Shortly before New York City issues its plan for managing the emergency response at major disasters, fire department officials still have grave concerns about giving the police department primary responsibility at the scene of a biological or chemical attack, the New York Times reports. The fire department said that allowing the police department to control agencies at the scene of an attack “jeopardizes public safety.” Fire officials argue that their department had the expertise, the training, and the highly specialized units to direct the response a a disaster.
Peter Hayden, the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the fire department, said that while the department would follow the new protocol, the s decision to grant the police primacy at such emergency scenes made the plan dangerously flawed. “If the question was posed today – would the response at a terrorist incident be different than it was on 9/11? – the answer would have to be no,” Hayden said. “Now if that isn’t a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is.” The police department had no comment.