Now through December 31, the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management will provide support services to the City of Puyallup under a new six-month agreement costing $15,000.
“The contract provides a stronger response capability,” said City Manager Bill McDonald. “I’m not questioning why we hadn’t done it in the past. I’m familiar with operating in conjunction with the county and I think it’s a better approach. I want to have a formal relationship (with the county) and that’s what this gives us for not a whole lot of money.”
According to a city release, Merle Frank, the city’s emergency management director, had his contract extended to continue providing emergency management services for the first six months of this year. Following those six months, Frank recently retired.
Over the past several years, the city has managed its own emergency management division — providing staffing and resources for preparing an emergency management plan, emergency operations plan and mitigation plans. The city has done this with a meager budget of $260,000.
In addressing this decision to the Puyallup City Council last Tuesday, July 16, city councilmember Tom Swanson made a point that the city’s emergency staff would still need to be trained to respond to an emergency for the first 72 hours of a regional emergency.
McDonald informed council that city staff would be prepared.
“Our contract (with the county) is not a substitute to having a capability at the local level,” McDonald said. “We will have to be able to act on our own in an emergency.”
As part of the contract, McDonald said the city would be provided by the county a 24-hour a day duty officer coverage for emergency management issues; training for the city’s emergency operations center staff and other city officials; public information dissemination during disasters; activation of the county EOC in support of a city EOC activation; and access to the county’s emergency communications portal program.
In addition to signing a contract with the county, McDonald also has issued a request for proposals to perform an independent assessment of the city’s emergency management program, as recommended by the county. And finally, in a meeting of the city’s Emergency Management Action Team, training for staff participants was the most talked about priority.
McDonald believes all of this helps make the city’s program much more stronger and better prepared.
“I’m committed to having an emergency management division that is strong,” McDonald said.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.