AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: NFPA Releases Fifth US Needs Assessment

Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 3, 2022: Officials have launched an investigation into the cause of the Marshall Fire; the FAA implores CEOs at AT&T and Verizon to delay the 5G rollout; staffing shortages and winter weather caused widespread flight disruptions and cancellations over the holidays; PG&E is still working to restore power to thousands impacted by last week’s storms across the Sierra and in the foothills; a second bomb threat at a Laguna Hills medical center was also deemed to be a hoax; the NFPA has released its fifth fire department needs assessment report; a new online interactive IPAWS Toolkit was released; and the National 911 Program has scheduled a webinar to address emerging multimedia technology in telecommunication (911) centers across the nation.

1. The wind-whipped Marshall Fire, which began last Thursday, destroyed at least 6,000 acres in Colorado. The wildfire forced widespread evacuations and destroyed about 1,000 homes and businesses in Louisville, Superior, and some parts of unincorporated Boulder County. Officials are investigating the cause of the fire, which appears to have started in a shed located in the Colorado 93 and Marshall Road area.

2. Concerns over aircraft interference have prompted federal officials to request a delay in the rollout of 5G technology. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implored top officials at AT&T and Verizon to delay the rollout of the new technology until further studies are completed. The new technology may interfere with sensitive electronic equipment, particularly during inclement weather or low visibility, which could cause widespread disruption to the aviation industry.

3. Staffing shortages were said to be the cause of widespread flight cancellations across the U.S. during the holidays. Winter weather impacted major hubs, including Denver International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, where one-quarter of all flights were canceled on New Year’s Day.  The winter weather also contributed to flight cancellations and system disruptions. Saturday also saw the cancellation of at least 2,600 flights across the U.S., with a total of 4,400 flights cancelled globally.

4. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is working to restore power to customers across the Sierra and in the foothills. High winds and heavy snowfall during a winter storm last week caused widespread damage, including downed trees and power lines. Power was cut to thousands of customers and the task of restoring power was a challenge in some remote locations. The company said it hopes to have power restored by Thursday or Friday, barring any complications from the next approaching winter storm.

5. A bomb threat was made at an Orange County hospital on Saturday, the second one the facility has received in just one week. Law enforcement responded to the MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, after a call was received that a bomb had been placed inside the building. The hospital was closed until the threat was deemed to be false. The previous bomb threat occurred around 3 p.m. on December 26 and was also determined to be a hoax.

6. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has released its Fifth U.S. Needs Report Assessment for fire departments across the nation. Overall, an increase in needs in many areas were found, while some unmet needs remained constant. The top unmet needs are staffing issues, maintaining fire equipment and modern facilities consistent with today’s fire service needs, and personal protective equipment (PPE) supply gaps and challenges. Staffing remains flat across all types, including volunteer, career or a combination of these statuses.

7. A new online interactive, web-based version of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Program Planning Toolkit was released last month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The web-based program provides the user with a five-step walkthrough of an alerting plan template. The program is designed to assist alerting authorities and alert originators with their Alerting Program Plan. Currently, more than 1,500 federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial alerting authorities use the IPAWS system across multiple platforms, including wireless technology, digital highway signs, and emergency alert systems.

8. The National 911 Program has scheduled a webinar for 12 p.m. ET on January 11, 2022 to cover incident-related imagery in emergency communication centers (ECCs). Advancements in multimedia technology can provide enhanced situation awareness for first responders during emergency response efforts, but they pose challenges. The media – including pictures, videos and text messages – must be analyzed, which can impact telecommunicators. The webinar will address these issues. The webinar is free; however, registration is required.

Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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