WMATA Brings On Fire/Rescue Liaison

This move puts a uniformed fire officer in the nerve center of the Metrorail system 40 hours a week to help coordinate emergency communication between the agency and first responders.

Washington, D.C.'s transit agency, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, this month has added a full-time fire/rescue liaison officer position at its Rail Operations Control Center. This move puts a uniformed fire officer in the nerve center of the Metrorail system 40 hours a week to help coordinate emergency communication between the agency and first responders; the new position resulted from ongoing discussions WMATA officials are having with fire chiefs in the region.

"The new fire/rescue liaison at the Rail Operations Control Center gives first responders 'eyes and ears' on Metrorail operations and will serve to further strengthen the coordination between our operations staff and emergency personnel," said Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik. "I want to thank MWCOG Fire Chiefs Chair Marc Bashoor for his leadership and look forward to continuing our productive relationship."

The agency has taken this and other safety actions in response to a Jan. 12 incident when smoke filled a tunnel near the L'Enfant Plaza Station, prompting an evacuation of the station. WMATA says it has implemented a number of additional safety measures to improve emergency response, including increased training, emergency drills, and better radio testing protocols "that provide a real time outage map for controllers and first responders."

The liaison position is part of an agreement with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Fire Chiefs Committee, which Bashoor chairs. "The fire/rescue liaison position in the ROCC has already provided crucial support to WMATA and fire department incident commanders,” he said. "In the first couple of days, the liaison provided support for more than two dozen fire- and EMS-related incidents affecting multiple jurisdictions' 911 centers and emergency response operations."

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