Sunday, October 22, 2017
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Agency History
Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security (FCEM&HS) officially began operation in 1952 as the Columbus and Franklin County Civil Defense Organization (CFCCDO). The agency's responsibilities and duties were the result of an informal group organized in 1950 by Columbus Mayor James A. Rhodes. Mayor Rhodes established a group of volunteers to assist in warning citizens of expected air raids by enemy aircraft. The volunteers would also assist fire and police departments in rescue operations. The first president of the CFCCDO was local attorney Fred Stanton.

In 1953, a nationwide organization was formed to promote Civil Defense, a concept and plan that had become popular due to increasing tensions with foreign countries.

It was during the early years that Civil Defense organizations had large outdoor sirens installed to be used as the primary method of warning citizens of enemy air raids. Franklin County was among the first in the country to have an effective operating siren system. It was also during this time that the Emergency Broadcast System was expanded to be used as an additional means to warn citizens. CFCCDO was responsible for both methods of warning.

During the 1960s, all local and national Civil Defense organizations placed a high priority on public and personal fallout shelters. In Franklin County, the CFCCDO took an active role in identifying public fallout shelter sites and stocking those shelters with supplies. By the late 1960s, the mission of Civil Defense was beginning to change. Less emphasis was placed on enemy air raids and more attention was placed on how the civil defense network could respond to natural disasters such as tornados, winter storms and floods.

In early 1972, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Pact (SALT) and the Antiballistic Missile (ABM) treaty. This caused a further de-emphasis of the original Civil Defense mission. Responding to changes in 1974, officials of Columbus and Franklin County developed and signed an agreement that changed the direction and responsibilities of the old CFCCDO and also changed the name of the organization to the Columbus and Franklin County Disaster Services Agency (CFCDSA). The agency's responsibilities were shifted to support a network of volunteers, amateur radio operators and professional planners to establish and maintain programs that would allow local communities to be prepared for disasters and allow local fire and police departments to better respond to those emergencies. The agency also reorganized the old siren warning system. The system was changed to warn citizens of tornado sightings instead of enemy air raids.

In 1987, the agency continued to change and grow. New attention was placed on hazardous chemical incidents and the preparation and training involved in responding to those incidents. The agency began developing countywide emergency plans for disasters. These plans would help response agencies plan and better understand their roles should a major incident or disaster occur. As a direct result the political jurisdictions in and including Franklin County signed the 1988 County-Wide Agreement, changing the agency's name to the Emergency Management Agency for Franklin County. The Agreement vested EMAFC with the responsibility to coordinate "emergency management activities within Franklin County", a role "of paramount importance to all of the local governments of the county...."

The agency continues to grow and take on more responsibilities in homeland security, and the name was changed in 2005 to Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security (FCEM&HS). Nuclear attacks are now just one of the potential disasters the agency plans for. Priorities have shifted to more probable disaster situations that will have an immediate effect on the population such as flooding or terrorist attacks. The agency continues to evaluate and expand planning and training for threats to the population. FCEM&HS has established programs with all local hospitals and is constantly updating the training offered to first responders.

Today the agency is a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week response agency. Employees rotate response duties on a weekly basis. The agency is ready to support emergency response to severe weather, hazardous materials spills, aircraft accidents, and any other incident in the County that may require our assistance.
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