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Published June 9th, 2021
MOFD board gives green light to use grant for comprehensive evacuation support system
Map shows evacuation zones in participating counties Image provided

In a continuing effort to facilitate communication among emergency services agencies, the Moraga-Orinda Fire District board May 21 approved a motion to use $300,000 in grant money to enter into a software agreement with Zonehaven, Inc. to develop a comprehensive evacuation support system in the amount of $627,750.
According to MOFD Chief Dave Winnacker, the purpose of the grant is to contract the development of a comprehensive evacuation support system consisting of fire modeling, evacuation polygons and an evacuation decision support tool. Winnacker noted that other counties including Marin and Alameda counties are also working with Zonehaven. The board authorized acceptance of the grant at its Jan. 20 meeting.
The grant money would be the first installment of the first year license cost for a three-year contract and, according to Winnacker, the agreement may be terminated with at least 30-day notice at the conclusion of the first year or any subsequent year without penalty.
Director Steven Danziger asked what would be the effect if MOFD did not get any more grant money and canceled.
Winnacker explained the first phase of the contract involves zones. "We have the map layer and a shared understanding of what any specific piece of dirt or homes or population center in the county is called so we're using the same terms, so we establish that interoperability, not only between fire and law agencies, but between fire, law and dispatch sometimes operating in the same jurisdictions butting up against each other." The second and enduring part is access to the system, Winnacker explained, which includes a number of training scenarios and simulations about fire spread as well as the ability to send notifications through the system when there is an actual incident.
If the contract is canceled after one year, Winnacker explained that MOFD keeps the map layer and physical evacuation books that are derived from the system, "but we lose access to the training and alerting that currently resides in the platform."
With County Office of Emergency Services support, Winnacker said staff is seeking additional grant funding for year two and three of the contract. In the absence of additional funding, he noted, staff will recommend terminating the contract as part of the FY2022 budget process under Section 14.1 before any MOFD funds beyond the current $300,000 grant are expended.
The motion passed unanimously. Director Gregory Baitx was absent.

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