The ANSI Homeland Security Standards Panel Focuses on Effective Emergency Preparedness

"What is preparedness? Why do we do it? Why do we have it?"

These were the questions posed by Joseph Pfeifer, chief of counterterrorism and emergency preparedness for the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) during his keynote address at the fifth plenary meeting of the ANSI Homeland Security Standards Panel (ANSI-HSSP), held Sept. 25-26 at New York University.

The plenary meeting on emergency preparedness brought together nearly 100 professionals, experts and leaders from the homeland security standards and conformity assessment community to address the various security issues facing the nation today.

According to Pfeifer, standards need to take capability, capacity, proficiency and deployment into consideration. He expressed his belief that if we can provide measurable standards and incentives for emergency preparedness, the public and private sectors will work hard to achieve them.

Pfeifer concluded his remarks by stating, "The 9/11 Commission report identified a lack of connecting the dots. We in emergency preparedness continue to strive to connect these dots, both locally and nationally, and standards are a key factor in helping to make sure that we are successful in these efforts."

Also during the meeting, Dr. Bert Coursey, standards executive, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, provided an update on the DHS standards technical program and its efforts in the areas of emergency preparedness and response.

A panel session on assessment, accreditation and certification in private sector preparedness and business continuity provided insight into how several major corporations address emergency preparedness and how standards, especially NFPA 1600, play an important role in their efforts.

Additional panel sessions examined public sector preparedness; credentialing for emergency responders and on-scene personnel; and the work of standards developers, such as ASTM International, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Code Council (ICC), in developing standards solutions for emergency preparedness.

Meeting participants met in breakout sessions to identify existing standards work, where there are gaps, and possible action items for the ANSI-HSSP and the standards communities. The areas of focus for these breakouts were planning for a global pandemic; mass/public transportation security; and all-hazards planning, response and recovery. Additional potential areas for ANSI-HSSP future exploration were raised throughout the 2 days of the conference, such as accommodating the needs of persons with disabilities in emergency preparedness standards.

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