Over 13 years ago, Arlington’s fire and police departments first teamed up to better address active shooter situations.
Since then, their partnership — called the Rescue Task Force — has become the standard for when police and fire personnel respond together to high-threat situations, according to The National Fire Protection Association. The departments’ model was even adopted for the 2012 London Olympics.
In recent years, the task force has taken on a new threat requiring teamwork between police and fire: explosives.
The expanding role of the task force reflects how the fire department’s responsibilities have evolved over the last decade, as well as an increased need for intra-agency cooperation to handle complex situations. As public safety threats have changed, so too have the duties of firefighters. Gone are the days when they just fought fires — now, they save lives in active shooter situations and defuse bombs.