The age of uncertainty: the aftermath of the London terror attacks has left a great deal of uncertainty, with police and the security services emphasising that the terrorist threat is clear and present. FIRE asks if we are fully prepared for a permanent state of emergency.(London bombings)

AT LAST, THE "IF" HAS BECOME the "when" and "7/7" has moved into the lexicon of everyday conversation.

A hundred pounds worth of explosives has shown that the 350 million [pounds sterling] pound investment and the altered mind set of the UK Fire and Rescue Service have paid dividends in the response to the London attacks.

The London Fire Brigade emergency phase operations have been justly praised as effective and both individually and collectively, firefighters demonstrated that even in these politically challenging times, their eye remained firmly on the ball At an extended level, gold controls were set up in the Home Counties to provide additional resilience and support for the metropolis, had it become necessary.

Fortunately, due to a number of factors the emergency phase of the incidents were successfully dealt with in a short time. The first key point is that the incidents were compressed both geographically and, perhaps more importantly, in time.

The initial reports from London Underground were that there had been an explosion, caused by an electrical problem. It was only 20 minutes later that it was confirmed that bombs and not electricity that caused them. If the bombs had exploded in different cities or regions, how long would it have taken before "joined up thinking" took place and an alert put out to other areas?

Secondly, the incident types themselves were relatively straightforward and static. Although each was a major incident in itself, it was largely a matter of logistics and coordination, dealt with efficiently while adhering to the doctrine of flexibility in response. …

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