County’s Community Warning System functioned properly during Richmond fire Tuesday night

A fire burns at Sims Metal Management in Richmond, CA Tuesday night, Jan. 30, 2017. Screenshot of video by ABC7 News.

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

The mission of the Community Warning System (CWS) is to ensure the public gets emergency alerts as quickly and completely as possible once we receive the proper information from the requesting agency. CWS is not an internal notification system for a city or affected jurisdictions.

In regards to yesterday’s fire at Sims Metal Management shop located at 604 S. 4th Street in Richmond, CWS received all of the necessary information from Richmond Fire for an alert at 5:55 PM. There was no request to activate the sirens. The first alert was sent at 6:08 PM through the Telephone Emergency Notification Sys-tem (TENS), which includes phone, text, and email alerts. It is also posted on social media and websites.

As the fire continued to burn and produce smoke, and due to a shift in winds, the shelter-in-place needed to be expanded. CWS worked to get updates to additional shelter-in-place areas as they were requested by Richmond Fire and Contra Costa Hazardous Materials Program.

The second alert went out at 6:44 PM, the third alert went out at 7:57 PM, and the last one went out at 8:50 PM. These alerts went to expanded areas at the request of Richmond Fire and the Contra Costa Hazardous Materials Program.

After the situation became somewhat stabilized and it was believed no additional shelter-in-place areas would be needed, a comprehensive map was created that included all affected are-as and was posted in on our website and Facebook page and sent directly to the media.

“In yesterday’s incident, the CWS worked as designed — alerts were sent once all the information was received from the requesting agency,” said Assistant Sheriff Mark Williams. “Mayor Butt’s statement that it took an hour to get out the first alert after receiving the necessary information from Richmond Fire is totally inaccurate, misleading, and presumptuous.”

CWS continually reviews it system and procedures in an effort to improve delivery of alerts. CWS encourages all county residents to receive alerts by registering at http://www.cococws.us and to follow CWS on Twitter and Facebook at CoCoCWS.

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