Local authorities recognized for emergency planning

Jun 20, 2019

MARION —  Marion Fire Chief Brian Jackvony and Police Chief John Garcia were recognized on Thursday, June 20 for their commitment to  handling emergency situations and hazardous materials. 

Douglas Forbes of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) presented the two chiefs with MEMA patches for their contributions to the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).

The LEPC was founded about a year ago to better handle harbor-related emergency situations such as hurricanes, and diesel spills in the town harbor.

The committee consists of first responders in the fire and police departments as well as local press, the Board of Health, and transportation services from the Council On Aging.

So far the LEPC has received $1,150 from the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness grant, and used the funds to buy four tablets for the fire department. The tablets are equipped with plans and apps that help first responders handle hazardous materials.

On February 8, 2019 first responders effectively contained a diesel spill at Barden’s Boat Yard in Marion. Responders and employees at the boatyard used absorbent pads and a floating containment barrier called a boom to prevent approximately 150 gallons of diesel fuel from contaminating the harbor.

Jackvony plans to hold a tabletop exercise where members of the LEPC will discuss how each contributing organization would work to handle a hypothetical emergency. The exercise will likely be focused on the harbor due to its importance to the town and vulnerability to contamination from spills, such as the one in February.

Garcia also cited hurricanes as a primary concern for the LEPC. As a coastal community, Marion is geographically sensitive to storms, and potential delays in evacuations can threaten public safety.

Forbes gave LEPC members a fact sheet on hurricanes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The fact sheet advises residents to evacuate prior to a hurricane if they are told to do so by authorities, or if they live in a mobile home, near a floodplain or body of water, or otherwise feel in danger. Evacuating residents are urged to stick to designated routes, and use one vehicle to mitigate gridlock traffic.

The Marion LEPC is currently in its two year “start up” phase. The next steps in the MEMA certification process are the “provisional,” and “fully-certified” phases, which are valid for three and five years, respectively. Forbes said the LEPC may be able to skip the provisional phase due to “an outstanding job” in the committee’s first year of operation.