For decades, the ten municipalities in the state defined
Housatonic Valley Planning Region have been prepared to
respond to varied emergencies. Such preparation for emergency
response is a core function of local government.
After 9/11 strengthening emergency response mechanisms
became a national priority. It was determined nationally
that more regional planning could assist local effort, in
that investments would be more cost-effective and resources
could be more readily shared.
In Connecticut, the Department of Emergency Services and
Public Protection (DESPP) added a regional focus. And as
part of this new view, the DEMHS sebssection (Division of
Emergendy Management and Homeland Security) of DESPP has
been partnering with HVCEO and other regional
planning organizations to strengthen emergency
The purpose of this summary is to enable local officials
and the public to more easily understand and make use of
emergency planning resources.
to emergency management planning:
Reports relative to emergency management planning:
1. DESPP REGIONAL PLANNING
DESPP has divided Connecticut into five emergency planning
regions. To take the lead in its forty
three town “Region 5” subdistrict
for northwestern Connecticut (Greater Danbury, Greater Waterbury,
Greater Torrington and Northwest Corner rural), DESPP assembled
a planning and coordination leadership group.
Its official title is the “DESPP Region 5 Regional
Emergency Planning Team.” A key task of the Planning
Team has been to prepare the Regional
Emergency Support Plan for DESPP Region 5.
Importantly, funding priorities specified in the DESPP
Region 5 Emergency Operations Plan are tied to federal grants
from the US Department of Homeland Security. Selection will
now favor projects with regional aspects that achieve economies
There is considerable local influence over the DESPP 5
planning process, as the 43 chief elected officials within
Region 5 are the voting members of the Planning Team, approving
regional recommendations to DESPP headquarters as to how
grants should be distributed.
But these chief elected officials will not be expected
to meet frequently. Rather, the detailed plan preparation
work will be the responsibility of a smaller Steering Committee
that will meet monthly. The Chair of the Steering Committee
is Fire Chief John Field of Torrington.
The Steering Committee includes two HVCEO appointees, HVCEO
Deputy Director David Hannon and Ridgefield Emergency Management
Director Heather Burford, who is also Chief of the Fire
Department in Ridgefield.
Other Steering Committee members from the Housatonic Valley
Region are ESF
5 Chair Danbury Emergency Management Director Paul
Estefan and ESF Chair 13 Brookfield Police Chief Robin
"ESF" as used above is a key acronym in this
process. The DESPP 5 planning process includes a variety
of functional area working groups, organized around “emergency
support function” terminology, a national standard
for all EOPs in all jurisdictions. There are fifteen nationally
support functions (ESF).
Due to its dominance in the emergency planning field this
terminology is worth becoming familiar with. Importantly,
the DESPP 5 spending plan for setting grant priorities will
be organized on an ESF by ESF basis.
Of the fifteen national ESF's ten will be activated for
the upcoming DESP 5 regional planning process. The nine
chairs of these ESF’s are also part of the work oriented
1 - Transportation
ESF 2 - Communications
ESF 3 - Public Works and Engineering
ESF 4 - Firefighting
ESF 5 - Emergency Management
ESF 6 - Mass Care, Housing and Human Services
ESF 7 - Resource Support (not yet activated)
ESF 8 - Public Health and Medical Services
ESF 9 - Resource Support (not yet activated)
ESF 10 - Oil and Hazardous Materials
ESF 11 - Agriculture and Natural Resources
ESF 12 - Energy (not yet activated)
ESF 13 - Public Safety and Security
14 - Long term Recovery (not yet activated)
ESF 15 - External Affairs (not yet activated)
Each municipality in the state has an emergency management
director. This position, paid or volunteer, is accompanied
by a local emergency planning committee (LEPC).
Emergency management directors in the HVCEO area and the location
of their emergency operations center (EOC), are as follows:
Thomas Galliford, EOC in Town Hall
- Bridgewater: Justin Platz, EOC in Town Hall
- Brookfield: Wayne Gravius, EOC at Police
Danbury: Paul Estefan, EOC in City Hall
Fairfield: Jean Flynn, EOC at Police Department
Milford: Marla Scribner, EOC at Police Department
Newtown: William Halstead Sr., EOC at Fairfield
- Redding: Police Chief Doug Fuchs and Health
Officer Doug Hartline, EOC at Police Department
Heather Burford, EOC in Town Hall Annex
David Raines, EOC at Sherman Volunteer Fire Department
As with the new DESPP regional emergency operations plan
described above, each municipality prepares a local EOP.
The standard fifteen emergency support functions (ESF) defined
by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Response
Framework will become the organizational structure for local
of their mutual interests with neighboring towns, in 2007
the ten local emergency management directors purchased and
installed in each municipality technically compatible and
coordinated video conferencing equipment. This modernization
project was proposed by the Mayor of Danbury in 2004 and endorsed
by the HVCEO.
new video communications system is used to coordinate local
emergency activities prior to, during and following major
emergencies requiring an intermunicipal response. This equipment
will also facilitate local participation on "live"
internet based emergency management training courses.
this system the nature of a disaster as captured on photos
can be seen by all. Maps of projected airborne or waterborne
chemical plumes and fallout can be quickly shared. Municipal
officials can better coordinate during extreme weather or
transportation emergencies such as a prolonged shutdown of
3. PUBLIC HEALTH
EMERGENCY PLANNING COMMITTEE
departments serving our ten town area have been meeting monthly
since July of 2004 at the HVCEO office. Their purpose is to
advance and coordinate emergency preparedness and response
planning with a public health component.
This activity is under the sponsorship and guidance of
the CT Department of Health (CT DPH). Like CT DESPP, after
9/11 CT DPH added a regional focus to its emergency operations.
These activities are now coordinated with DESPP.
The Chairman of this regional group is Newtown Health District's
Director of Health Donna Culbert. The Vice Chairman is Ridgefield's
Director of Health Edward Briggs.
focus of the group has been the preparation, in cooperation
with CT DPH, of a “Public Health and Medical Services
Regional Emergency Response Plan" for the area.
This document follows the structure of ESF 8 - Public Health
and Medical Services, again demonstrating the interagency
coordinating value of the standardized ESF terminology.
This regional planning work remains active in 2008 and is
now integrated into DESPP Region 5 ESF 8 emergency response
Some important documents relevant to this group:
- During 2006 all ten municipalities approved a regional mutual aid agreement for public health emergencies.
The purpose was to better address threats that could overwhelm
one municipality. The
municipal resource inventories that are part of this mutual
aid agreement, identifying the items to potentially share,
are updated each year.
- In January of 2008 the Committee made a PowerPoint presentation
to members of the Connecticut General Assembly. Activities
and accomplishments of the group were summarized. This informative
accessible as a pdf file.
- A record of the regional pandemic drill of April 2008, using
the Region's new mobile field hospital, is available as a
municipalities approved this regional agreement during the
summer of 2006. The municipal resource inventories that are
part of this mutual aid agreement, identifying the items to
potentially share, are updated each year.
theme at monthly meetings of the Public Health Emergency Planning
Committee is collaborative planning for regional drills and
exercises to test and evaluate the effectiveness of emergency
response plans. Developing a coordinated plan for alternative
care facilities within the HVR as a component of hospital
surge capacity planning is another important activity.
monthly meetings include discussion of numerous topics of
joint interest, such as inter-jurisdictional public health
emergency training in such areas as incident command, crisis
and emergency risk communication, and hot line management.
4. NORTHWEST CT
HAZMAT SERVICE PLANNING
A steering committee for Northwest Connecticut on this subject,
known as the Northwest Regional Hazmat Response Team Advisory
Board, has formed under the leadership of Torrington Fire
Chief John Fields.
The goal is to coordinate and upgrade HAZMAT
response from 42 municipalities by logical subarea, including
the Greater Danbury - New Milford Area as one of the units.
HVCEO appointees Mr. Richard Moss of Bethel and John Mangin
of New Milford are participating.
HVCEO is serving as fiduciary for a state planning grant to
this group which has engaged Robert Tomlinson as its planning
5. HOUSATONIC VALLEY
COUNCIL OF ELECTED OFFICIALS
HVCEO also helps to coordinate the regional emergency planning
efforts above. Specific activities include:
- Reviews in 2003 of municipal emergency
operations plans for conformance with federal emergency
plan standards. A new terrorism annex for each was also
- Since mid-2004 the Council has served as
administrative agent for the finances and contracted consulting
services of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Planning
- In 2005 the Council published a laminated
emergency operations field guide tailored to each community.
- In 2006 it prepared the technical
research report from which the health emergency mutual
aid pact was formulated.
- Since mid-2006 state-local coordination
has been enhanced by including on every HVCEO meeting
agenda an oral report by the DEMHS Region 5 coordinator.