Friday, March 27, 2009

UFOs and public safety: Firefighter manual explains risks

By Steve Hammons

What do public safety officials and the general public have a need to know about possible unidentified flying objects (UFOs)?

One aspect of the phenomena that may be important involves the possible dangers of "close encounters" with these objects, craft or energy anomalies. According to a 1992 firefighter training book, Fire Officer's Guide to Disaster Control, the two main hazards are powerful anomalous energy fields and psychological impacts.

The authors of the guide, Charles "Chuck" Bahme and William Kramer, primarily focus on conventional concerns and duties of firefighters and fire agencies throughout most of the book.

In addition, the authors included a chapter titled "Disaster Control and UFOs." In a section of the chapter "Adverse Potential of UFOs," the authors go into greater detail about some of these hazards.

Other sections of this chapter provide useful background information for public safety professionals and the public.


Physical dangers noted in the guide include exposure to radiation, unusual energy fields, beams or rays, according to Bahme and Kramer. These energy fields have been also been associated with disruption of communications, vehicles, aircraft and power grid operations, as well as physical injury, they point out.

Exploring the potential psychological impacts of UFO contact, the guide notes that based on past incidents, public panic should be a concern of firefighters and other public health and safety personnel.

The panic itself can contribute to accidents, injuries, distress and problematic behavior.

In this sense at least, the manual explains that fire services should consider plans to deal with outcomes from apparent UFO incidents, particularly in metropolitan regions.

We might wonder if fire departments and public safety agencies in the Phoenix, Arizona, region had such contingency plans during the March 13, 1997, "Phoenix lights" incident, even though there apparently was no public panic.

Bahme and Kramer note that there are diverse and myriad opinions about what UFOs actually are. We can also speculate that different UFOs could be different kinds of phenomena and from different origins.

The vague situation and apparent or possible secrecy of official U.S. government activities on this subject should not prevent public safety agencies from preparing for possible encounter scenarios, the manual indicates.


The authors propose examples of situations that could occur when fire officials face anomalous events such as UFO encounters.

Electrical field phenomena could cause firefighters' communication equipment to be disrupted, fire engine vehicles to malfunction or portable generators and lights to fail.

In the case of significant public panic or disruption of social stability, as we saw in the exodus of New Orleans police officers during Hurricane Katrina, public safety officers might be concerned about their families and their own safety, possibly leaving fire and police agencies short-handed.

The unusual psychological effects mentioned in the guide could also impact public safety personnel. A hypnotic, paralyzing, disorienting or confusing mental and emotional state could be faced by firefighters, peace officers and others.

Bahme and Kramer point out that it may be up to public safety officers themselves to share information and coordinate an unconventional situation in a UFO encounter scenario.

Although unconventional UFO incidents are the focus of this interesting chapter from Fire Officer's Guide to Disaster Control, the points made by the authors can also be applied to other common and unusual situations.

And, we might remember that anomalous phenomena that could impact public safety are not limited to real or perceived UFO activity.

In the closing words of the chapter on Disaster Control and UFOs, Bahme and Kramer remind fire service professionals that planning, adequate resources and good leadership are all key in dealing with public safety situations, conventional and unconventional.