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Episode 14 #6 What joint exercises have you done and what is planned? - "10 Questions from the Mayor" Series
10 Questions for the Mayor to ask the Police and Fire Chief Series
Question 6: "What joint exercises have you done and what is planned?"
Welcome back to the next in our podcast series. We are in the middle of our mini-series, talking about 10 questions that the mayor or city manager, County administrator want to ask their police and fire chiefs together to kind of help them understand what their preparedness level is for responding to an active shooter event.
Today we are going to talk about question number six, chiefs, what joint exercises have you done and what are planned for the future? My name is Bill Godfrey. One of the instructors with C3, a retired fire chief. I have with me today, Pete Kelting, Lieutenant with Seminole County Sheriff's office, also one of the C3 instructors. And we have Tom Billington, retired fire chief and one of the C3 instructors. Tom, you want to lead us off?
Sure. I think that the city manager or mayor needs to be prepared, because a lot of your fire chiefs may say, "Well, we don't have any money." That's not an answer that the city manager or mayor wants to hear. There are so many opportunities out there for fire chiefs and emergency services managers to try to find funding, whether it's grants, whether it's partnerships, whether it's using private vendors who sponsor things.
That's what you want to hear as the city manager, that your fire chief has gone out of the box and doesn't just say, "Well I don't have any money." They're coming out of there saying, "I've tried these avenues here. Here's what we're doing and here's how we're going to fund it." That's the answer. Nothing's worse than somebody just blaming things on money and it happens so often. It's an easy way out.
It occurs to me, I probably ought to set the context because this question very much dovetails with our previous question, which is what joint training have you done and what's planned? The difference between training and exercises, training, you're trying to build up the skill levels. Exercises you're trying to evaluate whether you've pulled it all together. For the most part in this question, we're talking about full scale exercises. These things can get quite large. They require a lot of participation from your agencies, from mutual aid partners. They require people to take the time to plan them out. They require sites to facilitate. They can be monsters and they can be expensive.
So with that as the context, Pete, talk a little bit on the law enforcement side. What should the mayor want to hear from the sheriff and the fire chief when they're asked this question? What are the joint exercises you've done and what do you have planned?
Yeah. That's a great question, Bill. I think a mayor or elected official asking downward what their agencies have done for training and how they're preparing starts with their yearly budgeting of training and that they start from the ground level of what they're going to do individually as an agency. Then offering that, I think in one of the other podcasts we talked about that our training opportunities are offered across jurisdictions, just starting from the local level of it, from law and fire, that we train together. Then we build upon that, that those trainings then merge into trainings with other counties, other cities.
As we look into our regional effort, then we move outside of our own budget constraints and we plan together. We look at what funding is available to support these type of exercises, tabletops, full-scale exercises. It's very important that we keep our eye on the ball. And most agencies are eager to train that way, their training committees and the folks leading the effort for training look towards that avenue, to be able to move from individual training inside their agency to regional and multi-jurisdictional training supported by the funding that's out there. So it's extremely important that we keep our eye on the ball and train in that in that way.
Pete, I know you've got quite a bit of emergency management experience and background. Can you talk a little bit about the role that emergency management can play both in helping plan these events and staff these events, but also in securing grant funding? Because I'm sure that there's fire chiefs and police chiefs that may not be aware of how much the emergency management lane can help in getting this stuff done.
Absolutely. The emergency management function is an integral part of sustaining a training program, across all hazards, not just active shooter but all hazards, in the sense that we have regional airports, we have colleges, we have schools, we have malls, we have all sorts of locations that your emergency management function and your EM coordinator can assist you with, with planning and reaching out to the community and integrating our training responses with the community responses.
There's churches out there that, now there's accreditation standards for certain community places that they want to have that training at their location, at their venue. So it's really been a great thing for all of us to work together with our partners and again, with emergency management, who are resourced deep. They are able to reach out and get the people that can assist us in putting those training exercises together.
Yeah. Fantastic. Tom, I know you've spent well over 20 years responsible for emergency management and probably can offer some insights on the fireside. But also touch on the State Homeland Security opportunities in of grant funding and resources that can help you plan some of these things.
Right. Again, if your fire chief or emergency manager is not reaching out to these people, in the state emergency management or FEMA, there's usually UASI funds, which is the funds that come from the federal government that usually come into areas that could be considered targets. In Florida, I know Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, those type areas, there's a lot of funding. You have to go find it.
To touch on what Pete said, your emergency manager usually knows where those funds are or where they could be found. We go to fire chief conferences and they talk about fire chief stuff and union stuff and funding opportunities like Pete just mentioned, you really don't hear a lot about. So touching base with your emergency manager to find out where the funding opportunities, what's out there, very important. Next thing again, joint exercises, does that mean fire, EMS, police? Joint exercise means a lot of things. Sometimes we consider our professions as being islands, but we're not an Island.
As Pete started to allude to, we want to make sure that joint exercises include the private sector included utilities, include courthouses, hospitals, and also these are other facilities that may have some money to help out, so 911 one systems and so again, beating the bushes, working with your local partners, finding that funding. You can pull it off.
It occurs to me as we come to a close on this one, this one's not a terribly complicated topic. Again, the mayor, when he asked this question, the answer you want to hear is, "Well, we've done this, this and this. And we've got these on the books and this is where we're going. We're working on funding for this." I mean, that's the obvious part.
But I think the other thing that's important for mayors and city managers, county administrators to remember, especially in more suburban settings and in rural settings, your police chief and fire chief may or may not have had the opportunity to be exposed to some of these funding mechanisms. I mean, there's so many different grant avenues and so many different funding mechanisms. It can be hard to know where they are and where to look.
So the mayor, the city manager, they may need to help their police chief, their fire chief kind of understand where some of these opportunities may be, support them by sending them to some training sessions on funding, or even putting the city in a position to kind of help them go get that stuff. Gentleman, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to come in this afternoon. Pete, thanks for being here.
Thank you for having me.
Tom, thank you for taking the time to participate.
Everyone, thank you for joining us and please come back for our next one. Our next question in this mini-series, which is how will public information and social media being managed real time during the response? This will be an interesting topic, I'm sure. Until next time.