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Emergency Operations Center a possibility for new Tilton facility

September 30, 2009
TILTON — Though no decision was made, the Life Safety Building Committee discussed the possibility of housing an Emergency Operations Center in Tilton's new police station or life safety building at its meeting Wednesday.

Regional Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Jim Richardson and Cindy Richards from Homeland Security and Emergency Management were on hand to answer questions and provide information about EOCs.

In the event of a local or regional emergency, such as a severe ice storm or flood, 14 towns that comprise Region 6 can be called on to assist areas hardest hit by any natural disaster or public health emergency. The Multi-Agency Coordinating Entity oversees local EOCs, of which there are three in Region 6. These EOC's, Richardson told the committee, are locations where agencies can gather and coordinate efforts and resources in an emergency.

"We look for key infrastructure components," he said. "A generator, multiple phone lines, fax machines, a two-way radio and internet."

Police Captain Owen Wellington is a member of the committee and further explained that the room designated as an EOC need not be kept solely for that purpose.

"Right now we have a room for that," Wellington said, "that's also our cafeteria. But, it's small, and if you get 10 people in there it's noisy."

Not all emergencies require the opening of an EOC, but when necessary, the space would need to accommodate the equipment for communications, and emergency, legal and financial decision-making personnel. These people would also require access to showers, bathroom facilities, food and a place to rest in a long-term emergency.

"It makes sense to have an EOC in a life safety building," Wellington said, "because we would have all of that already available."

Wellington suggested that having an EOC in any new police and/or fire facility would mean they could also use that space for a training room on a regular basis, something that would benefit both departments.

Richards advised the committee that there are opportunities for assistance in the development of such a facility.

"There are 50/50 emergency management grants out there. So, as far as funding, we can assist in that," she said. "Every community should have an EOC."

The LSBC asked for clarification on Special Operations Units and what needs they would have in a life safety complex. Wellington explained that a SOU was not a space-retaining entity. Rather, the SOU is a mobile unit that goes wherever it is needed and would not be housing equipment or vehicles at a Tilton facility.

"They're just a group we belong to," he told the committee. "There's no specific headquarters for the SWAT trucks and equipment."

Later in the evening LSBC members of the building and design sub-committee announced that a decision had been made on an architect for the project. Sub-committee members Wellington, Pat Consentino and Vince Kondrotas said they had narrowed their choices to three and an alternate after reviewing all proposals they received. After conducting interviews with the finalists, they were recommending Goudreau Associates, PLLC of Chester.

Consentino said the price originally presented by Goudreau was higher than the committee wanted but representatives reviewed their design and came back with a lower, more acceptable cost.

"They have knowledge in life safety buildings, a lot of experience and presented themselves very professionally," Consentino reported.

Kondrotas noted that Goudreau could also meet the guidelines of the committee. They recommended forwarding the firm's proposal to the selectmen for further review and consideration.

Vince Paratore, part of a sub-committee on public relations for the group, announced that a date for a public hearing on the progress of the LSBC has been set. The sub-committee will be preparing mailings and placing public notices in the press to inform voters of Tilton and Northfield about the hearing, scheduled for Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Winnisquam Regional High School cafetorium. At that time the committee will offer a PowerPoint presentation on their findings to date and explain the process by which their decisions have been made.

The committee also welcomed new LSBC member Andrea Keon, deputy town clerk for Tilton, who stepped in to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Dick Montembeault last month.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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