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FEMA grant used for township emergency center

By Dana Casadei

The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees on Monday, October 9, approved the spending of $155,572.43 to purchase new audio/video equipment, laptops, and a charging cart for the township’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), using money from the $240,000 Federal Emergency Agency (FEMA) grant the township received.

Previously, the laptops used in the EOC were provided from older, recycled equipment, but Will Babinchak, township director of information technology, commented the emergency center is just too important to keep going that route.

“If we deem a computer not good enough to use in the treasury or the IT department, it really shouldn’t be in the EOC,” he pointed out.

The charging cart will hold 24 laptops, which will all be located in the EOC, and be taken out for table-top exercises and monitored by IT to make sure all are running as they should.

The laptops that will be used in the EOC will come preprogrammed with important websites, and be turn-key, which means they’re built, supplied, or installed complete and ready to operate. This way, if there is an actual emergency where people would be needed in the EOC – such as severe weather events or an active shooter scenario – there would be no set up needed, as personnel would be able to jump right in and start working. No time would be wasted in trying to remember passwords or going back to their office because they forgot their laptop.

Fire Chief John LeRoy – who spoke over audio but was not physically in attendance at the meeting – added that during the six months they were working in the EOC during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic they found a significant amount of inefficiencies. They were unable to complete conferences calls and FaceTimes, and could not get that information on to a TV.

“We learned a lot during that and we built what we learned then into these proposals to rectify that,” he said.

These new laptops are going to be able to increase efficiency in the EOC across the board, according to LeRoy.

The motion for approval of the spending passed 7-0.


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