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Fire As A Weapon: High Rise Structures

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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This thesis identifies an emerging problem space, high-rise pyro-terrorism. Although modern urban environments are vulnerable to sophisticated arson, and terrorists and lone-wolf attackers have exploited that vulnerability, neither practitioners nor the academic community have addressed the unique threat posed by arson. This thesis fills that gap by showing, first, that a good reason exists to believe that terrorists will use arson against high-profile urban targets in the future second, that existing regulatory strategies may be sufficient to guard against accidental fires and opportunistic arson, but have weaknesses that sophisticated attackers can identify and exploit and third, that the approach to urban firefighting must be modified to protect first responders, improve life safety in cases of pyro-terrorism, and facilitate effective collaboration with counter-terrorism forces. This thesis is valuable for an academic audience because it identifies the most pressing gaps in the literature on pyro-terrorism and explains their significance. It is also valuable to practitioners because it highlights vulnerabilities that can be addressed immediately, in a proactive rather than a reactive way.

Subject Categories:

  • Land Mine Warfare

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