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Fire Department looking for emergency planning help

Littleton Fire Chief Joe Mercieri speaks Monday at an informational meeting in the Community House Annex about Littleton’s Emergency Response Plan. Art McGrath. (click for larger version)
December 16, 2009
LITTLETON—In preparing to deal with natural or manmade disasters, the Littleton Fire Department is looking to use all resources available, including local businesses.

"In an area like this we are very dependent on others to help us during an emergency, such as the mutual aid system," said Fire Chief Joe Mercieri, during an informational meeting held Monday morning in the Littleton Community House Annex about the Littleton Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and the town's Emergency Response Plan (ERP). About 20 residents attended the meeting. A second meeting was held that night at the same location.

Besides informing people about the committee and the emergency plan, Mercieri was looking to get volunteers from local businesses to join the committee, which is made up of residents from many facets of community life, including healthcare, education and emergency services. While it's a diverse group, the committee is light on representatives of industry and the business community, he said.

The work of revising the towns' ERP began in 2005 and continued into 2006 and in some areas continues to this day, he said. The process will probably continue through 2010, Mercieri said. The purpose of the plan, he said, "is to provide a framework for local government to provide assistance in an expeditious manner to those who need it."

The emergencies can run the gamut from fires, floods, ice storms, snowstorms, hazardous material spills or even radiological contamination or terrorism.

"This may be Littleton, New Hampshire but we are required by federal statute to have response plans in place for those contingencies [radiological and terrorism]," Mercieri said. Plans are in place for each type of emergency, which have to be updated as new information becomes available, he said. He noted as an example the recent installation of a 10,000 gallon propane tank on Riverside Drive, which means the ERP will have to be updated to take that into account.

In order to facilitate its assistance, the Fire Department needs the contact information for each business, including alarm companies and codes to silence audible alarms during an incident, though Mercieri noted the department would not be able—and did not want—codes to disable alarms. They would also like a list of what hazardous materials there are in a building in case of a fire, he said.

Also each business should go online with Grafton County Dispatch to register with Code Red Emergency Notification System. What is needed to register is to provide a name and contact information in order to receive an automated message from the system, Mercieri said. The messages can be sent to a regular phone, cell phone or even e-mail, or all the above, whichever method is preferred. This can be used even if the power is done, though if phone lines are down plans are in place to go door to door, house to house, Mercieri said.

Individuals can also sign up to be contacted.

Part of the work reaching out to businesses is not only to determine how to help those businesses in case of an emergency but also how those businesses can help the town in an emergency.

"In a major incident we'll need your help," Mercieri said.

In case of an emergency, Mercieri said he would like those businesses that can to provide assistance to provide a list of potential resources. These resources can include personnel with certain kids of expertise, or it can include equipment such as portable lighting, building material, water pumps, generators, heaters, food and transportation, he said. Businesses would be compensated for the use of their material, he said. A memorandum of understanding would be drawn up in advance for each business, he said.

Contact forms for businesses can be picked up the Fire Station. More information is available from Mercieri at 444-2137.

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