Are You Better Prepared Now? Departments Respond to the Big Question

Billions of dollars have been delivered to beef up their mission capability.Recognizing that the events of September 11, 2001 unveiled real problems for first responders nationwide, federal, state and local governments have shown them the money...


Billions of dollars have been delivered to beef up their mission capability.

Recognizing that the events of September 11, 2001 unveiled real problems for first responders nationwide, federal, state and local governments have shown them the money, billions of dollars to beef up their mission capability.

To get a sense if this has worked, Firehouse.com asked a number of fire departments to respond to this inquiry:

Are you in a better position to handle a major crisis today in your community than you were five years ago? Why or why not? What would be the worst case senario for you?

Here are some of the responses.

Atlanta Fire Department -- Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin

Without a doubt, America's fire service is better prepared and better educated, especially about weapons of mass destruction.

While America had seen its share of terrorist attacks before, the catastrophe of Sept. 11 is in a class all by itself.

Agencies are working together now because leaders have adopted NIMS, and realize the importance of being a team player.

The department won't let its guard down for one minute, and they're taking advantage of federal money available for training and equipment.

In addition to protecting Atlanta's residents and workers, fire and rescue personnel also provide services for Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, one of the largest in the country. A multitude of things go on daily behind the scenes to insure the public's safety.

That includes the sharing of intelligence. A battalion chief is part of the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center, comprised of police, FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and ATF. They are working diligently to gather and evaluate information.

Prior to the arrests of suspected terrorists in London last month, airport authorities were notified to be on alert. A command post was established, and staffing adjusted.

Baltimore City Fire Department -- Rick Binetti, Communications Director, Chief William J. Goodwin Jr.

Because we have a mayor and Fire Chief that take Homeland Security so seriously, the Baltimore City Fire Department is much better prepared for a response to a major crisis than five years ago. In just the last four years, our readiness and ability to respond to potential threats has grown exponentially. Along with our city partners, we have secured close to 18-million dollars in federal homeland security grants to organize, equip and train every firefighter paramedic and additional first responders from other city agencies in preparation to respond to what are unfortunately the very real threats all of us as responders face.

Baltimore has also led the way in making our region safer as a whole by taking the lead on preparedness and coordination between the major metropolitan area jurisdictions. By working together we have established a system of partnered response throughout seven counties. By aggressively going after and using DHS grants to create communications interoperability, equip multiple fire departments with the latest hazmat technology, response and detection capabilities, continuing multi-jurisdictional exercises and training and incident management cooperation, BCFD has brought together the emergency response agencies accountable for the safety of the area's roughly 1.7 people in a way that didn't seem possible five or six years ago.

Being prepared here also means that we can be prepared to help our neighbors even if they are neighbors five of six states away. After hurricane Katrina Baltimore sent a convoy of more than 35 fire, police, transportation, and public works vehicles and over 110 first-responders and city employees to Louisiana to assist local emergency personnel already on the ground.

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