Governor Cuomo is pushing legislation that he says will help improve New York State’s ability to coordinate preparation and response for disaster emergencies. The legislation has three parts… One.. to make technical updates to current emergency laws, Secondly it will allow the State to accept certain gifts and donations to assist with emergencies, and thirdly it will help implement the NY-Text emergency alert system which will provide immunity from liability to mobile service provider intermediaries that are acting on behalf of the State in sending emergency alert messages.
The Governor while introducing this legislation says “After experiencing three ‘once in a hundred year storms’ in the last two years, it is clear that New York must be prepared for the new weather reality we face,” and he says “Improving our ability to prepare for and respond to any future disaster remains a high priority and this legislation is an important step in our efforts to better protect the public.”
Updating Fire and Other Emergency Laws
The legislation will make technical changes to current law to reflect the consolidation of the Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) into the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). It would authorize the State Fire Administrator to set regulations and rules necessary to implement the state fire mobilization and mutual aid plan. It would also update the law that currently requires a sheriff to notify the Governor by telegram when he or she declares a state of special emergency, to permit such notifications to be made by fax or other electronic methods.
Allowing Acceptance of Gifts for Emergencies
The Governor’s legislation would also allow the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to accept any assistance including gifts of goods or services – but not money – from a public or private source for the purposes of preparing for, responding to, or recovering from a state disaster emergency. To ensure transparency, OEM would maintain a public database of gifts that are accepted, which would include the names of donors and recipients, the type of assistance given, and the value of the assistance.
Implementing the NY-Text Emergency Alert System
Finally, this bill will help implement the NY-Text system by providing immunity from liability to mobile service provider intermediaries that are acting on behalf of the State in sending emergency alert messages. The NY-Text system allows for mass text messages to be sent to all wireless telephones in a chosen area before, during or after an emergency. The legislation will give mobile service provider intermediaries immunity for any consequences resulting from the transmission of or failure to transmit an emergency alert when the provider acted reasonably and in good faith. This removes a barrier to contracting with potential providers as the State puts this alert system in place.