Terrorist Attacks Against Firefighters, 1970-2019

Gregory N. Jasani, Garrett A. Cavaliere, Lin Lin Tian, Stephen Y. Liang, Benjamin J. Lawner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Firefighters are a critical component of the emergency response system and therefore a potential target for organizations seeking to disrupt this system. Terrorist organizations may deliberately attack firefighters to both increase the devastation of an attack and impair the affected community's ability to respond to an attack. We performed a focused search of the Global Terrorism Database to identify terrorist attacks against firefighters worldwide. The database includes incidents from 1970 through 2019, with a total of 201,183 entries. These entries were searched for incidents involving firefighters or fire trucks. We analyzed trends in the number of incidents occurring per year, regions of the world impacted, methods employed, and number of casualties inflicted. A total of 42 attacks involving firefighters were identified in the Global Terrorism Database resulting in 26 deaths and 95 wounded. Of the 42 attacks, 12 (28.6%) were secondary attacks, where firefighters responding to an initial attack were themselves targeted. The most common method for both primary and secondary attacks was the use of a bomb or explosive. Although attacks against firefighters are uncommon, they highlight both the strategic value and vulnerability of firefighters to terrorist attacks. Increased efforts must be made to protect firefighters from future terrorist attacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-145
Number of pages5
JournalHealth security
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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