Updated: 06-15-2004 04:57:02 PM

New York City Firefighters And Police Officers To Divide Emergency Response Duties Under New Plan

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Bloomberg administration announced Tuesday that it will have a written protocol within 30 days detailing how the police and fire departments will divide emergency response duties - a matter that continues to generate contention.

A key provision of the Citywide Incident Management System gives overall authority over chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear emergencies, as well as hazardous materials incidents, to the NYPD, even though those areas traditionally have been considered areas of Fire Department expertise.

Despite opposition from the Fire Department and some members of the City Council, Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno told a City Council committee that he is working on a written protocol that will be finished within 30 days and that the plan will be implemented by Oct. 1.

Both Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said they support the plan, despite objections that it confuses lines of authority.

``I believe it is the best system for a large urban environment like New York,'' said Kelly.

Said Scoppetta: ``I think it's an important first step in delineating issues of command and control.''

But council members were skeptical, saying that in several situations outlined in the plan - including hazmat emergencies and explosions - neither the police nor fire departments are clearly in charge.