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City votes to adopt large-scale disaster plan

Should the City of Lackawanna ever face a large-scale disaster, city officials want to preclude the Federal Emergency Management Agency from taking over local operations.

At a special noon meeting Friday, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt a disaster plan. Actually, the vote authorizes Lackawanna's participation in the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which is required to qualify for federal resources and funding for disaster preparedness and relief.

"Everybody in the city has to be trained to some degree in the disaster plan," said Council President Ronald R. Spadone. "If you don't get trained, if you don't qualify, you can't qualify for disaster aid."

Firefighter Ken Drozdowski, the city's municipal training officer, has gone through the process and will spend the next several weeks training others -- municipal officials among them. All training must be completed by Aug. 1.

In a disaster, municipal officials would be moved to a safe location so city governance could continue, Drozdowski explained. Under NIMS, city emergency personnel would coordinate with Erie County's specialized units, such as its hazardous materials team.

Lackawanna has many elements of risk, Drozdowski said, including the presence of hazardous materials -- particularly those transported along the rail lines in the city's First Ward.

Besides the funding issue, not having a plan would leave Lackawanna open to FEMA saying, "We're going to come in and take charge," Drozdowski said. "Not only is it a good idea," Drozdowski said of NIMS, "it's mandated."

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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