Should "First Responders" Include Demolition Contractors?

An organization representing demolition contractors believes the definition of "first responder" needs to be expanded to include its members.

The National Association of Demolition Contractors (NADC) notes that first response teams traditionally have been made up of police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. In a new position paper, the group points out that bringing experienced demolition contractors – equipped with specialized equipment and who are knowledgeable about hazardous materials – could aid in rescue and recovery operations alongside traditional first responders.

"We believe demolition contractors can supplement the work of police, firefighters and EMTs with the on-site equipment and expertise to help save lives, assist in recovery efforts and make disaster sites safer for the community," said Michael R. Taylor, executive director of NADC.

According to Taylor, many demolition contractors already have been involved in responding to disasters, including the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Senate Building anthrax decontamination, the recovery and final demolition of the Alfred Murrah Building in Oklahoma City and the cleanup following the 1989 California earthquakes.

"We also have some members who have been recruited by their local fire departments to be on standby to provide assistance whenever large fires break out," Taylor added.

To obtain a copy of the NADC report "Demolition Contractors Can Strengthen First Response Team Efforts," visit www.nadc.org.

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