The Police Department - not the Fire Department - will take charge of the response to terrorist attacks like 9/11 under a new emergency plan released yesterday by City Hall.
"We're not sitting here bragging about this, [but] they went with the colonel," said one police officer, referring to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, a former Marine colonel.
The long-awaited plan - needed in the wake of the rivalry between the two departments and a lack of coordination at emergency incidents - sets forth the command structure for 28 types of emergencies.
It is the first such statement of authority since the attack on the World Trade Center 21/2 years ago and comes just days before the federal commission investigating the 9/11 attacks is set to hold hearings in the city next week.
A draft report prepared by commission staff, and set to be released on Tuesday, was expected to raise concerns about the lack of a plan for coordination between the NYPD and FDNY.
City Councilman Peter Vallone, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said the release yesterday of the new emergency plan appeared to be a bid to head off any criticism from the 9/11 panel.
"They couldn't very well tell the commission they still didn't have it done," said Vallone.
Under the plan, the FDNY was named the lead agency for eight emergencies, ranging from aviation incidents to explosions. The NYPD received 12 lead assignments.
Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno said the command assignments were based on the "core competencies" of each agency.
"We're more task-oriented than incident-based," said Bruno. "I think it's logical. We don't want to inhibit the best agencies in the world. We want them to be aggressive, without creating artificial barriers."
In a key section of the report, cops won primacy over hazardous-materials assessment and investigation, covering all hazardous-material situations including chemical, biological and nuclear-terror attacks.
Firefighters were given the task of "life safety and mass decontamination" in those events.
At the most serious incidents, the Citywide Incident Management System envisioned a senior officer from the FDNY and NYPD "each having authority to manage the areas of operation" that fall within their agencies' missions.
In a press release issued by the Mayor's Office, Kelly described the protocols as a "new model" that "provides a commonsense approach to the realities of managing emergencies."