Critics say the partnership will turn firefighters into intelligence agents.
The New York Fire Department has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security to gather information during the course of their duties when inside homes, reports NBCSanDiego.com .
The New York plan calls for firefighters to look for materials, equipment, literature and anything that may indicate a threat of terrorist activity and report it to the Department of Homeland Security.... [M]any firefighters said they agree with the strategy. In the long run, it will be a good, because the information-sharing is supposed to go both ways, they said. Some intelligence information could get handed down to local authorities, allowing them to plan ahead.
The FDNY's plan to liaison with DHS was outlined in the fire department's "Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness Strategy ," released last April. The paragraph alluding to the NYFD's new intelligence and information-sharing partnership with DHS comes on page 20 of the plan.
The FDNY also is working with the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis to establish a direct information conduit between the NYFD and DHS. By sharing pre-incident intelligence, field observation reports and real-time incident updates, this two-way exchange of information will enhance both the FDNY's and the nation's preparedness efforts. It also will be imperative to establishing a common operational picture on the local and national levels during an incident.
Critics, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, say that the plan not only infringes on a citizen's right to privacy but could distort the image of firefighters from selfless heroes to suspicious agents of the state.