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Home > City Departments > Emergency Management Services > Section III: Response

Section III: Response

I. Response Organization and Assignment of Responsibilities

A. Mayor's Responsibilities, Powers, and Succession

(1) The Mayor is ultimately responsible for City emergency response activities and:

    (a) may take personal command of the City emergency response organization if the scope and magnitude of the emergency indicates the necessity of personal management and direction of the response and recovery operations,

    (b) controls the use of all City owned resources and facilities for disaster response,

    (c) may declare a local state of emergency in consultation with the Disaster Coordinator and Corporation Counsel and may promulgate emergency orders and waive local laws, ordinances, and regulations,

    (d) may request assistance from the County and through the County, the State when it appears that the emergency will escalate beyond the capability of City resources,

    (e) may provide assistance at the request of other local governments through pre-existing mutual aid agreements

    ((f)may designate a Public Information Officer (PIO)

(2) If the Mayor is unable, due to absence or incapacitation, to perform the functions described in the preceding section A(1), the following line of command and succession has been established by City of Buffalo to ensure continuity of government and the direction of emergency operations:

    (a) Council President

    (b) President pro tempore of the Council

B. The Role of the Disaster Coordinator

(1) Definition – the Disaster Coordinator (DC) is the party overseeing a disaster/incident and reporting directly to the Mayor. Depending on the scope of the disaster, the DC may assign personnel to specific duties to accomplish the mitigation of the disaster or incident. If the Disaster Coordinator is out of service for any reason, the Emergency Services Coordinator will assume this role.

(2) The Disaster Coordinator oversees City emergency response activities for the Mayor and:

    (a) activates the City 's response organization and initiates City response activities

    (b) recommends to the Mayor to declare a local state of emergency based on the severity of the situation and the necessity to use additional executive power to respond effectively to the emergency

    (c) notifies and briefs City departments, agencies and other organizations involved in an emergency response

    (d) facilitates coordination between the City and the incident commander


C. The Role of the Emergency Services Coordinator

(1) Definition – The Emergency Services Coordinator (ESC) is the person responsible for coordinating resources at each respective level of government

(2) The Emergency Services Coordinator :

    (a)may assign an On-Scene Coordinator ( OSC) who is responsible for coordinating resources at the scene

    (b)Coordinates resources between City departments, incident command, and other agencies involved in the emergency response.

    (c) maintains and manages an Emergency Operations Center


D. The City Emergency Response Organization

(1) The Incident Command System (ICS)

    (a) City of Buffalo endorses the use of the Incident Command System (ICS). ICS allows flexibility in its implementation so that its structure can be tailored to the specific situation at hand. ICS should be initiated by the emergency forces first responding to an incident.

    (b) ICS is organized by functions. There are five:

      • Command
      • Operations
      • Planning
      • Logistics
      • Finance

    (c)Under ICS, an Incident Commander (IC) has the overall responsibility for the effective on-scene management of the incident, and must ensure that an adequate organization is in place to carry out all emergency functions. The IC directs emergency operations from an Incident Command Post, the only command post at the emergency scene.

    (d) In minor incidents, the five ICS functions may all be managed directly by the IC. Larger incidents usually require that one or more of the functions be set up as separate sections under the IC.

    (e) Within the Command function, the IC has additional responsibilities for Safety, Public Information, and Liaison. These activities can be assigned to staff under the IC.

    (f) An ICS with all five functions organized as sections is depicted as follows: Click Here for display

    (g) During an emergency, City response personnel must be cognizant of the Incident Command System in place and their role in it. Some City personnel may be responders to the scene and part of the on-scene ICS structure in a functional or staff role. Other City personnel may be assigned to the City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or other locations where they will provide support to the responders at the scene. All City response personnel not assigned to the on-scene ICS will be coordinated by or through the Emergency Services Coordinator.

    (h) City response personnel operating at the EOC will be organized by ICS function and interface with their on-scene counterparts, as appropriate.

    (i) The Incident Commander is usually selected due to his or her position as the highest ranking responding officer at the scene. The IC must be fully qualified to manage the incident. As an incident grows in size or becomes more complex, a more highly qualified Incident Commander may be assigned by the responsible department or agency. Thus, a City official could be designated as the IC.

    (j) A major emergency encompassing a large geographic area may have more than one emergency scene. In this situation, separate Incident Commanders may set up command at multiple locations. In this case, an Area Command may be established. The Area Command is structured similar to a normal ICS with one exception, the Incident Commander is called the Incident Manager to whom all Incident Commanders report. A City official could be designated as an Incident Manager and numerous City response personnel assigned to the Area ICS.

    (k) Whenever the ICS is established, City response forces should be assigned to specific ICS functions wherever they are needed including at the scene, at the EOC in a support role, or at an Area Command, if established. See Table 1 for ICS functional assignments by department.

(2) Emergency Response Not Utilizing ICS

(a) Whenever there is an emergency response involving City personnel and, for whatever reason, an ICS has not been established, the Disaster Coordinator, under the authority of the Mayor, will coordinate the City response with the various departments and agencies as needed.

(3) Department Responsibilities

    (a) The Emergency Services Coordinator will maintain a list of City Departments and their roles in each incident.
II. Managing Emergency Response

    A. Incident Command Post and Emergency Operations Center

    (1) On-scene emergency response operations will be directed and controlled by the Incident Commander from an Incident Command Post located at or near the emergency site. This will be the only command post at the emergency scene. All other facilities at the scene used by agencies for decision-making should not be identified as a command post.

    (2) The City EOC will be used to support Incident Command Post activities and to coordinate City resources and assistance. The EOC can also be used as an Area Command Post when Area Command is instituted.

    (3) A Command Post will be selected by the Incident Commander based upon the logistical needs of the situation and located at a safe distance from the emergency site.

    (4) If a suitable building or structure cannot be identified and secured for use as an Incident Command Post, the Mobile Command Post( Field Comm 1) may be used for this purpose.

    (5) The City EOC is located at Buffalo Fire Headquarters, 195 Court St, Buffalo, N.Y. 14202.

    (6) If a disaster situation renders the EOC inoperable, an auxiliary EOC may be established at any of the Buffalo Police District facilities or at another location designated at the time.

    (7) The EOC can provide for the centralized coordination of City and private agencies' activities from a secure and functional location.

    (8) City agencies and other organizations represented at the EOC will be organized according to ICS function under the direction of the Disaster Coordinator.

    (9) Though organized by ICS function, each agencies' senior representative at the EOC will be responsible for directing or coordinating his or her department's personnel and resources. Where the department is also represented at the scene in an ICS structure, the EOC representative will coordinate the application of resources with the department's representative at the scene.

    (10) The Emergency Services Coordinator is responsible for managing the EOC or auxiliary EOC during emergencies.

    (11) If required, the EOC will be staffed to operate continuously on a twenty-four hour a day basis. In the event of a 24-hour operation, two 12 ½ hour shifts will be utilized. (The additional ½ hour is for shift change briefings.) Designation of shifts will be established as conditions warrant by the Emergency Services Coordinator.

    (12) Each department will identify its personnel assigned to the EOC. This identification is to be provided to the Emergency Services Coordinator and updated quarterly.

    (13) Work areas will be assigned to each department represented at the EOC.

    (14) Internal Security at the EOC during an emergency will be provided by the Police Department:

    (a) all persons entering the EOC will be required to check in at the security desk located at the main entrance

    (b) all emergency personnel will be issued a pass (permanent or temporary) to be worn at all times while in the EOC

    (c) temporary passes will be returned to the security desk when departing from the premises

    15) EOC space should be maintained in an emergency operating mode by the Emergency Services Coordinator at all times. During non-emergency periods, the EOC can be used for meetings, training and conferences.

    (16) The ICS Planning function is responsible for emergency situation reporting at the EOC and has established procedures and forms to be used.

    (17) The Emergency Services Coordinator maintains Standard Operating Guides for activating, staffing and managing the EOC. These SOGs can be found as Appendix 1 to this section of the plan

    B. Notification and Activation

    (1) As described in Appendix 1, upon initial notification of an emergency to the Disaster Preparedness Office, the Disaster Coordinator and the Emergency Services Coordinator will immediately alert the appropriate City official(s). This initial notification sets into motion the activation of City emergency response personnel.

    (2) Each emergency may be classified into one of 2 Activation Levels according to the scope and magnitude of the incident. Any situation not meeting these activation level requirements is considered a controlled emergency which requires no assistance beyond initial first responders.

      Activation Level 1: Limited emergency situation with some threat to life, health, or property, but confined to limited area involving a small population.

      Activation Level 2: Full emergency situation with major threat to life, health, or property, involving large population and/or geographic area

    (3) Emergency response personnel will be activated according to the Activation Level classification.

    For Activation Level 1, the staff of the Disaster Preparedness Office may be activated and augmented by select members of the City response organization as determined by the Emergency Services Coordinator at that time.

    For Activation Level 2 classification full EOC staffing is achieved as soon as possible. Except for first responders to the scene, assignment of City response personnel to other locations including the emergency scene will be made through the EOC.

    See Appendix 1 for further details.

    C. Assessment and Evaluation

    (1) As a result of information provided by the Operations and Planning sections, the Command Section will, as appropriate, in coordination with the Incident Commander:

    (a) develop policies by evaluating the safety, health, economic, environmental, social, humanitarian, legal and political implications of a disaster or threat;

    (b) analyze the best available data and information on the emergency;

    (c) explore alternative actions and consequences;

    (d) select and direct specific response actions.

    D. Declaration of Local State of Emergency and Promulgation of Local Emergency Orders

    (1) In response to an emergency, or its likelihood, upon a finding that public safety is imperiled, the Mayor may proclaim a state of emergency pursuant to section 24 of the State Executive Law.

    (2) Such a proclamation authorizes the Mayor to deal with the emergency situation with the full executive and legislative powers of City government.

    (3) This power is realized only through the promulgation of local emergency orders.

    For example, emergency orders can be issued for actions such as:

      • establishing curfews
      • restrictions on travel
      • evacuation of facilities and areas
      • closing of places of amusement or assembly

        (4) Appendix 2 describes the requirements for proclaiming a State of Emergency and promulgating Emergency Orders.

        (5) Emergency responders have implicit authority and powers to take reasonable immediate action to protect lives and property absent an emergency declaration or emergency orders.

        E. Public Warning and Emergency Information

        (1) In order to implement public protective actions there should be a timely, reliable and effective method to warn and inform the public.

        (2) Activation and implementation of public warning is an Operations section responsibility.

        (3) Information and warnings to the public that a threatening condition is imminent or exists can be accomplished through the use of the following resources. Though public warning may, in many cases, be implemented solely by on-scene personnel, the use of the systems in (a), (b), and (c) below require strict coordination with the EOC:

          (a) NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) - is the "Voice of the National Weather Service" providing continuous 24-hour radio broadcasts of the latest weather information including severe weather warnings directly from the Weather Service office. NWR will also broadcast non-weather-related emergency warnings. NWR broadcasts on select high-band FM frequencies, not available on normal AM-FM radios. Radios with NWR frequencies and automated alarm capabilities are generally available. NWR broadcast signal can be received Citywide.

          (b) Community Alert Network (C.A.N.)

          (c) Emergency service vehicles with siren and public address capabilities - Many police and fire vehicles in the City are equipped with siren and public address capabilities. These vehicles may be available, in part, during an emergency for "route alerting" of the public. This capability exists City - wide but should not be relied upon for public warning.

          d) Door-to-door public warning can be accomplished in some situations by the individual alerting of each residence/business in a particular area. This can be undertaken by any designated group such as, police, firefighters, visiting each dwelling in the affected area and relating the emergency information to the building occupants. To achieve maximum effectiveness, the individual delivering the warning message should be in official uniform.

        (4) The Mayor or his designee will be responsible for Public Information.

        (5) The Public Information Officer, if established, or its function, a part of the Command section, may, in coordination with on-scene Incident Command:

          a). establish and manage a Joint Information Center (JIC) from where to respond to inquiries from the news media and coordinate all official announcements and media briefings

          b). authenticate all sources of information being received and verify accuracy

          c). provide essential information and instructions including the appropriate protective actions to be taken by the public, to the broadcast media and press

          d). coordinate the release of all information with the key departments and agencies involved both at the EOC and on-scene

          e). check and control the spreading of rumors

          f). arrange and approve interviews with the news media and press by emergency personnel involved in the response operation

          g). arrange any media tours of emergency sites

        (6) The JIC may be established at the EOC or at any location where information flow can be maintained, without interfering with emergency operations

        F. Emergency Medical and Public Health

        (1) A high impact disaster can cause injury and death to large numbers of people. In addition, damage to and destruction of homes, special facilities, and vital utilities may place the public at substantial risk of food and water contamination, communicable diseases, and exposure to extreme temperatures.

        (2) There may be established within the Operations section an Emergency Medical/Public Health Group to ensure that health and medical problems are being addressed. This Group will be led by the City Fire Department's Emergency Medical Services Officer.

        1. Meeting Human Needs

        (1) The Planning and Operations functions are responsible for ascertaining what human needs have been particularly affected by an emergency and responding to those unmet needs with the available resources of City and local government and with the assistance of volunteer agencies and the private sector.

        (2) There may be established within the Operations section a Human Needs Group to perform the tasks associated with (1) above. This group is comprised of representatives from City and local agencies, volunteer groups and the private sector, whose purpose is to assist in the coordination of the delivery of human services in Buffalo and to advise the Mayor on human needs issues.

        (3) Whenever a Human Needs Branch is not established by the Operations section, the Operations section will confer with the Commissioner of Human Services, Parks and Recreation

        H. Restoring Public Services

        (1) The Operations section is responsible for ascertaining the emergency's effect on the infrastructure and the resultant impact on public services including transportation, electric power, fuel distribution, public water, telephone, and sewage treatment and ensuring that restoration of services is accomplished without undue delay.

        (2) There may be established within the Operations section a Public Infrastructure Branch, headed by the Comm. of the Department of Public Works to perform the tasks associated with (1) above.

        (3) The Operations section will assign a representative as liaison to National Fuel Gas and Niagara Mohawk for the purpose of facilitating communications and information flow between the utility and the Operations section.

        (4)The Operations section may assign a representative as liaison to other utility companies as appropriate.

        (5)During response operations relating to debris clearance and disposal , the City of Buffalo should act in cognizance of and in cooperation with the State Debris Clearance Policy.

        See Appendix 3, New York State Debris Clearance Policy.

        I. Resource Management- Emergency Services Coordinator

        (1) The Emergency Services Coordinator is responsible for the identification and allocation of additional resources needed to respond to the emergency situation.

        (2) Resources owned by the City of Buffalo should be used first in responding to the emergency.

        (3) All City -owned resources are under the control of the Mayor during an emergency and can be utilized as necessary.

        (4) Resources owned by other municipalities outside of City of Buffalo can be utilized upon agreement between the requesting and offering government.

        (5) Resources owned privately cannot be commandeered or confiscated by government during an emergency. However, purchases and leases of privately owned resources can be expedited during an emergency. In addition, it is not uncommon for the private sector to donate certain resources in an emergency.

        (6) Resource identification and allocation will be conducted according to the City of Buffalo Emergency Resource Management Guide, Appendix 4.

        J. Standard Operating Guides and other supporting plans.

        (1) Each City department assigned responsibility under this Response portion of the plan is required to have its own Standard Operating Guides(SOGs). These SOGs address activation of personnel, shift assignments at the EOC, assignment to the field including the Incident Command Post (if applicable), coordination with other agencies, drills, exercises, and ICS training.

        (2) Each department SOG is to updated at least annually and reviewed at a joint department planning

        meeting held each fall.

        (3) Copies of each SOG are retained by the City Disaster Preparedness Office.

        SOG's must be updated yearly or as changes occur

        (4) The following documents support this portion of the plan and are appended to it:

        Appendix 1- Standard Operating Guides for the City of Buffalo Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

        Appendix 2 - Instructions for Declaring a State of Emergency and Issuing Emergency Orders

        Appendix 3 - New York State Debris Clearance Policy

        (5) The following documents support this portion of the plan and are kept on file in the City Disaster Preparedness Office and the City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and other locations as indicated.

        Appendix 4 - City of Buffalo Emergency Resource Management Guide