Prepositioned Equipment Program needs revision, says internal FEMA review

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A Federal Emergency Management Agency program to preposition equipment for first responders in 11 locations across the United States should be significantly revised, says a bottom up review of the program commissioned by the agency.

The review (.pdf) is dated Feb. 3 and was obtained by FierceHomelandSecurity through a Freedom of Information Act request. Rick Martinez, the Sacramento County, Calif., chief of emergency services conducted the review.

The program, known formally as the Prepositioned Equipment Program, "has lacked a concept of operations which has resulted in a diversity of equipment that has clouded its mission," the review states.

The current cache of equipment includes items requiring extensive training not generally available to many first responders, ongoing testing and expensive maintenance. In addition, some of the personal protective equipment needs fit testing before deployment, "making its use during a major event unlikely."

Meanwhile, thanks to the economic slowdown, many local first responder agencies have "lost the ability to maintain some of the basic equipment that would be required to manage a significant event."

The review includes a proposal to revise the equipment cache so it includes more basic usable equipment that first responder would already generally know how to operate and items that have proven to be in short supply in most major events, such as tents and generators.

The review also notes that the program suffers from a lack awareness among its intended users. Most "have little to no knowledge of the program or how to access it." In fact, some state and local jurisdictions are attempting to establish a similar program, the review notes.

For more:
download the bottom up review of the FEMA Prepositioned Equipment Program (.pdf)

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