Report of the Emergency Management Director - 2017

The Emergency Management department prepares for natural and man-made disasters, serving as the local branch of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Wakefield continues to be an active member of the 22-community Mystic Regional Emergency Planning Committee (REPC). The Mystic REPC meets ten times during the year and works to conduct and coordinate emergency exercises and procedures throughout the area.

Wakefield subscribes to Code Red, an emergency notification telephone system that allows town officials to immediately notify residents and businesses via telephone of emergency situations and important community information. During 2017 no local emergency shelters needed to be opened.

The winter of 2016-17 was cold but did not produce any significant snow storms. As a result, there were fewer calls for water problems related to frozen pipes, ice dams etc. and the town did not need to apply for any federal assistance for storm-related events.

An Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) was awarded in the summer of 2016 for $6,460 that partially funded the replacement of four worn-out smoke exhaust fans used by the Wakefield Fire Department. Matching funds for these fans came from the town’s Emergency Management Budget for FY 2017. These fans will be utilized in many different applications, including but not limited to: fires, hazardous materials incidents and incidents involving confined space rescues. Law enforcement activities that could require the use of these fans include clandestine drug labs, bomb scenes and terrorist incidents involving the use of nerve and chemical agents. The new fans are battery powered, allowing them to be used in areas remote from an electrical power source. An additional EMPG grant for $6,460 for the purchase of fiber optic cable to support improvements to the department’s radio system was applied for in the fall of 2017. The department hopes to obtain this grant in the spring of 2018.

The Emergency Management department participated along with the Wakefield Police and Fire and other agencies in an active shooter drill at the Northeast Regional Vocational school on Hemlock Road on April 19 and 20. This drill, organized by the Wakefield Police Department, was designed to allow police, fire and EMS personnel an opportunity to examine their respective roles in an incident involving an active shooter. The drill was very informative and will provide the basis for the development of standard operating procedures regarding this type of situation. A table-top exercise sponsored by the Wakefield School Department examined a scenario involving the touch down of a tornado in the Hemlock Road area. Both the vocational and high schools were damaged by this simulated tornado and the various departments participating then acted out their respective roles in mitigating the emergency. The drill was successful and very instructive in terms of the challenges that Wakefield could face if such a disaster occurs.

The Town of Wakefield has decided to pursue the creation of a dedicated Emergency Manager position in town as opposed to the role currently being carried out by the Fire Chief. I will therefore strive to make this transition as smooth as possible for the new manager once that position is filled. I am confident that I have served the town in my capacity as Emergency Manager to the best of my ability and look forward to concentrating my efforts on fire department activities including those that overlap into emergency management.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to all department heads and their supervisors for their continued cooperation and assistance in serving on the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Respectfully submitted,

Fire Chief Michael J. Sullivan
Emergency Management Director

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