How the Howard County Fire Department Ensures Safety and Compliance Through Its Incident Command System

The Maryland Fire Service Safety and Health Task Force meets at least once a year to review the health and safety of firefighters in the state. Hazard is defined as a possible source or cause of harm or difficulty, natural or man-made, when the need to protect students, employees, visitors and property is of utmost importance. This is determined through a comprehensive analysis conducted in the Office of Emergency Management and Risk Assessment (HIRA) of the Howard County Office of Emergency Management. Protective Action is a specific, predefined response used in emergency incidents to ensure the safety and well-being of the people involved.

This could include the closure of a school, the closure of a support center, or emergency procedures such as closing, modifying the lockdown, sheltering in place, evacuation, etc. The Plant Captain is responsible for implementing the emergency operations plans (EOP) of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) must develop and maintain operating procedures that define the authority, functions, responsibilities, training requirements, resources, services to be performed, and the basic organizational structure of the fire and rescue department. This consensus standard applies to all members of public safety departments that provide rescue, firefighting, emergency medical, hazardous materials mitigation, special operations, and other emergency services in Maryland.

The purpose of this Consensus Standard is to provide a policy for the development of a health and safety standard by local fire and rescue departments in Maryland to protect members during emergency operations. The Howard County Fire Department (HCFD) takes its responsibility for safety and compliance seriously. The department reviews its Incident Command System (ICS) on an annual basis to ensure that it meets all applicable standards. The review process includes an assessment of existing policies and procedures as well as an evaluation of any new regulations or guidelines that may have been issued since the last review. The HCFD also conducts regular drills and exercises to test its ICS. These drills are designed to simulate real-world scenarios so that personnel can practice their response in a safe environment.

The drills also help identify any areas where additional training may be needed or where changes need to be made to existing policies or procedures. Finally, the HCFD works closely with other local agencies such as law enforcement and emergency medical services to ensure that all personnel are familiar with their roles in an emergency situation. This helps ensure that everyone is prepared to respond quickly and effectively when an incident occurs. By conducting regular reviews of its ICS and engaging in regular drills and exercises, the Howard County Fire Department is able to ensure that it is meeting all safety and compliance standards. This helps protect both personnel and citizens alike.

Constance Kaukola
Constance Kaukola

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