliminates competition between 
components and promotes a more efficient and effective USR effort from the task force. 
Teams and individuals do not operate outside of their assigned role and position. There is 
no equivocality as far as mission responsibilities found in the NY-TF1 model. This is in 
direct contrast to the FDNY-NYPD first-response relationship where both agencies share 
roles and responsibilities for rescue operations. Joint responsibility for emergency 
service operations combined with minimal interagency organization or procedural 
approaches fosters departmental competitiveness and uncertainty between the FDNY and 
NYPD. Consequently, there is substantial duplication of effort at multiagency operations 
involving the FDNY and NYPD. Distrust and unfamiliarity inherent in the general 
FDNY-NYPD relationship with both ability and departmental approaches to rescue 
operations produces separate operational designs and procedures. Adherence to strict 
task force structural assignment eliminates the “battle of the badges” atmosphere and the 
resultant separate service structures and approaches. 


Defining the roles and responsibilities of each task force entity (individual 
position assignments and team responsibilities) eliminates much of the operational 
equivocality and tactical uncertainty found in NYC interagency emergencies. Because all 
participants and leaders understand their position and authority there is no competition or 
division of effort. Individuals and teams must rely on each other in order to accomplish 
the task force mission. Edge entities demand this organizational theme in order for them 
to interact and exchange information internally. Component role definition supports the 
patterns of interaction (POI) and distribution of information (DOI) necessary for 
complex endeavors. This NY-TF1 characteristic offers interesting possibilities for the 
greater FDNY-NYPD relationship. 


Perhaps more influential on task force synergy than its organizational design are 
the operational processes and protocols that NY-TF1 follows both during training and 
deployments. Due to its unique composition of fire service and law enforcement 
disciplines, NY-TF1 has established a number of standard guidelines, both formal and 
informal, that promote task force coordination and collaboration between FDNY and 
NYPD personnel. These SOPs take the form of official, written directives and un-written 
practices that are intended to integrate personnel from the two, sometimes antagonistic 
agencies. And in terms of applicability to the greater FDNY-NYPD response 
relationship, these operational processes may be more replicable than structural changes 
to the organization of either department. Three NY-TF1 processes are central to building 
the interagency effectiveness found on the task force: shared command responsibility, 
interpersonal development, and a common standard operating procedure (SOP). NY-TF1 
systemic processes enhance the three “edge” characteristics {patterns of interaction, 
distribution of information and allocation of decision rights ) that are the foundation of its 
interdisciplinary synergy. These protocols drive the FDNY-NYPD collaborative effort 
that is behind the task forces’ recent successful deployment to Haiti. 


1 . 

Shared Command Responsibility 

Research into the dynamic NY-TF1 processes identified the joint responsibility 
for command as a significant factor for task force synergy. Since command of NY-TF1 
is shared between the FDNY and NYPD, both departments are capable of performing this 
duty when an activation order is received from FEMA. Obviously, only one individual 
can be designated as primary TFL at any given time and this could become an issue that 
inhibits task force collaboration. Competition for command and territoriality are both 
problematic concerns for the greater FDNY-NYPD relationship. This barrier to 
collaboration has been eliminated by NY-TF1 Program Directive 2007-01. This task 
force command protocol established a rotational basis for the assignment of NY-TF1 
command. This official policy written by the program administrator, the NYC Office of 
Emergency Management, alternates the position of TFL between the FDNY and NYPD 
for each deployment of the task force (NYC Office of Emergency Management, 2007). 5 
Rotating responsibility for task force command evenly allocates decision-making rights 
(ADR) and opportunities between both the FDNY and NYPD. At the same time, 
interaction between each discipline (POI) is ensured at the task force command level. 
Since each agency will both command and support the command of the other in 
alternating succession, each must collaborate with the other. Rotating command 
promotes the free-flow of information between disciplines (DOI). This produces better 
situational awareness for tactical operations. Operational efficiency, effectiveness and 
safety are thus enhanced by this high degree of information exchange. As a result, this 
policy’s affect on NY-TF1 is an improved interdisciplinary synergy. 

This edge procedural characteristic of NY-TF1 eliminates command ambiguity 
and shares leadership responsibility between the FDNY and NYPD. In the 
interdepartmental response setting, this is obviously not possible. Incident command for 

5 The NYC Office of Emergency Management is the program administrator for NY-TF1 and is not 
formally in the operational chain of command for the task force. Both the FDNY and NYPD share 
command and control for NY-TF1. Before establishing any program directive, both departments need to 
accept the protocol. 


every emergency cannot be rotated between the FDNY and NYPD, but examining how 
incident command is assigned does have potential direction for the FDNY-NYPD 
response dynamic relationship. 

2. Interpersonal Interaction 

One of the strongest common procedural themes that emerged from both 
emergency service disciplines during this study was the importance of personal 
interaction on NY-TF1. FDNY and NYPD leadership emphasized that much of the team¬ 
building effort is accomplished through “un-official,” unwritten practices. Of the three 
parameters that are central to “edge” organizations, the NY-TF1 pattern of interaction 
between the FDNY and NYPD is the most influential factor in NY-TF1 synergy. Every 
leadership position interviewed in this study referenced that the personal relationships 
and familiarity developed between members of the task force were crucial to the 
coordination and collaboration demonstrated during training and deployments. 
Interaction between disciplines is not only encouraged but mandated by simple practices. 
Integration of FDNY and NYPD personnel is promoted by standard policies involving 
housing/room assignments on deployment and training missions. Each NY-TF1 member 
is required to live with his counterpart from the other department. Out of necessity, this 
results in greater interpersonal familiarity on the task force, a core component of the 
“edge” synergy found in the NY-TF1 model. Uncertainty between rival agencies is 
reduced and much of the equivocality present between individuals is eliminated. 
Understanding individual abilities, expertise, training, strengths and weaknesses provides 
task force command with a better ability to employ the subordinate search, rescue and 
support teams. And the trust that develops between NY-TF1 members creates a bond 
between the emergency services. These bonds and relationships have carried over to the 
inter-service operational environment that the FDNY and NYPD special operations 
resources share with one another. 

An encouraging indication that a similar effect can be developed in the greater 
NYC first-response relationship is the improving professional relationship present in the 


FDNY Special Operations Command and the NYPD Emergency Services Command. 
Both departments’ highly-trained resources expressed agreement that their working 
relationship has substantially improved; a direct product of the pattern of interaction 
found in the operational record of NY-TF1. 

3. Common Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 

Without a commonly accepted language and operational plan, edge organizations 
cannot function; and NY-TF1 is no different. A unifying protocol is required for patterns 
of interaction to develop, for information exchange, and for decisions to be made (ADR). 
The central procedural theme identified as responsible for the synergistic nature of NY- 
TF1 was the official SOP for FEMA USR operations. As presented in the previous 
chapter, the guidelines established in the Urban Search and Rescue Response System 
Operations Manual address the three parameters characteristic of “edge” organizations; 
patterns of interaction, allocation of decision rights, and distribution of information 
(FEMA, 2000b). With the utilization of this protocol, NY-TF1 is able to realize a unique 
synergy between the FDNY and NYPD elements of the task force; a high degree of 
discipline interaction, shared responsibility for decision making, and a broad exchange of 
information. These FEMA procedures eliminate much of the uncertainty and 
equivocality present in the greater FDNY-NYPD relationship. As opposed to the 
divergent approaches to interagency operations employed by the FDNY and NYPD, 
operating under one, common standard protocol unifies fire and law enforcement 
disciplines into one operational entity. The federal USR guidelines achieve (FEMA, 

• A truly unified command section that has full knowledge and situational 
awareness of its resources and how best to deploy them. [TF command 
uncertainty is eliminated.] 

• A common tactical incident action plan. All subordinate elements and 
individuals understand both their position in the overarching plan and 
what their responsibilities in that plan comprise. [Tactical equivocality is 


• An atmosphere of personal trust is fostered. [Individual uncertainty is 
reduced as interaction between disciplines increases. Common experience 
built between TF members breeds confidence in ability, capability and 
responsibility for task accomplishment.] 

Given that the primary procedural theme that fosters NY-TF1 collaboration is the 
unified command system, the federal USR standard procedures can be understood to be 
the tactical framework used under that command. 


Applying the social science concepts of edge organizations, we can evaluate 
where the NY-TF1 model of command and control (C2) stands in relation to the greater 
FDNY-NYPD response C2 dynamic relationship. Figure 3 describes the C2 “maturity” 
of each model according to the degree of information sharing (z-axis), discipline 
interaction (y-axis) and the allocation of authority through decision making rights (x- 
axis). This graph depicts the superiority of the NY-TF1 model over the greater FDNY- 
NYPD response relationship in terms of C2 maturity. Using these three metrics, the 
FDNY-NYPD relationship is defined as “conflicted” as earlier established in this study. 
This is characterized by a rigid hierarchy of independent commands, poor infonnation 
flow and significantly slower ability to achieve situational awareness of an incident. This 
produces slower and less effective decision-making. An “edge” organization such as the 
NY-TF1 model has substantially more C2 “maturity.” Because of a greater degree of 
discipline interaction, a broad allocation of decision rights between both disciplines, and 
a high degree of situational awareness achieved from a significantly better information 
exchange, the NY-TF1 C2 maturity is measurably better than the general FDNY-NYPD 
C2 dynamic relationship. 

The organizational designs and processes discussed earlier in this chapter are the 
reasons for the better C2 maturity found in the NY-TF1 model. The NY-TF1 command 
and control (C2) ability demonstrates characteristics of an “edge” organization. .As such, 
NY-TF1 has a greater ability to gather and process infonnation, establish a better 
understanding of situational developments, make more effective decisions and 


communicate instructions in a more efficient manner. This trait, referred to as C2 
“agility,” is essential in complex endeavors like the Mumbai terrorist attacks (Alberts & 
Nissen, 2009). Supporting evidence for this finding is presented in the discussion of 
interviews conducted during this study (see Appendix B). 

Figure 3. NYC First-responder C2 Approach Space (From Alberts & Nissen 2009) 6 

Note: The depiction of exact positioning on the graph is an approximation 
because of the qualitative nature behind the NYC first-responder C2 approach space. 
Precision in terms of placement in the model would require quantitative metrics that are 
not available to describe complex endeavors or “edge” social science theory. For this 
reason, depiction in the graph is not an exact point, but a general placement in relation to 
other entities. 

6 The NYC first-responder C2 approach space graph (Figure 3) charts the maturity of C2 ability for 
depicted entities. The x-axis ranges from limited to broad decision-making authority (A-B), the y-axis 
ranges from no interaction to high integration (A-C), and the z-axis ranges from limited information 
sharing to high level of information exchange (C-D). 




The qualitative nature of this research project presents challenges in evaluating 
the effectiveness of NY-TF1 synergy. Synergy between emergency service disciplines 
does not have firm metrics to use when comparing how entities coordinate and 
collaborate together. Furthermore, in the field of emergency interagency operations there 
has not been significant study regarding collaborative response to complex events. This 
is particularly true in the NYC emergency service environment. 

In the process of researching the NY-TF1 model, a general understanding of how 
synergy between the FDNY and NYPD elements was formulated from operations 
manuals, after-action reports, newspaper articles and mainstream media reporting. The 
evidence to support this appreciative inquiry of NY-TF1 synergy was obtained through 
command level interviews of leadership on the task force. Three levels of command 
were interviewed for their real-world knowledge of NY-TF1 organization, policies, 
procedures, tactics, and operational achievement. Additionally, an objective third-party 
subject-matter-expert, the NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) NY-TF1 
Program Director was included in the pool of interviews. Participants in these interview 
sessions included tactical, operational and headquarters command supervisors from each 
agency (FDNY and NYPD) as well as the senior OEM administrator. Two rescue team 
managers, two task force leaders, two headquarters staff chiefs and the civilian 
administrator provided qualitative data that has confirmed the synergistic elements 
asserted in this thesis regarding the NY-TF1 model. The participants in this study have 
intimate experience with and knowledge of the NYC task force, its history and its recent 
achievements, especially with regard to the deployment to the 2010 Haitian earthquake. 
Formally scripted questions were asked of each participant that referenced their first- 
person experience with the task force and/or their active participation on deployments. 
Unscripted questions were added during the interview process when pertinent 
information related to this study presented itself. 

During the course of this research project, it was discovered that the collaborative 
nature of the NY-TF1 model is presently moving a selected FDNY-NYPD response 


relationship in a positive direction. As referenced earlier, this has become apparent in the 
respective Special Operations Command/Division units in the FDNY and NYPD. 
Membership on the task force has created interaction in the collaborative NY-TF1 
environment during training and operational periods that have benefited the relationship 
between both departments’ special operations units. The resultant effect is a more 
cohesive and collaborative emergency service relationship between FDNY and NYPD 
Special Operations units at NYC interagency operations. The natural question that arises 
from this observation is: Can this relationship fostered in the NY-TF1 model be 
applicable in an appreciable degree to the common FDNY-NYPD response framework? 
It is the first-responder (firefighter or police officer) who is first to confront a complex 
endeavor like the Mumbai attacks, not the highly-trained special operations personnel. 
Furthermore, since Special Operations resources from both departments may not be 
available due to the scale and scope of a complex endeavor, the FDNY and NYPD units 
first on the scene may be the only resources confronting a Mumbai-style event. It is the 
NY-TF1 collaborative, organizational designs and processes that foster a synergistic 
response. The following common themes identify synergistic factors that can be applied 
to the greater FDNY-NYPD response relationship. 

1. Common Themes 

There were seven standard, scripted questions presented to each participant in this 
study. Each participant was asked to begin with a brief description of their professional 
career and their specific experience with the NY-TF1 program. Following this 
introduction, each interview followed the written question format contained in Appendix 
A. Information that was relevant to this study generated from these formal questions is 
referenced in Appendix A. 

The raw data collected is analyzed in Appendix B. Each interview is reviewed 
and coded to identify qualitative themes that emerged from each participant. The 
collaborative factors that contribute to the synergistic nature found in the NY-TF1 model 
were consistent with documentation presented earlier and through all interviews 


conducted during this research project. Four common themes critical to NY-TF1 
interagency effectiveness were identified from the interview participants: defined role 
and responsibility clarity, common standard organizational structure and procedure, 
discipline and interpersonal interaction and unified command. These specific findings 
are expanded upon below. 

a. Defined Understanding of NY-TF1 Team and Individual Roles 
and Responsibilities Contributes to Operational Clarity 

Emergency response to large-scale, multi-discipline incidents like USR 
operations or terrorist attacks, both complex endeavors, involves an array of tactical and 
command approaches from disparate agencies. It is clear that there is ample opportunity 
for duplication of effort, poor exchange of infonnation and an overall inefficient use of 
resources at such incidents. NY-TF1 reduces or eliminates much of the inherent 
uncertainty that characterize complex endeavors through the strict adherence to specified 
roles and responsibilities assigned to each task force position and team. Battalion Chief 
Joe Downey, FDNY, directly attributes the NY-TF1 effectiveness to collaboration 
derived from the “definition that the respective task force teams have for every assigned 
role and position” (personal communication, October 13, 2010). Deputy Inspector 
Robert Lukach, NYPD, supported this assessment in referencing the 2010 Haiti 
deployment. During rescue operations conducted at the MHQ/Christopher Hotel, “all 
NY-TF1 teams and task force members knew their job description and followed it; there 
was no point where task force personnel operated outside the scope of their assigned 
duties” (R. Lukach, personal conversation, November 11, 2010). Both task force leaders 
agreed that there was none of the operational uncertainty during NY-TF1 operations that 
is found at many interagency incidents. Captain Liam Flaherty, FDNY, supported these 
TFL assessments regarding defined USR roles and responsibilities. As a rescue team 
manager, Captain Flaherty had witnessed in Haiti how acceptance of the task force 
division of labor and utilization of functional complimentary skills fostered a collective 
task force synergy (personal conversation, November 2, 2010). According to Captain 
Flaherty, the respect of position roles and responsibilities reduced operational waste in 


terms of manpower, time and equipment. This reduced replication of effort and it 
coordinated all disciplines toward the common objective, the successful rescue of six 
trapped occupants from collapsed Haitian structures. 

b. Common SOP and Organizational Structure Eliminates 
Discipline Uncertainty Between Services and Provides a 
Foundation for Collaboration 

Response assignments and tactical protocols for interagency incidents in 
NYC can vary from department to department, and even from within one department 
depending upon several factors. Time of day, resource availability, staffing levels, and 
other factors can influence what equipment, personnel and units arrive at the scene of a 
complex endeavor that requires a joint emergency service operation. Chief James 
Molloy, NYPD, commented that there are a maximum of ten ESU units on an ordinary 
shift and “availability on any given day can be affected by dispatch assignments, training 
requirements or other law enforcement duties” (personal conversation, November 5, 
2010). The NYPD response assignment to a collapsed structure can vary depending on 
these factors. While the FDNY response assignment to collapses is more formal, it too 
can be affected by similar factors such as time of day, location and resource availability. 
Consequently, the capabilities and tactical approaches to each incident can take various 
direction and format. Additionally, both departments use independent procedures for 
interagency incidents under a nominal unified command. Neither of these protocols 
address outside agencies except as supporting players. The NY-TF1 approach to USR 
incidents adheres to both a common organizational structure and a common SOP. 
Captain Flaherty, FDNY, identified task force operational procedures that are governed 
by the FEMA guidance are a major contributing factor in the synergy that NY-TF1 

c. Personnel and Discipline Interaction Is the Most Significant 
Factor in Fostering Task Force Synergy 

Under normal circumstances, in the course of an average tour of duty, the 

emergency services in NYC generally operate only in supporting roles at incidents that 


are almost universally the domain of the respective departments. Structural fires are 
managed exclusively by FDNY elements. Crime scene investigations are conducted 
entirely by NYPD resources; and so on. Adding to this perspective, the relative 
infrequency of major interagency events only magnifies the lack of substantial interaction 
between the FDNY and NYPD. The isolating effect of this lack of interaction is found at 
virtually every level: command, operational, tactical and interpersonal. Every study 
participant touched upon this factor as a barrier to interdepartmental collaboration. 

Service interaction and the personal relationships that are the product of 
that interaction reduce individual uncertainties with respect for qualification, experience 
and the ability of rival service members. All study participants referenced the 
“familiarity” generated on NY-TF1 between the FDNY and NYPD components during 
training exercises and deployments. Lieutenant Franco Barbiero, NYPD, spoke to this 
point as a rescue team manager with experience from 2010 Haiti: 

Interaction of task force members develops a trust factor that runs 
throughout the NY-TF1 model. The knowledge that each man 
understands his position and how to accomplish specific tasks develops a 
trust among members that filters down from the TFL. (F. Barbiero, 
personal conversation, November 18, 2010) 

The net effect is that task force members are comfortable working with 
each other regardless of departmental affiliation outside of the team. This synergy 
fostering factor has developed over time through numerous service interactive 
opportunities. The informal relationships built on NY-TF1 are the bond that the 
collective task force synergy rests upon. 

d. Unified Command System and Shared Decision-Making 
Authority Provide the Conditions That Are Favorable for NY- 
TF1 Collaboration 

The NYC interpretation of the National Incident Command System (ICS) 

does not fully mandate or realize a collaborative effort from the FDNY and NYPD. 

Acting Deputy Chief Fred Lafamina, FDNY (retired), echoed the sentiments of both 

emergency service interview participants that CIMS does not enforce the operational 


integration of resources required for complex, interagency incidents (personal 
conversation, December 1, 2010). The NYC interagency protocol only loosely combines 
emergency service commanders in a challenged, joint incident command protocol. The 
operational resources of each first-responder agency still maintain divergent tactical 
approaches at multiagency emergencies. Both Chief Lafamina, FDNY, and Lieutenant 
Barbiero, NYPD, agreed that the Unified Command Structure and ICS protocol utilized 
by NY-TF1 are applicable to complex endeavors and promote task force collaboration (F. 
Barbiero, personal conversation, November 18, 2010; F. Lafamina, personal 
conversation, December 9, 2010). These men from different command levels and 
disciplines affirmed that unified command procedures and shared decision-making 
authority could be leveraged in the greater FDNY-NYPD relationship. 

NY-TF1 is able to realize the collaborative effort required for USR 
operations due to the shared allocation of decision rights between its FDNY and NYPD 
components. Battalion Chief Downey, FDNY, described much of tactical decision¬ 
making involved at USR operations as incident specific requiring the contribution of all 
disciplines’ expertise. Interdisciplinary “group discussion” drives much of the tactical 
direction found on the task force (J. Downey, personal conversation, October 13, 2010). 
Because of this joint-effort understanding, each emergency discipline is considered as an 
equal stakeholder in NY-TF1 operations. This paradigm cultivates the collaboration 
required by complex endeavors. 

2. Summary 

There was a general consensus among all study participants that the current 
interdepartmental response relationship between the FDNY and NYPD is vastly 
improved in comparison with that of pre-9/11. Particularly encouraging was the common 
opinion espoused by every interviewee that the professional relationship between FDNY 
Special Operations Command units and NYPD Emergency Service Command units is 
significantly more collaborative than the greater first responder relationship. This is 
partly a direct result of the existence of the NY-TF1 program. 


There was less uniformity of opinion concerning the applicability of the NY-TF1 
synergy factors to a complex endeavor similar to a Mumbai event. While all interview 
subjects agreed that NY-TF1 organizational design and systemic process could positively 
influence the greater FDNY-NYPD relationship, there were differing opinions as to the 
applicability to specific complex endeavors like an active-shooter incident on the scale of 
2008 Mumbai. The senior NYPD participant, Chief James Molloy, suggested that a 
Mumbai incident in NYC requires improving interdepartmental knowledge and trust 
through joint agency education (personal communication, November 5, 2010). Chief 
James Molloy sees the answer to the challenges of such an event in terms of eliminating 
uncertainty between the disciplines; unfamiliarity with corresponding procedures and 
response protocols are the major stumbling block to collaboration of the services. 
Battalion Chief Joseph Downey, FDNY, shares the same appraisal of first-responder 
synergy challenges, but in his view, a response to a Mumbai-style incident will require 
interagency relationships characteristic of the ones found in the NY-TF1 model (personal 
communication, October 13, 2010). The underlying theme drawn from these interviews 
was that minimizing the level of uncertainty and equivocality between the FDNY and 
NYPD in preparation for responding to a complex endeavor would substantially improve 
the effectiveness of such a response. The exact formula of NY-TF1 collaborative factors 
that reduces interdepartmental uncertainty and equivocality requires further study. 



Indeed, for any complex situation anywhere in the world, it’s become 
obvious that there is no one authority—whether in the form of a leader, an 
organization, a command operation, or a rescue squad—that can single- 
handedly save the day. 


(Gerencser, M., Kelly, C., Napolitano, F., & Vann Lee, R., 2008, p. 26) 


This study explored the evolving challenges facing first-responders and how their 
standard approaches to incident management are no longer sufficient to meet a current 
threat which spans both jurisdiction and disciplines. This thesis investigated the following 
research question: What can we learn from NYTF-1, and how might it be utilized as the 
foundation for a nation-wide model? Having established that the NYC first-responder 
relationship does not currently possess the collaborative ability to effectively confront a 
complex endeavor similar to a Mumbai attack, secondary questions focused on the 
organizational/operational level designs and systemic processes found in the NYC urban 
search and rescue model (NY-TF1) that reduce uncertainty and equivocality effects 
among responding agencies thereby contributing to a more coordinated and collaborative 
relationship between FDNY and NYPD personnel. Taking the NY-TF1 structures and 
processes as best-practice examples of interagency synergies at a complex endeavor, this 
thesis has confirmed that these NY-TF1 practices and designs can significantly improve 
the greater FDNY-NYPD response dynamic. 

Reducing the inherent uncertainties present in complex endeavors is critical for 
the NYC emergency services. Exploiting the chaotic challenges to response 
collaboration are part of the operational intent that today’s Islamic extremist groups hope 
to capitalize on. While the operational “fog of war” can never be eliminated, its effect on 
responding agencies can be mitigated. To achieve an optimal level of emergency 


response effectiveness all first-responder organizations in NYC must increase their 
collaborative capabilities to operate in an unprecedented, extremely chaotic environment. 
This will necessitate breeding a familiarity in the greater FDNY-NYPD response 
dynamic that does not presently exist. The qualitative evidence collected from subject- 
matter-experts in this study supports transforming the FDNY-NYPD relationship with 
synergy fostering elements (“edge” C2 principles) found in the NY-TF1 model of 
command and control in uncertain environments. 

NYC shares the risk of a Mumbai-style attack occurring with every other major 
metropolitan area in the United States. Some of the dynamic relationships between their 
respective fire service and law enforcement organizations found in these analogous 
communities have better response synergy and some are worse. However, all U.S. first- 
response communities are faced with a common foe; the radical Islamist extremist groups 
that will use chaos and operational uncertainty to disguise objectives, delay the 
establishment of incident situational awareness, and disrupt first-response efforts and 
countermeasures. This will provide attackers with increased opportunity to maximize 
body-counts and serious injuries. Regardless of a municipality’s first-responder 
cohesiveness, there will be common interoperability issues between fire service and law 
enforcement agencies similar to the ones discussed in this thesis. Every American urban 
community will benefit from improved collaboration between emergency disciplines. 
While we cannot prevent a detennined attack, we can mitigate its damage by fostering 
emergency services synergy between the organizations that will undoubtedly be the first 
to face this enemy. 



The organizational divide between NYC’s fire and police departments is 
influenced by historical rivalries, command structural differences, cultural disparities and 
conflicting operational interests during the simplest interagency operations. During 
chaotic events that this thesis predicts, these organizational divides will be magnified by 
the inherent uncertainties of complex endeavors unless steps are taken to bridge this 


interdepartmental gap. If NYC can more closely align the operational response of its 
first-response agencies it will be better prepared for an optimal response to a Mumbai- 
style terror attack. This thesis has identified the concept of “edge” command and control 
principles which leverage NY-TF1 organizational designs and systemic processes to 
achieve that optimal response. Edge C2 principles “optimize” first-responder efforts and 
not simply “maximize” the response of the FDNY and NYPD. Complex endeavors are 
beyond the reach of either agency and require a C2 system based on edge principles, 
“pooling capabilities and optimizes the benefit of criss-crossing agendas, instead of 
maximizing their own individual agendas” (Gerencser et ah, 2008, p. 86). The 
megacommunitiy concept is such a system that edge principles will support. 

New York City currently possesses a latent megacommunity among its 
emergency services that is poised to realize a synergy of fire service and law enforcement 
disciplines. The term megacommunity “is based on the idea that communities of 
organizations...have deliberately come together across organizational and sectoral 
boundaries to reach the goals they cannot reach alone” (Gerencser et ah, 2008, p. 28). A 
NYC first-responder megacommunity is not simply a larger organizational structural 
approach, an FDNY-NYPD megacommunity deliberately joins both agencies around the 
common threat facing NYC (a Mumbai-style attack) and follows the “edge” practices and 
principles that make it easier for them to achieve an optimal response. This is 
accomplished without sacrificing their independent goals or identities. Using the NY- 
TF1 edge principles of tactical operational integration, unified incident command 
responsibility and increased situational awareness development will move NYC toward a 
megacommunity of emergency services. 

These following recommendations are focused on achieving the emergency 
services synergy developed in this thesis by leveraging the edge characteristics identified 
in the NY-TF1 model. 


1 . 

Promote FDNY-NYPD Operational Interaction 

This recommendation is intended for the strategic leadership of both the FDNY 
and NYPD. Senior departmental commanders need to encourage and facilitate an 
increase in agency interaction in the individual and collective spheres. The collaborative 
strengths and interdisciplinary synergy of the NY-TF1 command and control model stem 
from the strong personal interactions between the FDNY and NYPD components. The 
word “familiarity” was used numerous times by every interview subject when referencing 
the roots of NY-TFl’s synergistic properties. A formal, joint FDNY-NYPD structure is 
not a practical suggestion for the vast majority of emergencies that occur in NYC. The 
discipline specific nature most first-response operations demands that NYC emergency 
services remain distinct and separate; however, there is a real need to integrate the FDNY 
and NYPD on a fundamental/operational level. The current NYC interagency approach 
does not promote such interaction. The CIMS interagency protocol does not mandate a 
unified tactical approach for interdepartmental operations. It only requires the use of a 
“nominal” unified command for some incidents. Interdisciplinary events under the 
simplest circumstances demand the coordination and collaboration of all tactical as well 
as command elements. Moreover, the lack of operational interaction between the FDNY 
and NYPD, outside of the Special Operations environment, fosters an operational divide 
and discipline isolation that retards first-responder synergy from developing. During a 
complex endeavor similar to a Mumbai attack, these challenges will become more 
problematic if not insurmountable without substantial loss of life. 

The remedy for this synergy challenge is greater departmental interaction at all 
levels. Each front-line FDNY firefighter should operationally understand his 
corresponding counterpart patrolling in an NYPD sector car, and vice-versa. First-line 
supervisors, fire lieutenants and police sergeants need a fundamental understanding of 
corresponding departmental interagency procedures and response assignments. FDNY 
and NYPD commanders need to be technically and tactically proficient with interagency 
protocols and be familiar with command counterparts in corresponding response areas. It 
is not necessary for a first-name relationship to develop, although this would be 


beneficial, but increased interdepartmental exposure will reduce organizational and 
operational uncertainties. NYC firefighters and police officers need to attain a 
“familiarity” with each others’ approach to incident tactics and management as well as 
build an interagency expertise at all levels. 

These interactions can be promoted through two interdepartmental initiatives to 
bring the FDNY and NYPD into closer contact. 

a. “True” Interdisciplinary Drills for the Greater FDNY and NYPD 

The majority of interdepartmental training activities focus on Special 
Operations units that already enjoy a greater familiarity and interaction with each other. 
A chaotic complex endeavor will quickly strip NYC of its Special Operations resources 
and require the first-to-arrive emergency responders to collaborate in ways they have 
never experienced. Only by fostering interaction between local firefighters and local 
police officers will a more synergistic relationship be able to form. 

b. Expand the FDNY-NYPD Liaison Program 

The extent of full-time liaison positions between the two departments 
consists of one FDNY captain working at NYPD headquarters and one NYPD captain 
working at FDNY headquarters. This is grossly insufficient. Information exchanges, 
command relationships and the personal interactions that are the hallmarks of the NY- 
TF1 model are absent in the present FD-PD liaison program. Furthermore, effective 
interagency discourse needs to be brought beyond the headquarters level to the 
operational level of emergency service response. An interagency liaison program that 
exchanged supervisors from the operational level of each department will significantly 
increase interdepartmental interaction for senior leadership levels of each service. This 
initiative can be modeled on the inter-service exchange of officers between the U.S. 
military branches. All senior commanders of each military service are required to 
perform a period of service with another military branch to broaden their individual 


professional development. A similar program in the NYC emergency services would 
promote interdepartmental interaction necessary for first-responder synergy. 

c. Interdepartmental Training Exchanges 

The U.S. military routinely selects service members of one branch for 
attendance in another’s professional development and skill qualification courses. This 
practice is also found in the NY-TF1 model. Task force members are expected to seek 
additional qualification and leadership training that exposes them to skills and expertise 
found outside of their parent discipline. This fosters the familiarity that has been 
identified as central to the NY-TF1 synergistic environment. At the same time, task force 
members become deployable in several USR positions. This increases the readiness of 
the task force for activation. NYC should explore sending personnel from one 
emergency service discipline to the complimentary training offered by the opposite 
department. FDNY firefighters can leam the fundamental requirements of law 
enforcement operations and NYPD patrol officers can learn basic tactics for structural 
firefighting. This interaction will promote a common understanding between the services 
and build interpersonal relationships that are the core of NY-TF1 synergy. 

Greater interaction between the FDNY and NYPD will effectively 
minimize much of the uncertainty presently in existence between the two departments. 
Understanding the companion discipline’s objectives, procedure and approach is the first 
step in establishing a familiarity between the FDNY and NYPD. Expansion of 
interdepartmental exercises around complex endeavors and increasing the exchange of 
liaisons between departments will foster interagency familiarity. Increasing the 
opportunity for FDNY and NYPD interaction will build FDNY-NYPD synergy with a 
positive effect in the three edge parameters: 

• Patterns of interaction: The only way to develop the familiarity and trust 
that interdisciplinary synergy requires is for the two departments to 
develop an individual and organizational understanding of each other. 
These three initiatives will generate that interaction. 


• Distribution of information Edge organizations exhibit a free flow of 
information. This is directly dependent on the familiarity resultant of a 
high degree of interaction. As the FDNY and NYPD become more 
closely aligned, the barriers to information exchange will shrink. 

• Allocation of decision rights Increased interaction at the operational level 
of supervision will foster the unified command necessary for edge 
organizations. Departmental isolation and independent tactical divergence 
will be minimized if lower levels of tactical interaction are mandated. 

Promoting increase interaction between the FDNY and NYPD will 
prepare the NYC first-responder community for the challenges of a complex endeavor. 
The interdisciplinary familiarity that results will be the foundation the collaboration that 
will be required to optimal respond when a Mumbai-style event comes to NYC. 

2. Create a NYC First-Responder Interagency Advisory Panel 

This recommendation is intended to integrate high-level leadership positions of 
both departments into a collective working group. A joint panel of senior departmental 
representatives needs to be empowered to examine the challenges that complex 
endeavors pose for FDNY-NYPD collaborative response. A First-Responder Interagency 
Advisory Panel should resemble the present advisory forum used in the city of Fondon, 
England. The Fondon Emergency Services Fiaison Panel (FESFP) was created in 1977 
and consisted of key agency leaders from each branch of Fondon’s emergency services as 
well as representatives from supporting governmental agencies (FESFP, 2007). This 
group of senior staff from each the Fondon law enforcement athorities, the Fondon Fire 
Brigade, the Fondon Ambulance Service and other important entities was fonned to 
develop an interagency operations protocol for major incidents ocurring inside of Fondon 
that require an interdisciplinary, interjurisdictional response. The FESFP meets every 
three months to review current initiatives, discuss recent issues and assess the current 
state of interdepartmental responses. 

NYC needs a similar entity that can not only evaluate the present 
interdepartmental environment, but also explore solutions for FDNY-NYPD synergy 
obstacles. A First-Responder Advisory Panel can take the collaborative designs and 


processes found in the NY-TF1 model and adapt them to the greater NYC emergency 
service community. This panel needs to meet regularly. The CIMS protocol was created 
from a committee of subject-matter-experts but has not been reviewed or ammended 
since its inception in 2005. The evolving nature of terrorism demands and corresponding 
evolution in emergency response approaches. Only an active examination and adaptation 
of the NYC interagency protocol will be able to keep pace with such a threat. 

A NYC version of the London interservice response panel will affect the FDNY- 
NYPD interdepartmental relationship on the three levels critical for “edge” organizations 
to be synergistic. 

• Patterns of interaction: A higher degree of interaction between top 
commanders in a common goal will generate, over time, the requisite 
familiarity among the leaders of the FDNY and NYPD. The NY-TF1 
model shows that the personal relations and departmental interaction will 
result in a more collaborative environment. 

• Distribution of information: Departmental SMEs who are in senior level 
leadership are those most infonned and empowered to influence agency 
policy and structure. The free exchange of information, as seen in the 
NY-TF1 model, between top leaders will eliminate interdepartmental 
equivocality and more closely align department commanders and 
operational leaders. 

• Allocation of decision rights : Engaging key leaders in the decision¬ 
making process that assess, creates and reviews the NYC emergency 
service relationship will empower these leaders as stakeholders in the 
ultimate product. This will foster a commitment behind this initiative. A 
key-factor in the success of NY-TF1 is agency “buy-in,” a First- 
Responder Advisory Panel will replicate this departmental “buy-in” in the 
greater FDNY-NYPD community. 

This recommendation will formally integrate key leaders of each department and 
create a common operational procedure for large-scale interagency operations, both 
common themes in the NY-TF1 model. The resultant definition in operational protocol 
and organizational role clarity will reduce uncertainties presently challenging the NYC 
emergency response framework. 



Establish Formalized Unified Command for All Interagency Incidents 

This recommendation is intended for the First-Responder Interagency Advisory 
Panel. A joint FDNY-NYPD committee needs to examine the current CIMS interagency 
response procedure. This group must strive to resolve command and operational 
equivocality. The current interagency protocol (CIMS) is too ambitious and vague. 
Under CIMS, all emergencies are assigned to a specific emergency service without 
mandating specified roles and organizational responsibilities. CIMS needs to focus on 
the specific challenges presented by complex endeavors. While no protocol can be 
applied equally in all scenarios and solve every operational challenge, there is substantial 
room for clarifying the present relationship. CIMS needs to be substantially rewritten to 
achieve clarity of departmental purpose and operational responsibility. 

Unified incident command with a joint operational approach is demanded by 
complex endeavors. NYC needs to formally establish a clear and defined interagency 
incident management system similar to the one employed in the NY-TF1 model. Sharing 
decision-making responsibility at major incidents does not demand equity in command 
authority. Discipline specific incidents should remain in the sphere of each service (law 
enforcement needs to drive counter-terror decisions, etc.), but there needs to be an 
inclusion in the process not found under the present CIMS protocol. In terms of the 
“edge” characteristics for this recommendation: 

• Patterns of interaction: Fonnalized unified command will mandate 
inclusion in the decision-making process and eliminate unilateral 
approaches to interagency incidents. Establishing this protocol will 
increase command interaction at the tactical, operational and staff levels. 

• Distribution of information: Unified command allows input from all stake¬ 
holders at a multi-discipline operation. SMEs from each emergency 
service can contribute expertise and technical knowledge that may 
significantly impact command decisions. The end product is a more 
effective and robust incident management synergy. 

• Allocation of decision rights : Incorporating input for decision-making 
throughout the organizational spectrum of command (tactical, operational, 
staff) will benefit the entire operation. Technical proficiencies and tactical 
expertise can positively influence the collaboration between the FDNY 
and NYPD at interagency incidents. 


NY-TF1 is a command inclusive organization and this directly contributes to the 
interdisciplinary synergy of the task force. Real joint leadership of interagency 
operations integrates disciplines and ensures that interaction between agencies is realized 
on the operational level. Command and operational uncertainties are minimized and 
synergy between disciplines is fostered. Under CIMS, only a nominal joint command is 
created and does not flow down to an operational setting. This needs to be replicated in 
the NYC emergency incident approach for major operations at complex endeavors. 


The above recommendations assume an agreement that the NYC dynamic 
emergency response relationship needs modification. There is no such consensus in the 
FDNY-NYPD hierarchy at this time. While there is common agreement that a Mumbai- 
style active-shooter event will present new response priorities, there is a wide spectrum of 
opinion regarding how to approach those priorities. Table-top command exercises have 
identified many of the issues discussed in this paper, but to date there has been no 
substantive movement toward the collaborative relationship necessary for an optimal 
response. 7 

The interview process during this study identified a “buy-in” challenge in aligning 
both departments in a joint response to an incident envisioned in this thesis. From the 
FDNY perspective, some department leaders see terrorism as a law enforcement 
responsibility with little role for the fire service. Conversely, there are some in the law 
enforcement community that feel that the NYPD can unilaterally respond to a Mumbai 
event in NYC without support from other agencies. The NYPD Commissioner’s 
testimony before the U.S. Senate about the Mumbai attacks never mentioned “outside” 
agencies and implied that the NYPD could address all operational issues that were faced 
at the Indian incident (Unites States Senate, 2009). Based on the data collected from the 
SMEs chosen for this study, these opinions are inaccurate and potentially 

7 Five FDNY-NYPD interagency command table-top exercises conducted between May and 
September 2009 were observed by the author. These were conducted by the FDNY and attended by 
headquarters staff from each of the five boroughs in NYC. 


counterproductive. Both NYC emergency services command structures (FDNY and 
NYPD) need to form a common understanding of the threat they are currently facing and 
the joint operational requirements such an event will produce. This must start at the top 
and be disseminated throughout each department. This is the first step that needs to be 
taken in order to build the requisite response synergy. The participants in this project 
have all agreed that this is a first-order task that may hinder the recommendations 
previously discussed. 


The passage of time and the illusion of distance are significant challenges in 
understanding the nature and relevance of the threat facing major urban centers in the 
United States. Every day that passes without a successful terror attack inside of U.S. 
territory contributes to the malaise and indifference that many Americans share in 
perceiving the threat of Islamic extremism. The sense of security presently shared in 
America is an illusion and must be resisted by those tasked with responding to domestic 
terror events. This nation depends upon our military to prevent this extremist threat from 
directly reaching our shores; however, when terrorism does arrive, Americans look to the 
nation’s first-responders for protection from the consequences of a successful attack. The 
U.S. government cannot be 100 percent effective in eliminating this threat. Since 2001, 
the question has never been about “if,” but “when and where” it will arise next. Just as 
inevitable will be the response of our cities’ emergency services. It is unacceptable that 
we do not take every opportunity to prepare them for this eventuality. 

A complex endeavor on the scale and scope similar to 2008 Mumbai will seek to 
foment uncertainties in order to achieve attacker objectives. Disrupting the immediate 
response of emergency services will be of critical importance to terrorists. The 
organizational and operational divisions between the fire service and law enforcement 
communities will be used against us if we allow attackers to magnify their effect. 


Fostering a synergy of effort among first-responders through the utilization of “edge” C2 
principles will prevent divisions between emergency service disciplines from 
incapacitating the initial response to a Mumbai-style event. 

The next step in preparing emergency services to realize a synergistic relationship 
is to expand the first-responder focus. All emergency services and jurisdictions in the 
New York and New Jersey metropolitan area need to be engaged in the NYC first- 
responder megacommunity. This thesis focused on the FDNY-NYPD dynamic response 
relationship to identify collaborative elements, but there is a wider array of response 
organizations in this geographical space. The New York-New Jersey Port Authority 
Police, the Department of Defense Police and U.S. military, the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, the 11 volunteer fire departments inside of NYC and many more members 
of the New York City emergency services community should be involved in a joint 
solution for a complex response to the attack envisioned in this paper. These 
organizations, as well as the private-sector, have different resources and responsibilities 
that can improve and/or hamper the overall collaborative response effort. This situation is 
replicated in every major urban community across America. Further study in the totality 
of a geographic region’s response resources and challenges needs to be done. 
Additionally, research needs to address how localities can support each other. Terrorism 
seeks to identify and exploit seams in the defense against it. Collaboration between 
communities can use the synergistic elements identified in this thesis to better position 
them for an optimal response to the unthinkable. 




Seven subject-matter-experts (SME) were chosen for this study; three key leaders 
from each emergency service discipline (FDNY and NYPD) and one, third-party civilian 
(OEM) who is currently the NY-TF1 program director. Most of the SMEs have first¬ 
hand knowledge and experience working on the team. All study participants have been 
in their current positions since at least 2006. 

Three FDNY and three NYPD officers were selected to represent the three 
organic levels of command on the task force; those being tactical, operational and 
headquarters staff level supervisors. Each of these leadership positions contributes a 
separate perspective of NY-TFl’s collaborative nature. The tactical level SMEs, the 
team managers, are responsible for the specific search or technical rescue missions. 
These positions offer direct evidential information regarding interpersonal relations 
between the two emergency disciplines. Team managers are the leaders who directly 
supervise identifying victim locations and their removal. The operational level SMEs, 
the task force leaders (TFL), contribute evidence of how the two disciplines factor into 
collective NY-TF1 success. TFLs are responsible to select task force members, develop 
training standards and assume the role of NY-TF1 commander during exercises and real- 
world deployments. Staff level SMEs, senior headquarters supervisors, are directly 
responsible for providing support to the task force offer evidence of NY-TF1 
collaboration from an executive management perspective. Each of the study subjects has 
had at least one deployment with the exception of the NYPD staff level SME. Most have 
held more than one position (task force technician, team manager, TFL) during their 
involvement with NY-TF1. These six individuals are the source of the data from which 
this thesis’ conclusions are drawn. 

The one civilian SME chosen for this study was the senior administrator for the 
NY-TF1 program. This position works for neither the FDNY nor NYPD and is 


responsible for coordinating support requirements (budget, logistics, etc.) as well as 
creating program directives that govern task force procedures and policy. With the 
agreement of both the FDNY and NYPD, this NYC Office of Emergency Management 
official publishes internal SOPs that have directly influenced task force management and 
operation. This individual was chosen because he is outside of the influences that affect 
the fire and law enforcement disciplines. In this position, the NY-TF1 Program Director 
contributes an objective appraisal of the task force’s synergistic nature. 

The following individuals were the participants in this study and provided 
exclusive insight into the collaborative aspects of NT-TFl’s organizational design and 
systemic practices. 

1. Fred Lafamina, Deputy Chief (Acting)—FDNY (Respondent F-l) 

Recently retired as Chief of Rescue Services, Chief Lafamina had 27 years with 
the FDNY and has spent the majority of his professional career in the Special Operations 
Command. He has over 20 years experience with the task force. Since NY-TFl’s 
creation, Chief Lafamina has been involved with the task force and has seen it develop 
into its current form. He has held virtually every position on the task force and was one 
of Chief Ray Downey’s (NY-TF1 creator) original selections in 1990. 

2. Joseph R. Downey, Battalion Chief—FDNY (Respondent F-2) 

For the past three years, Chief Downey has been one of the four chief officers in 
charge of the FDNY’s Rescue Battalion. The FDNY Rescue Battalion supervises the five 
elite Rescue Companies located throughout NYC. Chief Downey has 26 years with the 
FDNY and 13 in Special Operations. The son of task force founder, Chief Ray Downey, 
Joseph Downey has been in the TFL position for the last six years. During his 
membership on NY-TF1, Chief Downey has been deployed as a team manager and TFL 
and was the NY-TF1 commander for the deployment to the 2010 Haitian earthquake. 



Liam J. Flaherty, Captain—FDNY (Respondent F-3) 

Captain Flaherty is currently assigned as commander of Rescue Company 2, 
Brooklyn in the Special Operations Command and has 20 years with the FDNY, and all 
of his assignments in SOC have been with the elite rescue companies. He is a member of 
the NYC Incident Management Team (IMT) that provides C2 support for major wild¬ 
land fire operations nationally and recently deployed to the 2010 Haitian earthquake as a 
rescue team manager. 

4. James Molloy, Chief—NYPD (Respondent P-1) 

Chief Molloy currently is the commanding officer for the NYPD Emergency 
Services Bureau and has held that position for almost three years. He has over 29 years 
with the NYPD and has been in the Special Operations Division since 2002. He 
supervises all aspects of the NYPD involvement with NY-TF1. Although not a member 
of the task force, all command issues and support requirements are his responsibility. 

5. Robert Lukach, Deputy Inspector—NYPD (Respondent P-2) 

Inspector Lukach is the executive officer of the NYPD Emergency Services 
Bureau and has 23 years in service. He has been with the Special Operations Division for 
seven years and has been on NY-TF1 for the past five years. Inspector Lukach was the 
second TFL for the 2010 Haitian earthquake deployment. 

6. Franco Barbiero, Lieutenant—NYPD (Respondent P-3) 

Lieutenant Barbiero has 19 years with the NYPD, 16 years of which have been in 
the Emergency Services Bureau. He has been involved with NY-TF1 since 2003 and was 
a rescue team manager during the 2010 Haitian earthquake deployment. 

7. John Grimm—OEM (Respondent 0-1) 

Mr. Grimm has been with the NYC Office of Emergency Management since 2006 
when he was hired to become the Program Director for NY-TF1. Prior to entering that 


position, Mr. Grimm had served with the United States Marine Corps as a company 
commander for a combat engineer unit (1999-2005). Mr. Grimm saw combat during the 
Iraq invasion in 2003 and again during the civil-support phase of the conflict in 2005. He 
has expertise in engineering and military leadership. Mr. Grimm was chosen by OEM to 
bring a fresh perspective to the NY-TF1 position. 


The interview process involved a set of seven scripted questions that were 
designed to open a discussion of the NY-TF1 command and control model. Participants 
were asked the formal questions to begin the interview and unscripted questions were 
used to amplify answers during the course of each interview. All study subjects were 
asked the scripted questions. Additional infonnal queries were only used to collect 
information correspondent to the formal questions. The transcripts that follow only 
contain data that directly references the formally scripted questions. Transcript texts 
were used to identify commonalities found in the answers given by the study subjects. 
These commonalities were coded for: (1) systemic processes, (2) organizational designs, 
(3) barriers to interdisciplinary synergy, and (4) collaboration gaps. These four 
commonalities are further defined by the following specific synergy elements and 


Table 1. Synergy Elements 

Personal interaction —The incidence of exposure individuals and disciplines have with 
each other in a training or operational setting. 

Familiarity —The level of common knowledge, skills and experience developed from 

personal interaction which is shared between individuals. _ 

Trust —The shared confidence in the qualification, training, ability and dedication 

between disciplines. _ 

Role clarity —Distinct separation between disciplines as far as responsibility for incident 

essential tasks at interagency operations. _ 

Operational Definition —Specific assignment of operational objectives that support 

incident command. _ 

Information Exchange —The free-flow of communication between disciplines that 
enhances operational situational awareness. 

Unified Command —Joint authority for incident command at emergencies. 

Shared Decision Rights —Inclusion in command and operational decision-making 

processes. _ 

Common ID / Perspective —The shared, singular identification accepted among task 

force members. _ 

Division of Labor —The distribution of operational assignments and tasks between 

disciplines. _ 

Functional Complimentary Resources- Separate and unique discipline capabilities that 
support a common incident objective._ 


Table 2. Synergy Challenges 

Agency Competition —Struggle between disciplines for incident command and operational 
control at emergencies. _ 

Territoriality —A behavior pattern that restricts information exchange, limits interagency 
cooperation, and duplicates effort between disciplines. _ 

Discipline paradigms —Operational demands, priorities and approaches at emergencies 
that are discipline specific and not common to another agency. _ 

Uncertainty / unfamiliarity —Doubt or hesitation involving the decision-making process 
due to a lack of knowledge or understanding with an opposing discipline or individual. 
Personnel turnover —The change in individual staffing assignments to a unit which results 
from retirement, promotion or transfer. _ 

Independent department SOP’s —Departmental policies and operational tactics that do not 
significantly reference the roles and responsibilities of outside agencies. _ 

Political Influence —Pressures on incident decision-making not directly related to incident 

Personality Conflicts —Incompatible individual relationships. 

Operational Isolation —Separate departmental efforts at incidents that could be more 
effectively managed by a combined inter-service approach. _ 


Table 3. Text Coding 

Interview Transcripts 

Text Coding 

1. How does the collaborative nature of the NY-TF1 model compare 
with the general FDNY-NYPD relationship? 


• In terms of collaboration, the task force is definitely stronger than 

avera ge FD-PD relationship. NY-TF1 has gotten its | ; \ ; 

.■ | during training and a ctive deplo yments. _ 

• You don’t see the turnover and personality conflicts on the team that 
you have in the greater FD-PD environment. 


• The taskforce benefits from a fefinition or respect that every member 

has for his job that isn't present in the FD-PD response role. It works better 
because everybody knows their job and does it. _ 

• I personally know every FD member on the team. ... he s | 


• NY-TF1 has a unique organization that enforces cooperation between 

police and fire. There are fewer conflicts than you see in the street. We’ve 
gotten to know each other; we with wha t we ’re good at and what 

we need help in and This guy’s strong with 

tools and that guy is confident building’s something we ’re 
confident in. 


• The general FD-PD relationship has gotten better over time out of 

necessity, the nature of the threat and the types of emergencies has forced us 
to get along. But, clearly we’ve g ot more to go and t he taskforce does do 
things better... this is because we^^^^^^^^^^^^for the team. Team 
selection produces synergy. _ 

• Conflicts arise from unfamiliarity between FD and PD resources in 
terms of departmental procedures. We don’t have an understanding of how 
FD approaches things and your guys aren ’t familiar with our SOP’s. 


• The task force definitely has better collaboration tha n the FD-PD 

guys in the precincts and firehouses. have a lot of 

influence on this. It increases collaboration and isn’t found outside of them 
team and SOC/SOD environment. 

• Two separate tactical paths\ keep the FD and PD disconnected 
iteraction in 

because of little or no interaction in day-to-day operations. 

• Interdepartmental information flow is a problem, there’s not much 

communication at emergencies. NY-TF1 uses a (>/<//■-.• ,u„! 

<. tiren t there for the general FD-PD units. 

• NY-TF1 is just “different, ” there aren’t conflicts that are foun d the 
greater FD-PD. Collaboration barriers are broken with | 

| enforced on the task force build cooperation. 

| embed a collaborative atmosphere on the task force. 

- Personal interaction. 

- Familiarity. 

- Trust. 

- Shared decision 

- Information exchange. 

- Command screening. 
-Unified Leadership. 


- Common identity / 


■ Operational definition. 

- Division of labor. 

- Functional 

- Role Clarity. 

Barriers to 


- Agency competition. 

- Territoriality. 

- Discipline paradigms. 

- Uncertainty / 

- Personnel turnover. 

Collaboration Gaps 

- independent 
departmental SOP 

- Political influences 

- Personality conflicts. 

- Operational isolation. 


Interview Transcripts 

Text Coding 

0 - 1 : 

• The |separate discipline roles are not clear in the general FD-PD 
response relationship. That’s not the case with NY-TF1. There’s a more 
collaborative sense during task force operations. 

• The task force has redundancy, which is a good thing, but not 
duplication of effort. Individuals can pick-up other roles, but there isn’t the 
crossing of job descriptions you see between FD and PD at daily interagency 

2. What are the barriers to collaboration / synergy found in the greater 
FDNY-NYPD relationship that are not found in the 
NY-TF1 model? 


• Training and^ go a long way to building trust on the task 
force. USR skills exercises and active deployments have help NY-TF1 to 
become a coordinated and collaborative team. Regular firefighters & police 
don’t get that. 

• Unfamiliarity leads to conflict between FD and PD. If you don’t 
know the person next to you, his skills and abilities, then you ’re not going to 
have that same level of familiarity and trust. 

• NYPD has more influence over city politics than every ; other agency. 
This tends to breed a distrust for them. 


• Personality conflict\play a big role that affects FD-PD collaboration. 
We don’t let that happen on the task force. 

• Sometimes there are interagency issu es between us [FD and PD] 
because there isn 't the supervision to stop it. In NYC, the FD always arrives 
at jobs with a s upervisor . That’s n ot always t he case with PD. 

• Not “knowing" what they [PD] kno^ can be a problem. _ 

Qualifications are important. At the average emergency in NYC, the FD units 
are not familiar with PD procedures or response assignments. NYPD 
dispatch sends different response packages that change depending on the day, 
operational work-load. This is a problem for incident commanders. 


• Duplication of services is a barrier to FD-PD synergy. When the two 
departments are competing for command of an incident, they ’re not going to 
work well together. 

• When incident command is unclear there is a struggle between the 
two agencies that h urts cooperatio n. 

• There doesn’t seem to be a formal structure of command at most 
interdepartmental operations in NYC. 


• In the FD-PD relationship, there isn ’t the trust\ you see on the task 

This comes from a \ack of 
knowledge regarding SOP’s and tactics. Often times we are unsure what 
strategy’ a discipline is using, offensive or defensive. 

• Our department procedures don 't match up at times. We tend to 
locate command posts differently. From a PS perspective, putting a CP inside 
a building doesn’t work. 

• Territoriality works against FD-PD cooperation. 

- Personal interaction. 

- Familiarity. 

- Trust. 

- Shared decision 

- Information exchange. 

- Command screening. 
- Unified leadership. 


- Common identity / 


■ Operational definition. 

- Division of labor. 

- Functional 

- Role Clarity. 

Barriers to 

- Agency competition. 

- Territoriality. 

- Discipline paradigms. 

- Uncertainty / 

- Personnel turnover. 

Collaboration Gaps 

- independent 
departmental SOP 

- Political influences 

- Personality conflicts. 

- Operational isolation. 


Interview Transcripts 

Text Coding 

• Department perspective has a big factor in FD-PD synergy\ Most PD 

incidents don't progress to the point where a formal incident command 

structure on scene is necessary. FD is use to establishing an operational 

dynamic command and control element. 


• There are political pressures in the general FD-PD relationship that 
hurt team collaboration. Department senior leaders at times don’t see past 
historic rivalries and influence how the two agencies work in the streets. 

• The media-cycle drives how emergen cies are managed. It’s important 

how the PD, and FD, are perceived in public. This sometimes works to the 
disadvantage of departmental collaboration. 


• At times we work against ourselves. It’s not that on e agency wants t o 

out-do the other, but it’s sometimes the pro-active nature of firefighters and 
police. Everybody “wants to do the job, ” get somebody out of danger, rescue 
someon e. We just don’t want to watch. _ 

• Personalities can solve this problem or them 

0 - 1 : 

• From an outsider observation, there are problems when a department 
operates “outside ’’ of their position. On NY-TF1 that doesn’t happen. 

• The separation and divisions between the FD and PD block a 
collaborative effort; sepa rate communications and competitiveness limits 

3. What barriers to collaboration / synergy does NY-TF1 overcome? 

• There is some difference in expertise regarding USR operations on 
NY-TF1. Not everyone has the same level of expe rience operating at 
collapsed structures. NY-TF1 overcomes this by 

Training together, deploying together and living with each other 

with each other helps reduce distrust 

between fire and police. 


• That for is key. Each member and 

team knows what they ’re responsible to do and how to do it. They don’t 
exceed their role. 

• Leader^H keeps the task force focused on specific missions without 

• The incident command system used during USR training and 

operations /o/'cev_^_ 

• Common put everybody on the same 


F-3: _ 

overcome synergy’ barriers. 

and instills a common purpose 

need for cooperation. 

- Personal interaction. 

- Familiarity. 

- Trust. 

- Shared decision 

- Information exchange. 

- Command screening. 
- Unified leadership. 


- Common identity / 


■ Operational definition. 

- Division of labor. 

- Functional 

- Role Clarity. 

Barriers to 

- Agency competition. 

- Territoriality. 

- Discipline paradigms. 

- Uncertainty / 

- Personnel turnover. 

Collaboration Gaps 

- Independent 
departmental SOP 

- Political influences 
- Personality conflicts. 
-Operational isolation. 

Defined roles and responsibilities limit competition. 


Interview Transcripts 

Text Coding 


• There are no [interdepartmental] politics involved in NY-TF1. 

• The There’s one mission that applies. In the 

FD-PD relationship there are sometimes conflicting mandates; search and 
safety verses security and investigation. 

• Positions are specific and understood by each member of NY-TF!. At 
times this is a little vague in the real world. 


• The team overcomes synergy’ barriers that department identities 

bring. The common taskforce mentality that a shared team identification has 

overcomes departmental divisions. 

P- 3: 

• fntemcti iWI build bonds on the team that overcome challenges to the 
collaboration needed. FD-PD collaboration is significantly better between 
SOC and SOD because of the experience and team building in NY-TF1. 

0 - 1 : 

• The separate agency mentality is a barrier to cooperation that is not 
present in NY-TF 1. Common team identification helps to eliminate 
competition and territoriality found between FD and PD. 

• NY-TF l works because o ffUBBSBBk Strong 
leaders prevent issues from becoming problems. 

4. Describe examples of synergy found on the NY-TF1 team during 


• Hurricane Rita and the deployment was a good example ofNY-TFl 
synergy of effort. NYPD | /■ ■ -- si ■ ■ ■.//;, ■ ■ 

TFi. , v / 7 ; V 5 | Technical rescue issues and tactical decisions were 

backed-up with FDNY know-how. FD experience was used in making critical 
decisions by PD command commanders. 

Training toge ther, deploying together and living with each other 
\ and leads to team synergy’. 

| from training with each other helps reduce distrust 
between fire and police. 


• That on the task for is key. Each member and 

team knows what they ’re responsible to do and how to do it. They don’t 
exceed their role. 

• Leader^/l keeps the task force focused on specific missions without 

• The used during USR training and 

opera ti ons forces _ 

• Common FEMA qualifications standards put everybody on the same 



overcome synergy’ barriers, 
is well defined and instills a common purpose 

need for cooperation. 

- Personal interaction. 

- Familiarity. 

- Ttrust. 

- Shared decision 

- Information exchange. 

- Command screening. 
- Unified leadership. 


- Common identity / 


■ Operational definition. 

- Division of labor. 

- Functional 

- Role Clarity. 

Barriers to 

- Agency competition. 

- Territoriality. 

- Discipline paradigms. 

- Uncertainty / 

- Personnel turnover. 

Collaboration Gaps 

- Independent 
departmental SOP 

- Political influences 

- Personality conflicts. 

- Operational isolation. 

Defined roles and responsibilities limit competition. 


Interview Transcripts 

Text Coding 


(Participant declined to answer having not deployed with NY-TF1) 


• During the Haiti mission, the separate teams operated within then 

assigned roles. At the MHQ / Christopher hotel, the search guys found the 
victim, rescue team removed him and the medical team kept the victim stable 
until transport. This was important. The teams did not work 

outside their scope. _ 

• Inc l us io n shutting guys out of contributing causes more 



• At Hurricane Katrina, we were able to accomplish missions outside of 
normal USR operations because we had 

technician. A strengthened the task force and 

enabled us to reorganize the team to a specific mission. This aligns 
everybody; we ’re all on one page. helped all teams 

and members work together. 

0 - 1 : 

(Participant declined to answer having not deployed with NY-TF1) 

5. What elements / factors contribute to the collaborative success of the 
NY-TF1 model? 


• Respecting the roles and responsibilities that NY-TF1 practices is 
important to getting along and working together. 

• Using^^^^^^^^^^^^^tisakevto unified effort. 

• The ” that USR ops need does 

factor into the synergy’ that you see in NY-TF1. 


• Common tearn^^^^^ is first, the task force is not an FD thing or PD 
thing; i t has its own ID. This builds the team co ncept. 

• Personal interaction and built on task force key’ 

to achieving the collaboration of FD and PD. This isn’t a factor for the rest 
of the FD-PD community. 

• Role definition and responsibilities and observing these boundaries 
the foundation everything builds on. 


• It’s we have with guys on the team that 

everything relies on. I know who’s good at certain things and who isn’t. That 
helps me decide ho w to approach a situatio n and where to use individuals. It 
comes down to thelevel we have with each other. 


• The [search & rescue] that NY-TF1 has is 

important. There’s only on mission, one objective and this unites the FD-PD 


• Knowing your role [discipline] and your function is a factor in how 
your contribution to the team is measured. There’s a common need to 
support the task force operation, nobody wants to let everyone else down. 

- Personal interaction. 

- Trust. 

- Shared decision 

- Information exchange. 

- Command screening. 

- Unified leadership. 

n nizational 


- Common identity / 

- Operational definition. 
- Division of labor. 

- Functional 
- Role Clarity. 

Barriers to 


- Agency competition. 


- Discipline paradigms. 
- Uncertainty / 

- Personnel turnover. 

Collaboration Gaps 

- independent 
departmental SOP 
- Political influences 
- Personality conflicts. 

- Operational isolation. 


Interview Transcripts 

Text Coding 

P ' 3: 

• The is the 

FD and PD members. There isn’t one dominant agency, | .-:a:; ■•/;/•> : .■■/;. ^v. 
This creates buy-in from the task forced members. 

0 - 1 : 

• Tasking groups together builds a synergy’ from the FD and PD. They 
have to collaborate to get the job done. They can’t finish alone. 

• i mi /1 11 ntually results in a 
collaborative product. 

;'v /.; >' : T | This is lacking between the FD and PD 

you see in the street. 

• These guys take pride in what they are doing. It’s they 

want to be here. 

6. Are the collaborative dynamics found in the NY-TF1 model 

applicable to a Complex Endeavor event like the Mumbai Terror 


| NY-TF1 deployments, like similar technical rescue emergencies, are 
fluid and need an approach that uses an | 

F- 2; 

• Personal relationships that are in the to 

accomplishment. It’s going to be the same for a big thing like a Mumbai 

That are 

going to have to be able to trust each other. 


• I can see the way we do things on the team as beneficial to the NYC 

approach to a Mumba-style event. The FD and PD do their thing really well 
because we do it ev ery’ day, hut | .•• • • . - - - /■. . ■ ' < /; 

: ■, r\ catastrophic incidents verses ordinary operations. The 
Haiti earthquake was similar to 9/11 in scale. The devastation forced the 
FDNY and NYPD to bond together. We can’t wait for an event to do that. 


• A Mumbai incident is going to be huge, but you can’t really make one 

specific plan for it that applies to every aspect. Like the [NYP D] Patrol guid e 
does not spell out everything the polic e do and how they do it, | ?: 

.••••• d/e. | between the departments. 

• Preparing for a similar incident will require [interdepartmental] 

education. We need between the departments. 

P- 2; _ _ 

• We can’t have two separate approaches. NY-TF1 has | 

SOP’s don’t have an 

interagency focus; they only see one side or the other. 

• Smaller drills and traini^^^^^^^ need 
guys; fire lieutenants and police sergeants. 


- Personal interaction. 

- Familiarity. 

- Trust. 

- Shared decision 

- Information exchange. 

- Command screening. 
- Unified leadership. 


- Common identity / 


■ Operational definition. 

- Division of labor. 

- Functional 

- Role Clarity. 

Barriers to 

- Agency competition. 

- Territoriality. 

- Discipline paradigms. 

- Uncertainty / 

- Personnel turnover. 

Collaboration Gaps 

- Independent 
departmental SOP 

- Political influences 

- Personality conflicts. 

- Operational isolation. 

• The 

to a Mumbai event. 


Interview Transcripts 

We need to be more like the task force, 

for a response to an active-shooter like Mumbai or we won’t do 

The things that are necessary together. 

0 - 1 : 


• NY-TF1 has a \ 

fosters collaboration. This is required for any complex event. 

The \— 

f. An and how 

individuals adapt those to specific situations forms. The same thing is 
required for a Mumbai incident. 

7. Is the synergy of the NY-TF1 team unique, or can it be replicated in 
the greater FDNY-NYPD dynamic? 


• The way the FD and PD g uys wor k together on NY-TF1 is not unique, 
but it’s hard to carry over to two organizations as large as the FDNY and 

Personnel turnover in the firehouses and precincts works against 
collaboration buildin 
What is | 

the more you find ways to work better as a 

unit; likeNY-TFl. 


not two plans that don’t deal with 

• I think you need that no confusion. 

There’s enough of that as it is during emergencies. 

Unifying the command sections at emergencies isn’t enough, the 

NY-TF1 does this. 

• You need \ 

each other. 


• Part of what makes guys work together is the “trial by fire ” 

experience. A and that can 

replicat ed. 

CIMS needs to be tightened to build FD- 

PD collaboration. 



_• NYC needs a \ 

, | The FD and PD need to get together and decide how we are going to 

approach interagency emergencies jointly. NY-TF1 has achieved this at USR 

Personal relationships on NY-TF1 are not replicable to the FDNY- 
Mpd dynamic. 

P- 2: 

• Just like the^^^ . 

greater FD-PD relationship can improve, but it will take longer. 

• Pe 

training and education. 


| through 

The firehouse and precincts in NYC have the same goals, but 

different ways to achieve them. 

Text Coding 

- Personal interaction. 

- Familiarity. 

- Trust. 

- Shared decision 

- Information exchange. 

- Command screening. 
- Unified leadership. 


- Common identity / 


■ Operational definition. 

- Division of labor. 

- Functional 

- Role Clarity. 

Barriers to 

- Agency competition. 

- Territoriality. 

- Discipline paradigms. 

- Uncertainty / 

- Personnel turnover. 

Collaboration Gaps 

- Independent 
departmental SOP 

- Political influences 
- Personality conflicts. 
-Operational isolation. 



Interview Transcripts 

Text Coding 

• The 

”| as far as FD-PD synergy’ that NY-TF1 
currentl y sees. There is no reason w e can’t get better at working together. 

the FD and PD {disciplines]. 

• Just be ing on \ 

Turnover in staff is negative for synergy to build. That’s a 
problem for the greater FD and PD. 

0 - 1 : 

• The greater FDNY and NYPD relationship needs organization and 

that both agencies follow at emergencies. 

• Interagency operations need one perspective. NY-TF1 forces one 
perspective; there isn’t an FD part and PD part. This is not present in NYC 
and can be instilled by leaders above. 

Military “joint-ness ” is where NYC needs to go\ _ 

That is 

something NY-TF 1 does and may help the FDNY-NYPD relationship. 

- Personal interaction. 

- Familiarity. 

- Trust. 

- Shared decision 

- Information exchange. 

- Command screening. 

- Unified leadership. 

- Common identity / 


- Operational definition. 

- Division of labor. 

- Functional 
- Role Clarity. 

Barriers to 


- Agency competition. 

- Territoriality. 

- Discipline paradigms. 

- Uncertainty / 

- Personnel turnover. 

Collaboration Gaps 

- Independent 
departmental SOP 
- Political influences 

- Personality conflicts. 

- Operational isolation. 



This research study collected data through an interview process to ascertain 
common themes describing the NY-TF1 command and control model. Data was divided 
into two categories: fundamental elements of N-TF1 synergy and challenges to NY-TF1 
synergy. The commonalities that run through the study participant answers to the seven 
formal research questions are the evidence for the conclusions and recommendations in 
this thesis. There were eleven characteristics of NY-TF1 synergy and nine challenges to 
interdisciplinary synergy identified by interview subjects. The strength of a synergy 
characteristic or challenge is dependent on the number of common answers found in the 
interview pool. For example, if all study participants referenced a synergy element, then 
that is considered to be a strong indicator that the specific synergy element is true. 
Synergy elements or characteristics that are not universally common are less conclusive 
evidence. Those characteristics or challenges that are not common to both emergency 
service disciplines were excluded as evidence for this study. 


The data drawn from this thesis’s interview questions and answers can be 
summarized in Table 4, NY-TF1 Synergy Matrix. From this table, the following 
interpretations are made from the analysis of the collected data: 

1. Core Components of NY-TF1 Synergy 

All study subjects considered that personal interaction, operational definition, 
unified command, common identification and functional complimentary resources as 
important factors that foster synergy in the NY-TF1 model. This supports the conclusion 
that these five characteristics of task force synergy are central factors in NY-TFl’s 
collaborative relationship between the FDNY and NYPD. This indicates that 
recommendations that promote interdepartmental exposure, specifying departmental 


assignments, establishing joint incident command, developing a common inter-service 
perspective and leveraging unique departmental expertise at interagency operations 
should be explored. 

2. Major Challenges to Interdepartmental Synergy 

Ah study subjects brought up interdepartmental uncertainty, unfamiliarity and 
operational isolation as the biggest barriers to synergy between the FDNY and NYPD. 
Each SME agreed that these two issues prevent NYC firefighters and police from 
realizing the collaborative framework found in NY-TF1. This conclusion suggests that 
reducing their influence on the greater FDNY-NYPD dynamic relationship would foster 
inter-service synergy in NYC. 

3. Role Clarity and Shared Decision Rights Strongly Support Inter- 
Service Synergy 

Ah study subjects, with one exception each, identified role clarity and shared 
decision rights as significant factors that foster FDNY-NYPD synergy on NY-TF1. Both 
exceptions in this commonality came from the same interview subject and can be 
attributed to a deviation in the interview process. These two particular synergy elements 
were not mentioned by that respondent. 

Although not unanimously considered as pertinent to promoting FDNY-NYPD 
synergy, they can be reasonably accepted as influential to emergency service 
collaboration. Recommendations that resolve emergency service operational ambiguity 
and incorporate incident management of interagency emergencies need to be examined. 

4. Departmental Paradigms Prevent Service Collaboration 

Ah uniformed SMEs indentified that organizational missions and departmental 

priorities are divisive in terms of agency collaboration. FDNY and NYPD approaches at 

interagency operations are divergent; ah uniformed SMEs considered this influence. Fire 

service objectives focus on search and evacuation whereas law enforcement objectives 

emphasize investigative and security approaches. The only SME exception to this 


finding was civilian, not necessarily a source fluent in inter-service dynamics. This 
synergy challenge can be reasonably accepted as problematic as far as interagency 
synergy development. 

5. FDNY-NYPD Synergy Areas of Interest 

The remaining identified synergy fostering elements and challenges were not 
uniformly discovered in the interview pool. Consequently, these characteristics are not 
considered as conclusive evidence; however, there is significant reference of these factors 
in the interview pool to encourage further study of these factors. 


The interpretations summarized in the preceding section were drawn from 
observing the collected data. Once the interview transcripts were reviewed and pertinent 
themes were identified, the strength of the theme commonalities could be measured. For 
the purposes of this study, a theme was concluded to be reliable evidence if all interview 
participants independently referenced that theme. If a commonality theme was found in 
all but one interview, then that theme was considered reasonable evidence for this study. 
The remaining themes discovered in this study are considered to be worthy of further 
research. These themes were independently identified by three or more study 
participants. In the view of this thesis, these themes cannot be conclusive evidence for 
making recommendations, but they are interesting influences on the interdisciplinary 
relationship between the FDNY and NYPD. 

Table 4 contains the identified eleven positive influences and nine negative 
influences on synergy that study participants referenced in the NY-TF1 model. 


Table 4. NY-TF1 Synergy Matrix 

Svnerev Elements 

Svnerev Challenees 

( ) 

mi ir-i avnerev iviairix 








































Role clarity 































Shared Decision 







Common ID / 








Division of Labor 


































Uncertainty / 












































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1. Defense Technical Information Center 
Ft. Belvoir, Virginia 

2. Dudley Knox Library 
Naval Postgraduate School 
Monterey, California 

3. Salvatore J. Cassano, NYC Fire Commissioner 
New York City Fire Department 
Brooklyn, New York 

4. John Grimm, NY-TF1 Program Director 
NYC Office of Emergency Management 
Brooklyn, New York