For Immediate Release: October 7, 2022
Contact: email@example.com, (212) 393-2126
DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS CONDUCTS FULL-SCALE EMERGENCY RESPONSE EXERCISES AT FORT TOTTEN
Government Emergency Responders, Utility Companies and Professional Engineers Take Part in Multidisciplinary Disaster Training to Bolster New York City’s Emergency Response Toolkit
New York, NY – Earlier today, personnel from the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) along with our partner organizations wrapped up the 2022 New York City Continuity of Operations (COOP) Full Scale Exercise Training, a 10-day disaster preparedness program held every year in Fort Totten, Queens. During this annual training exercise, participants rehearsed the latest emergency protocols for dealing with wide-scale natural disasters affecting buildings in an urban environment. The practical training received during this annual program has been effectively utilized by the Department over the years, when called upon to assist with recovery efforts during natural disasters. Be it floods, fires, blizzards, or hurricanes, regular training exercises like these helps put New York City in the best possible position when responding to real wide-scale emergencies, by maintaining a large pool of trained building professionals ready to assist when disaster strikes.
“While we can’t prevent natural disasters and other emergencies from happening in our City, we can be ready for them through rigorous preparation and multi-agency collaboration,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich. “This training has already proven useful, as shown by our team helping with recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. We are grateful to all of the participating organizations for their continued partnership and support.”
This full-scale exercises at FDNY’s facilities at Fort Totten represent a continuation of similar smaller-scale exercises conducted throughout the year. Regular COOP trainings provide a proactive playbook for city agencies and our partner organizations when responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. In addition to DOB, FDNY’s Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness (CTDP) Unit, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), Con Edison, National Grid, the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) and on-call emergency contract engineering firms helped to coordinate, plan and participate in this year’s exercises.
Each year, the exercises include simulated field operations and structural damage assessments, which provides practical training on the use of the latest mapping and logistics technologies used to improve New York City’s readiness in the event of a major disaster. In addition, the 10-day event includes tabletop situation exercises and intensive classroom seminars, where participants discussed new tactics and procedures that have arisen from the City’s response to recent severe weather events. Topics of training include building damage assessments, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and NYC Construction Codes requirements, the use of ArcGIS/Esri mapping technology, the Citywide Incident Management System (CIMS), and effective communication tactics in the aftermath of a disaster.
Using the skills learned in these trainings, DOB engineers and inspectors can rapidly survey and document thousands of buildings over a large area, and when necessary, intervene at structurally damaged buildings that are posing further danger to the public. These skills have previously been put to use by the Department's emergency response professionals in real life situations, including the City's response after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2004, tornado damage in Brooklyn and Queens in 2007, Superstorm Sandy in New York City in 2012, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, devastating earthquakes in Puerto Rico in 2020, and Hurricane Ida in New York City in 2021.
“It’s important we take part in the Department of Buildings training exercise and other similar drills,” said Bryan Grimaldi, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, National Grid. “Working together with a variety of city agencies, the FDNY and other first responders helps us plan for a coordinated response in the event of an emergency to ensure public safety. Preparation and planning are the best defenses against natural disasters and emergencies.”
“These exercises help New York City first responders remain the most skilled in the world,” said Matthew Sniffen, Con Edison’s vice president, Emergency Preparedness. “That is essential as severe weather events strike more frequently and our building stock becomes more diverse and complex. The Continuity of Operations program, along with the other training Con Edison employees complete throughout the year, ensures that we will be ready when New Yorkers need us.”
“For over 10 years SEAoNY has partnered with DOB to train engineers in the industry for disaster response. The COOP training at Fort Totten is a necessary way to provide the hands-on training engineers need. It's programs like the COOP training that help our city stay prepared,” said Erik Madsen, PE, SEAoNY’s Board President.