Recent lightning-sparked wildfires across Gila County postponed the quarterly meeting of Gila County’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), which will be online this month and has been rescheduled to Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Adhering to federal, state and county guidelines to mitigate COVID-19, this meeting will be online and via teleconference. For an agenda or to be emailed the website and login before the meeting, call Jason Gillette at 480-721-3855 or email him at jason.gillette@guildhealthconsulting.com.

Items on the agenda include:

• HAZMAT Reports since January 2020

• ERF Funding

• Justin Quarles, Gila County’s Emergency Management specialist

• LEPC meetings — moving forward

Fire chiefs from across Gila County, police and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office staff, media and volunteers meet online. Those who have not attended an Emergency Planning Meeting, this is an invitation to join. The quarterly meetings used to be in-person, but are now online due to Arizona’s ongoing state of emergency brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connect with organizers through Gila County Health and Emergency Management’s page on Facebook — like and follow for public health alerts and emergency planning tips and information, too at facebook.com/gilacohealthem/.

The LEPC meets quarterly, providing a forum for emergency management, local responders, industry and the public to work together to evaluate, understand, train, coordinate and communicate chemical hazards in the community and develop HAZMAT emergency plans, which provide information about chemicals in the community to citizens, government agencies and emergency responders.

The LEPC’s initial task was to develop emergency plans to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies. The EPA’s list of extremely hazardous substances provided a focus for setting priorities in the planning effort. These plans must be reviewed annually and updated. Because the LEPC’s members represent the community, they should be familiar with factors that affect public safety, the environment, and the economy of the community. This expertise will be essential as the LEPC develops plans tailored to the needs of its planning district.

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