Emergency Management Blogger

Friday, May 26, 2006

San Francisco EM Program Under Scrutiny

The City of San Francisco Office of Emergency Services (OES) Director and the program are under severe scrutiny in that the OES Director was appointed in July 2004 with no field experience and no previous background in emergency management. Previous calls for OES Director's resignation have been rejected.

Is the SF Top Disaster Official Qualified? http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=i_team&id=3443994

This begs the question - what should be the minimum requirements for filling emergency managment positions? Is it acceptable to appoint non-emergency managers to lead positions in emergency management organizations? In light of the Michael D. Brown issue, would you feel comfortable knowing your local emergency program is being run by someone who may have no previous experience or is a political appointee?

That is the debate.

Audit of San Francisco's Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security critical of city's plan...

Management Audit of the Office of Emergency Services


Putting the best face on an audit critical of the Emergency Operations Plan (found here:)

http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/oes/EOP_final_01112005.pdf )

The City of San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newson, says he plans to use the audit to guide the city in its final revision. The audit addressed thirteen areas of the plan to include preparedness, response, communications and coordination, pre-disaster mitigation, pre-disaster recovery planning as well as others. The mayor issued an executive order to implement nineteen of the audit recommendations and expressed confidence in the OES Director. Included in the audit is the OES Director response where it is noted that criticism such as slow expenditure of federal grant monies is not just particular to San Francisco.

The Robert Brigham Blog offers its view of the situation:


Other Views:

All Hands.Net




Saturday, March 11, 2006

It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp

I have noticed a disconcerting trend in the emergency management profession in the past five years in California, and that is the "pimping" of other related public safety disciplines to make a buck off the disaster of the year or the emergency management profession as a whole.

“Pimping” can be loosely defined as - "an individual who, for a fee, supplies another individual with something or to pander, or cater to the desires of others in exchange for money."

After 9-11, many in the public safety realm gravitated to terrorism and homeland security terms and references, as this led to recognition for increased funding, eligibility for grants, and new certifications, and of course prestige. Show me the money!

With stroke of the Presidential and Congressional pens, billions of dollars in funds were thrust into the ring and the dogfights began pitting discipline against discipline, city against city, county against county, and state versus state for their so-called fair share of that money.

After the Gulf Coast Hurricanes and the effects of the greatest natural disaster to date, and the affect of NIMS and ICS mandatory training requirements under the National Response Plan (NRP), I am witnessing great numbers of police officers, especially law enforcement captains, lieutenants, and chief officials as well as a good number of fire administrators now changing their spots and calling themselves "emergency managers." In the wake of 9/11 many officials began renaming their posts "homeland security" posts, or offices, are anything else with a catch phrase that might attract more funding or better yet - personnel.

Their badges still say Fire Department or Police Department – I have not seen a national trend to start calling fire and police departments “Emergency Management Departments.” The hypocrisy is amazing. The arrogance and disrespect in public safety professionals calling themselves emergency managers is to our fellow emergency managers shameful and appalling. Greed drives this activity, re-branding yourself is normal, but the question of the day - is it ethical to call or portray yourself as something you are not?

It seems these days any law enforcement official or firefighter can make claim that they are an "emergency manager" on their business cards and they are out there selling their wares to the communities offering their services as seasoned emergency management consultants, as the one’s who are only uniquely qualified to teach NIMS and the Incident Command System, or to develop emergency plans and the like. What they really are is emergency response experts, which on its face means nothing. We would all hope people who work in the field as public safety officials are experts. That is what they are getting paid for.

Well these field response experts may know a little about ICS, and they may practice it, but lets call it what it is. Why can’t these professionals claim to be what they are - police officers and firefighters. Why must they call themselves emergency managers? – because they can’t market themselves in the current public awareness of what is emergency management. They have to glob on to the emergency management profession to make a buck. They have to sell out themselves out to be something they are not.

I am not embarrassed to call myself an emergency manager. Why then must police officers and firefighters call themselves something they are not – emergency managers? I am not speaking about firefighters and cops who do the emergency managers job 24/7, 365 days a year, full-time, they are emergency managers. Read on…

It is offensive in my opinion, that someone outside of our profession or anyone else who primarily still runs calls in the field using a red light and siren can suddenly refer to themselves as emergency managers. I have been a working professional emergency manager for nearly 10 years, spending all of my time working in the 4 basic elements of real comprehensive emergency management - preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. I spent an additional 15 years as a paramedic and public health administrator, but it is my combined experience and focus on the four tenants of emergency management for the past 10 years that make me an emergency manager – you know, the boring mundane parts of the job.

Many of these so-called new age emergency managers have never written a comprehensive "multi-hazard" functional emergency plan for their municipality, oh maybe a few policies and procedures, or they may contribute occasionally to the development or update of a haz-mat plan, or an evacuation plan or the like on occasion, but that does not qualify anyone to be called an emergency manager.

An emergency manager is someone who spends a great deal of time at their desk, having given up the glory of the red lights and sirens an field work many years ago, to dedicate their lives to these four tenants of emergency management profession - preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery.

Many of these firefighters and cops find their experience in emergency management when they get injured or placed into administration and are thrown into an emergency management role, because someone has to do "that" job. So they write a plan based on what they know, and they can say – "yeah, I wrote a plan." Big deal!

I can get out a police academy or fire academy, and that alone does not make me a police officer or firefighter. I've been to a police academy - graduated class of 1989. However, any law enforcement official will tell you in order to be a cop, you must get field experience, rounded out with time and exposure to the real world elements of the job before you are considered a real police officer or firefighter. Why then, can someone wearing a badge suddenly feel immediately that when thrust into an emergency management chair they are qualified to be called an emergency manager?

The traditions and cultures of the fire service do not allow the probationers to be called anything but that until they complete their first year, and then on the 366th day, they are called firefighters - they are rookie firefighters. It takes a few years to get your legs in public safety, a few years before you are considered one the group, a tight knit group whose culture does not treat one with respect until they have earned it. Put a few years in the field out of the academy, like all have done before them, and you earn the title with the badge, and the prestige that goes with it. It is not handed out like candy. You have to earn it.

The hypocrisy that is evident from the fire and police services shines like the sun. They would be the first to wail and complain if I claimed to be one of them! I graduated third in my class from a police academy many years ago; does that make me a cop? I took some fire science courses at the local community college; does that make me a firefighter? The answer would be - hell no! And rightfully so.

The real emergency managers have written many emergency plans, have spent years (not days) developing their emergency operations centers (EOC), years developing comprehensive mitigation strategies, and over the years, have worked on numerous disaster recovery projects, and trained a great number of their community's staff, city administrators, and elected officials on the principles of incident command and EOC operational procedures. They are the folks in the trenches doing the thankless work while their police & fire commanders and elected officials take credit for their work, experience, blood sweat and tears. I didn’t take the job to get a bunch of awards, certificates and honors, so you'll see few if any, of these trinkets on my walls in my office.

There are many private consultant groups out in great force selling their so-called expertise to our communities stating that they are the only qualified and certified instructors from FEMA/DHS to teach NIMS and ICS, and they are also telling our city managers and elected officials that their full-time emergency managers are not qualified to teach or instruct NIMS and ICS, and that only these so-called consulting agencies (with their retired cops and firefighters) can only certify these classes.

I have some real concerns about a bunch of career cops and firefighters misrepresenting themselves as emergency managers, they are after all just law enforcement officers and firefighters aren’t they?

I justify this statement in that I could be arrested for claiming to be a police officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic under California law, and yet these same people who can claim to be an emergency manager or anything they want to be for the sake of making a buck on our professional status – thus the pimping of our profession.

How many so-called “homeland security experts” ripened on the vine immediately after the creation of DHS and 9/11 have now gravitated back to emergency management in the wake of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Michael D. Brown now claims to be a full-time emergency manager and now works in the offices of Joe Albaugh in Colorado as guess what? – emergency management consultants. Washington Post (11/2005) Homeland Stupidity (11/2005)

I know many emergency managers who work as a civilians in a public safety agency, and trust me – their colleagues are the first one’s to remind them that they are not firefighters and when they walk next door to the police department they also remind them that they are not cops. How then, can these same folks under their same breath, make claim to be something they are truly not – emergency managers. Hypocrisy, plain and simple.

This behavior is not geographic to California, but it is a trend that is very alarming and damaging to our profession. The driving force in all of this of course is money.

There is lots of money to be made off of our profession, hence the term pimping – since we do the work, and now many outsiders want to take the credit and profits for the hard work we do in our profession and keep the money for themselves or their departments.

So I call upon our colleagues to take up this cause and put an end to it. It is this attitude and the actions of some folks out there that are truly harming our country and our ability to prepare the nation. We are supposed to be working together aren’t we?

As was stated clearly in the 78th Academy Awards show – “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” – yes it is, and I hope it gets harder.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Emergency Management Blogger - Survey

Have you experienced increased scrutiny in your job since the gulf coast hurricanes?

Has the scrutinty been good (legitimate), or just a superficial attempt by elected officials to look like they are doing something about disaster readiness?

Thoughts, comments...

More Brown Stuff - don't step in it

From a blog I found it appears that he has an in....


If things don't work out in government, there's always the get-rich-quick promise of government contracting.

Washington Post Reporter Al Kamen reports that Michael Brown, former FEMA Director who resigned in disgrace after the botched Katrina response, is now working the other side of the Katrina money racket:

Former FEMA director Michael D. Brown works for Michael D. Brown LLC, a change-your-address-book information notice said last week. Brown is going into the consulting business with offices here and in Boulder, Colo., the announcement said.

The office here is at 101 Constitution Ave. NW. Hmmm. That's the fancy new building that is also home to the tony Charlie Palmer restaurant. It says he's in Suite 525 East.

Sounds familiar. Oh, it's in the offices of the Allbaugh Co., run by former FEMA director and top Bush aide in Texas Joe M. Allbaugh , a college chum of Brown's who brought him to Washington. Same phone number, too.

Allbaugh, you'll remember, is the founder of the Shaw Group, which quickly secured $100 million for a FEMA housing contract, and represents companies like Halliburton that are seeking more FEMA money.

One big question - why is the media not leaping on this?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Michael D. Brown To Start Emergency Management Consulting Business

Many actors state "I am not a doctor, but I play one on TV." Michael Brown attemped to play a professional emergency manager this summer in the real life drama - Hurricane Katrina.

Now, the man wants to establish a consulting firm to allegedly help others in a monumental attempt to salvage his extremely damaged reputation. I can only speak for myself - but anyone who attempts to hire this man, and pay him for his so-called expertise, would only serve to further damage the emergency management profession.

This man has no credentials in emergency management. He is not a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), and holds no professional credentials as a full-time emergency manager. His claim to fame - his inaction as the former head of FEMA, contributed to hundreds of deaths of civilians in one of the greatest recorded disasters in this country's history.

So folks, what do you think? Please comment

DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Former FEMA Director Michael D. Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

"If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses -- because that goes straight to the bottom line -- then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.

Brown said officials need to "take inventory" of what's going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, critics complained about Brown's lack of formal emergency management experience and e-mails that later surfaced showed him as out of touch with the extent of the devastation.

The lawyer admits that while he was head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency mistakes were made in the response to Katrina. He also said he had been planning to quit before the hurricane hit.

"Hurricane Katrina showed how bad disasters can be, and there's an incredible need for individuals and businesses to understand how important preparedness is," he said.

Brown said companies already have expressed interested in his consulting business, Michael D. Brown LLC. He plans to run it from the Boulder area, where he lived before joining the Bush administration in 2001.