Fire Official Assigned to Metro to Boost Coordination

Metro has added a fire/rescue liaison to its "nerve center" following the fatal smoke incident in January.

In an announcement Monday, Metro said the new staff member in the Rail Operations Control Center will help coordinate communication between Metro and first responders in the event of an emergency.

The fire official working 40 hours a week will coordinate emergency response, develop policy recommendations and provide additional emergency training for controllers.

"The new fire/rescue liaison at the Rail Operations Control Center gives first responders 'eyes and ears' on Metrorail operations and will serve to further strengthen the coordination between our operations staff and emergency personnel," Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik said in a statement.

Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said he thought the creation of the position could help people coping with emergencies.

"Moving forward, it is going to make a difference for somebody," he said. "...In terms of getting the right information to the right place at the right time."

The post was created July 1, Metro said. Since then, the officer on duty has provided support for more than two dozen fire and EMS-related incidents, Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said.

Fire department leadership said they had been asking for the creation of the position for more than a decade. Metro put up $250,000 for its creation. 

Since smoke filled a Metro train on Jan. 12, injuring dozens of people and killing a 61-year-old Alexandria woman, Metro has increased training and emergency drills and enhanced radio testing protocols.

A lack of coordination and cooperation between Metro and the D.C. Fire & EMS Department has been said to have contributed to the disaster.

Metro said the creation of the position will enhance safety in the system. But a Metro spokesman said Metro is unable to comment on how the new position relates to the L’Enfant Plaza incident because it is still under investigation.

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