The Pierce County Department of Emergency Management will provide support services to the City of Puyallup under a new six-month agreement.
The contract, which runs through Dec. 31, costs $15,000.
“The contract provides a stronger response capability,” City Manager Bill McDonald said. “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.”
Merle Frank, the city’s emergency management director, had his contract extended to continue to provide emergency management services for the first six months of this year. Frank recently retired.
During the past several years, the city has managed its own emergency management division. It has provided staffing and resources to prepare an emergency management plan, emergency operations plan and mitigation plans. The city has done so with a $260,000 budget.
City council member Tom Swanson addressed the decision last week and said the city’s emergency staff members would still need to be trained to respond during the first 72 hours of a regional emergency.
“Our contract (with the county) is not a substitute to having a capability at the local level,” McDonald answered during the July 16 council meeting. “We will have to be able to act on our own in an emergency.”
As part of the contract, McDonald said the county will provide Puyallup an officer 24 hours a day to cover emergency management issues, training for the city’s emergency operations center staff and other city officials, public information during disasters, activation of the county system in support of a city emergency activation, and access to the county’s emergency communications portal.
McDonald also has issued a request for proposals to perform an independent assessment of the city’s emergency management program, as the county recommended. Training for staff participants was the most talked about priority.
McDonald believes the contract helps to make the city’s emergency program stronger and better prepared.
“I’m committed to having an emergency management division that is strong,” he said.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.