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MAC goes on attack in fire

Lynn BurtonStaff Writer

New emergency response aspect proves worth even prior to approvalMeyer said the MAC system allowed the county to call in 100 National Guard reservists less than a day after the June 8 wildfire started.A few days later, the MAC system was used to coordinate federal, state and local agencies to quickly prepare for possible flooding in the Mitchell Creek area.”It was pretty amazing,” Meyer. “Usually, it would have taken a week’s time.”MAC stands for the Multiple Agency Coordination system, a component of the National Interagency Incident Management System and the Incident Command System.The MAC team is headed by the people who hold the positions of county emergency coordinator, sheriff, county administrator and road and bridge director. All can put resources where they are needed.The MAC team can also call other state, federal and outside agencies, such as the Red Cross, for help. Meyer said at the Coal Seam Fire’s peak, almost 20 different agencies were involved.A key element to the MAC system is that it handles support and mitigation after the incident responders, such as firefighters, have done their jobs.The MAC team is also in charge of the sometimes complex task of finding state and local funds for fighting wildfires and responding to other emergencies, which could include terrorist attacks, Meyer said.The MAC duties are outlined in a six-page standard operating procedures paper. The paper explains:-The county coordinator’s responsibilities.-The county commissioners’ duties during an emergency.-The situation assessment unit, whose tasks include the determination of the incident’s status.-The resources unit, which identifies essential and excess resources.-The information unit for dealing with the news media.Meyer said the MAC team meets monthly to fine-tune their procedures. “We pick ourselves apart to figure out how to do things better,” he said.Meyer and others have been working on the MAC system for about 18 months, but the Coal Seam Fire is the first time it was fully activated. Garfield County’s handling of the fire and its aftermath drew praise from Federal Emergency Management Agency regional director David Maurstad last week when he toured the Mitchell Creek area.”It looks like there’s a good team effort here on what can be done to prevent further damage,” Maurstad said at the time.Word of Garfield County’s MAC approach has also spread to other Colorado counties. “La Plata County was in here last week to get information on it,” Meyer said.


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