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Murray Journal

Murray Receives Federal Emergency Grant

Oct 04, 2016 02:09PM ● By Tyler Warren

Murray’s Emergency Operations Center is located in Fire Station No. 83

By Tyler Warren  | [email protected]

When disaster strikes, we rarely see it coming. Events such as 9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the recent floods in Louisiana have demonstrated why preparation is critical in the chaotic aftermath of a disaster.

Federal programs help coordinate the responses of multiple levels of government in these situations. 

The Emergency Management Performance Grant is one of the federal programs designed to standardize disaster response across multiple levels of government. The EMPG is a 50/50 matching grant offered by FEMA to counties, cities, public higher education institutions and tribes across the U.S. In Utah, there are 67 participants in the program, including the city of Murray.

This year, Murray received $11,000 from the EMPG, a jump from the $8,500 the City received in 2015. The additional funding coincides with efforts to improve disaster response. In recent years, Murray has conducted damage and risk analysis, as well as expanding pre and post-disaster plans. The City has also worked to improve the Emergency Operation Center through the purchase of radio equipment.

To qualify for the EMPG, the City had to meet federal standards for training, exercises, planning, development and coordination of an emergency management plan. They also had to employ an emergency manager.

Emergency managers are a relatively unknown part of the City’s staff. But if a disaster occurs, they are essential.

“An emergency manager’s duties are extremely broad. Their primary goal is to expand on their jurisdiction’s core capabilities to prepare for and respond to emergencies,” said Tanner Patterson, EMPG program manager for Utah. 

In Murray, the fire department has incorporated the role of emergency management for over 20 years, and has received funding from the EMPG for at least 10.

Jon Harris is the Assistant Fire Chief of Murray, and pulls double duty as the city’s Emergency Manager. He uses emergency operation plans, training and exercises to prepare for large scale emergencies. All of this is coordinated through the Emergency Operations Center located inside Fire Station No. 83 on 5900 South.

“We want to create a city that is more resilient from disasters. The amount and nature of all the different types of emergencies that can occur can be overwhelming. While winter storms, flooding, multi-causality situations, and earthquakes are our largest hazards, we also prepare for many others including pandemics, tornados, insect infestation, and acts of terrorism.  Recently, we have been actively training on active-shooter responses,” Harris said.

If a large scale emergency were to occur around Murray, the Emergency Operation Center would have to work quickly to coordinate with neighboring cities. Faced with a situation where resources were stretched thin, Salt Lake County Emergency Management would step in to distribute resources. This is why training is so important.

Emergency management training takes place on local, county, state, and federal levels. Murray and Salt Lake County hold annual drills. Emergency Managers and their staff also travel to conferences and workshops around the nation, where they train on simulated disasters.

An emergency manager uses these resources to mitigate the confusion that arises from a disaster. But their role doesn’t end when that disaster is over.  

“Emergency management covers a great deal more than just response. It provides the framework in which we prepare and recover from emergencies. For example, we have plans for how to get Murray businesses back in operation after a disaster,” Harris said.

Anyone looking for more information on emergencies can visit the Salt Lake County Emergency Management website at