New York fire chief Peter Hayden says the city’s policy putting police in charge after any terrorism incident “does not make sense.” The New York Daily News says Hayden was the only official at a City Council Public Safety Committee hearing to challenge Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to give the Police Department command at virtually all emergency scenes. The most controversial element puts the police in charge of hazardous material incidents where chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threats may be involved.
“In a crisis, people’s vision narrows to their own responsibilities,” Hayden said, recalling the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. So police commanders never told fire colleagues “about the top 15 floors glowing red and the possibility of collapse.” The new policy is confusing, Hayden said. “If they’re confused, and I’m confused and my firefighters are confused and the police officers on the street are going to be confused, there will be a compromise in safety. That’s what this is all about,” said Hayden, who advocated both departments share command of all scenes.