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Legislators, staff tour state Emergency Operations Center


State Reps. Melanie Stambaugh and Hans Zeiger speak with Nancy Bickford,
Intergovernmental Affairs and Policy Director for the Washington Military Dept.

Legislators, staff tour state Emergency Operations Center

The Washington Emergency Management Division played host to legislators and their staffers during an open house on Dec. 1 in the state Emergency Operations Center.

Displaying a large map behind him showcasing ice, wind, fire and an assortment of other disasters across every county in the state, Emergency Management Director Robert Ezelle noted, “It doesn’t matter where you live, a disaster can occur anywhere.”


EMD Director Robert  Ezelle says that disaster scan occur anywhere in the state.

A large focus on a two-hour briefing, which included questions from attendees, was on the recent wildfires burning more than 1 million acres over the course of the summer. That compares to 2014, when the fires burned 386,972 acres, according to the annual report produced by the National Interagency Fire Center.

Major General Bret D. Daugherty, The Adjutant General, told legislators and their staffers that he wants to get prepared earlier in the face of even more potential fires next summer.

“It’s critical we do the training before the fire season because once fire season starts, all the trainers are busy putting out the fire,” Daugherty said, adding that he thinks the Guard could have hundreds more soldiers with the necessary “red cards” needed to combat wildfires.


EMD Director Robert Ezelle and Major General Bret D. Daugherty field a question
from state Rep. Roger Goodman, right.

Training might take state funding though, Daugherty said, because funding on the federal side keeps shrinking.

Ezelle also noted that the state Emergency Management Division is responsible for $20 million in federal grants, but that’s down 70 percent compared to three or four years ago. Those funds get shared with local partners and other state agencies, which means critical Emergency Management functions are doing more with less.


Chris Utzinger gives a tour of the Alert & Warning Center.

“We’re doing the best we have with what we have and we have about 80 great people that work in this building,” Ezelle said.

In addition to fires, legislators heard presentations about the planning efforts underway for earthquake preparedness and a regionwide exercise known as Cascadia Rising and they took a tour of the state Emergency Operations Center and the Alert & Warning Center.


Legislators pose for a photo with Gen. Daugherty .