Grant funds to pay for protective equipment
City Hall security tightens
Record Managing Editor
The city of Madison's police and fire departments will get $70,320 to purchase protective equipment for first responders in the event of weapons of mass destruction incidents.
At the Monday night meeting of the city council, Mayor Jan Wells said security measures at City Hall would be stepped up as part of the city's Homeland Security efforts.
The money to purchase the safety equipment comes from a grant by the Alabama Emergency Management Agency. The Huntsville-Madison County EMA is the administrator of the grant. The Madison City Council approved a resolution for the city to enter into an agreement with the local EMA to provide the funding.
Madison Fire Chief Ralph Cobb said his department plans to purchase several self-contained breathing apparatuses and communications equipment. The police department will purchase safety masks used in the event of a destructive biological event.
"The self-contained breathing apparatuses are part of a equipment upgrade that we have under way," Cobb said. "Regarding the communications equipment, if you remember back at the World Trade Center disaster, the only way to know who was and who wasn't on duty that day was at the end of the day when roll call was done. This equipment will enable us to manage and keep track of our personnel during an emergency situation."
Rusty Russell, director of the Huntsville-Madison County EMA, said both departments will purchase the equipment and invoices will be furnished to him so that the EMA can reimburse the city for the purchases.
"There is a specific list that both departments have access to when purchasing the equipment," Russell said. "Both departments must also present a plan on how the equipment will be used and exercises will be conducted to make sure the equipment is being used properly."
Cobb and Russell said the city of Madison is considered a "secondary population center" due to its proximity to the city of Huntsville – thus, enabling it to receive this grant. Russell said this is the first of several opportunities Madison will get to receive such funding for this purpose. Councilman David Buschmann said the Center for Disease Control might allocate funds to Madison at a later date.
"You hope that such equipment is never used, but if it's needed, the personnel who will need it will have it," Russell said.
Members of the city council expressed its desire to have a Madison representative on the Huntsville-Madison County EMA board. Buschmann also asked the city council to consider putting local funding into the EMA. Buschmann said the city of Madison does not give any funds to the local EMA at the present time. Council member Cynthia McCollum said before any funds from the city is allocated to the EMA, she'd like to make sure local representation is in place.
The council appointed Chief Cobb as its EMA liaison.
In other items addressed at the city council meeting, security measures at City Hall will be tightened. Mayor Wells said traffic access in and around the building will be limited and a sign-in, sign-out sheet for those using City Hall will be soon be administered in the front lobby.
"In lieu of the recent developments and as part of our local Homeland Security efforts, these measures are under way here at City Hall," Wells said. "It will take some time to put these measures into place and I encourage the community to work with us in our plans."