BRAC-133 Emergency Response Planning

Alexandria's public safety staff are coordinating with the Department of Defense to ensure that detailed emergency plans are in place, emergency response exercises are planned, and local, state, and federal partners are prepared to effectively respond to an emergency of any size at BRAC-133.

Page updated on Nov 2, 2015 at 12:41 PM

BRAC-133 Emergency Response Planning

Mayor William D. Euille Expresses Security Concerns to President Obama

On September 8, 2011, Mayor William D. Euille sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing his concern about security around BRAC-133. A Time magazine article on September 6, 2011, stated that antiterrorism experts "are increasingly anxious that something similar" to the Oklahoma City bombing could take place at the BRAC-133 Mark Center. He requested that the City of Alexandria be treated as a full partner with the Department of Defense in addressing the fire, emergency medical, and related public safety needs at BRAC-133.

Emergency Incident Management Planning for the Department of Defense, Washington Headquarters Service (WHS)

  • The City recognizes that it is extremely important to provide for the safety of both the employees who will be working at the WHS facility and those that live and work in the surrounding neighborhoods. 
  • Emergency management plans are in place for large scale incidents affecting the surrounding public. 
  • These plans are not specific to the WHS facility, or to any other facility, but are adaptable to address any such incident at any facility anywhere in the City. 
  • To make specific decisions and manage both small and large emergencies based on the exact circumstances of the situation, a large number of City staff, both public safety and non-public safety personnel, are trained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS), as are other local, state and federal emergency responders.  NIMS includes the Incident Command System (ICS), which is the structure used nationally to manage all emergency incidents. 
  • There is no specific emergency management plan for a major incident at WHS. Should a major incident affecting the surrounding community occur, we would handle it using the City's existing plans and established procedures. 
  • For incidents that occur in the WHS facility and/or on Federal property, the City's public safety departments will use ICS, established guidelines, standard operating procedures and doctrine that reflects the jurisdictional authority of the Federal government over the property and its unique security/site characteristics.
  • City public safety officials have more work to do. City staff are coordinating with Pentagon Force Protection Agency officials about how to handle specific emergency incidents that occur on Federal property, or in the WHS facility itself. 
  • The City is planning to hold an emergency preparedness and response workshop for the public in mid-September. This workshop would be designed to provide an opportunity for the public to hear directly from the City Public Safety Agencies about their response to several scenarios that may affect the WHS facility and the surrounding community and ask questions.
  • The City is also planning several internal and regional planning and simulation exercises this year. 
  • For security reasons, neither the City’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, nor specific standard operating procedures for handling emergency incidents in general or emergency incidents at WHS will be made available to the public. 
  • The City's first responders will always do their absolute best, given the available resources and assisted by mutual aid partners from federal, state and local agencies, to protect the employees of the WHS and the surrounding community.
  • Just as the City has emergency plans (that are continuously being reviewed and updated), you and your family should also be prepared for any emergency. For more information, go to Ready Virginia.
  • Read More Details 

Frequently Asked Questions about BRAC-133 Mark Center Facility Emergency Response

On Thursday, October 20, the City of Alexandria held an emergency management information session to inform the community about current response capabilities related to several external scenarios in proximity to the BRAC-133 Mark Center facility. The City is providing answers to the community’s most frequently asked questions about emergency response.

If an emergency occurs, who will be in charge and how would an emergency be managed?
For law enforcement incidents that occur inside the BRAC Property the Pentagon Force Protection Agency will be in charge and command the incident. For Fire/Emergency Medical Service (EMS) incidents occurring inside the fence, the Fire/EMS first arriving unit will establish command, which includes assessing the scene, requesting necessary resources and directing those resources appropriately. The first arriving command-level officer would establish an Incident Command organization, which is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach to emergency management. This organization would include the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, if they had not established an Incident Command organization prior to the arrival of Fire/EMS units.

For Fire/EMS incidents outside the fence, the first arriving unit will establish command, which includes assessing the scene, requesting necessary resources and directing those resources appropriately. The first arriving command-level officer would establish an Incident Command organization that would include some (or all) of the following groups, depending upon the circumstances:

  • Law Enforcement (Alexandria Police Department, Virginia State Police)
  • Virginia Department of Emergency Management
  • Virginia Department Of Transportation
  • City of Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Services
  • Pentagon Force Protection Agency

What are the priorities of the first responders when they arrive on the scene?

  • Life safety is always the first priority–for citizens and responders in immediate area.
    This priority includes establishing areas where it is unsafe for citizens to be located, notifying anyone in the hazard area, and potentially evacuating all or part of the area.
  • Property protection, which includes many actions such as extinguishing a fire.
  • Environmental protection
  • Stabilization of the incident, which would include actions such as creating a traffic control plan for the incident, security of the scene, and other related priorities.

How would the traffic be managed during an emergency?
Early in any emergency, traffic is severely affected and difficult to manage.  The first priority is to establish a traffic plan that will allow first responders to get to the scene and perform their tasks.  Additionally, in the early stages of the incident, it is important to divert traffic away from the scene to ensure the protection of the public and to maintain the integrity of a potential crime scene. Timely notification to the public and regional commuters is essential in this process. After traffic congestion has been stabilized, a traffic plan can then be developed, by transportation managers at the Federal, State and municipal level, in cooperation with public safety agencies. Staff would allow traffic to flow in a manner that secures the incident scene and protects the driving public.

If an incident occurs that requires an evacuation for all or part of the area surrounding the BRAC-133 Mark Center facility, how would it be accomplished? 
Evacuations are very rare, and the recommended action for almost every possible emergency is for individuals to stay in place and wait to receive official information from the City.
If an evacuation is called for by an incident commander, it would require an immediate emergency evacuation from a specific area. These evacuations call for people to walk away from the hazard area, and ensure that they are located outside of a space that would place them in immediate danger.  Officials will notify people in the area to provide instructions on which direction to move and how far they need to go to be safe from harm.  People who are physically unable to leave the area will be assisted.

Evacuations by vehicle during events that occur without notice will be very difficult, due to the limited roadways and volume of traffic that may be in the area.  If at all practical, walking evacuation would be the preferred method.  If for some reason evacuation by vehicle is necessary, it will require a considerable amount of staff time and resources to direct and assist the evacuation effort, and will be chaotic until enough resources are in place to manage the traffic.  Local modes of transportation, such as DASH and school buses, could be used to provide assistance, if they are available and able to get to the area.

How would the City communicate with neighbors, commuters, the general public and the media during an emergency event?
The City uses several methods to communicate during an emergency. Past experience indicates that there is not one single method that is successful in reaching everyone. Therefore, the City uses multiple tools to keep the public informed, which include:

  • The City’s website
  • Twitter
  • Facebook 
  • The City of Alexandria eNews service
    eNews is an email and text message system that can distribute messages very quickly to our 22,000+ subscribers to their email accounts, cell phones, smartphones, or any other text message capable device.
  • Public address systems on City owned vehicles
  • Door-to-door flyers or personal contact
  • Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS)
    This system dials the phone numbers of established groups or defined geographic areas of the City with a recorded message. This is commonly referred to as “reverse 911.”
  • Press releases
  • Press conferences with City officials

What can citizens, residents, businesses, visitors and others do to protect themselves before and during an emergency?  

  • If you’re in a safe place, stay there
  • Shelter in place unless directly in danger
  • Tune in to television, radio, or electronic media to obtain and follow instructions from City officials
  • Listen to officials at the scene and follow their instructions
  • Tune in to receive important emergency information
  • Have an emergency supply kit at home, at work, and with you when you travel
  • Make a personal/family emergency plan in advance