Sitting several feet apart, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted today (Tuesday) to declare a local state of emergency due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The declaration activates the county’s emergency plan and allows the county to expeditiously mobilize its resources. A number of local jurisdictions have adopted similar declarations, including Arlington County.
At the emergency meeting, board members sat roughly six feet apart in order to practice safe social distancing, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chairman Jeff McKay noted that the spread of coronavirus poses a “public health threat,” but that the county is well-positioned to manage concerns.
“This is not something this is going to be resolved tomorrow,” McKay said, giving a nod to county staff that is working their “tails off” in this “unprecedented” public health crisis.
The declaration allows the county to pursue “coordinated local government to prevent or alleviate damage, loss hardship, or suffering” caused by the respiratory disease, according to the declaration.
Like similar declarations for snow emergency response, the motion also allows the county to apply for federal and state disaster planning funds and increased flexibility in operations.
The county executive will now have the authority to act on behalf of the board, but won’t be able to do anything inconsistent with state orders, McKay said.
“We don’t have as much authority as people think we do,” Vice Chair Penny Gross said, noting that D.C.’s mayor imposed new restrictions on businesses in the city.
“We’re also at the mercy of the governor,” Gross said.
Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency last Thursday. So far, the Fairfax Health District has 10 presumptive cases of coronavirus.
“We will make it through this,” McKay said. “We will have battle scars without a doubt.”
This story also appeared on our sister site Reston Now
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider plans to declare a state of local emergency tomorrow (Tuesday) due to the spread of the coronavirus.
In a statement, Jeff McKay, the board’s chairman, said the board is expected to hold an emergency session tomorrow at 10 a.m as part of its next phase of emergency response.
Declaring a local emergency would activate the county’s Emergency Operations Plan and allow the county to quickly mobilize county resources. The board must vote to pass the declaration.
So far, all county agencies have been directed to shift to core functions. Residents are strongly encouraged to conduct any needed business online. All county parks, libraries and school buildings are closed for two weeks beginning today.
The meeting will be broadcast on Fairfax County Government Channel 16 and streamed online.
As of Sunday, March 15, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 10 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Fairfax County.
This story was also published on our sister site Reston Now.
Following a similar announcement in Arlington, the City of Falls Church declared a state of emergency after Monday’s flooding.
This means that through the City Emergency Operations Plan, affected residents could qualify for aid and assistance as directed by state law and city code.
Specified assistance includes fee waivers for bulk-waste pickup on Wednesday, July 17, and rebuilding permits for damaged property, according to the City of Falls Church press release.
The emergency declaration will remain in effect until otherwise noted. More information can be found online.
The full press release is below.
Acting City Manager Cindy Mester declared a local emergency for the City of Falls Church, effective 8:30 a.m. on July 8, 2019, in response to the flash flood emergency. This declaration activates the City Emergency Operations Plan and authorizes the provision of aid and assistance as prescribed by State law and City Code and the ordinances, resolutions and approved plans of the City of Falls Church, in order to mitigate the effects of the weather event. The emergency state remains in effect until rescinded.
To help in the aftermath of the flooding, the City is waiving fees for solid waste bulk collection for the Wednesday, July 17 pick-up and for permits.
Residents must call 703-248-5160 (TTY 711), Option 1 to request special collection by noon on Tuesday, July 16. Bulk items left curbside will not be picked up unless a resident calls to schedule a special collection. This offer is only for current residential curbside customers. Contractor-related work is not eligible for curbside special collection pickup. Brush collection fees are not waived. Visit www.fallschurchva.gov/Special for complete details. Items that are eligible for special bulk collection with waived fees include:
- Household Appliances
- Other items too large or heavy to fit into a trash container.
Permits for flood-related rebuilding are still required, but the fee is waived. This includes electrical repair, gas appliance replacement, and more. More information can be found through the City’s Building Safety Division and Permits Counter: 703-248-5080 (TTY 711); www.fallschurchva.gov/Permit.Residents and businesses can take the following steps to help in the aftermath of the flooding:
- Call your insurance company, if you have not already done so, to report damage.
- If any gas appliances were exposed to floodwaters, do not attempt to either relight or disconnect them by yourself. Contact Washington Gas: 1-844-WASH-GAS (1-844-927-4427), Option 1
- The Virginia State Bureau of Insurance has staff specifically trained to handle disaster insurance questions and problems. Their website also has free consumer guides on what to do after an insured commercial or home property loss. Virginia State Bureau of Insurance: 1-877-310-6560.
— Joey Wilhelm (@mrbeersnob) July 8, 2019
Update 1 p.m. — The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for the region until midnight with Flash Flood Watch remaining in effect.
Hope you brought a rain jacket, Tysons, because the region is expected to get soaked this afternoon (Friday) through tomorrow morning.
A Flash Flood Watch has been issued for the region, including Fairfax County, with 1.5-2 inches of rain expected but even more possible. More from the National Weather Service:
…FLASH FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON EDT TODAY THROUGH LATE TONIGHT… SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WITH HEAVY RAIN ARE EXPECTED TO OVERSPREAD THE REGION BY THIS AFTERNOON AND CONTINUE THROUGH THIS EVENING BEFORE DEPARTING LATE TONIGHT. REPETITIVE STORMS AND MULTIPLE ROUNDS OF HEAVY RAIN MAY RESULT IN RAINFALL AMOUNTS WHICH COULD EXCEED 3 INCHES LOCALLY. FLASH FLOODING IS POSSIBLE, PARTICULARLY IN URBAN AREAS AND IN AREAS OF STEEP TERRAIN. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A FLASH FLOOD WATCH MEANS THAT CONDITIONS MAY DEVELOP THAT LEAD TO FLASH FLOODING. FLASH FLOODING IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION. YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS BE ISSUED. &&
The flooding potential is of particular concern to parts of the Tysons, McLean and Vienna area that are flood prone.
The potential for severe weather has also prompted some airlines to waive change fees for travel Friday. Forecasters say damaging storms are possible later today.
Severe thunderstorms with considerable potential for producing DAMAGING WIND gusts and a few tornadoes are LIKELY across much of the southern through mid Atlantic Coast region, particularly across the Carolinas into southern/central Virginia, THIS AFTERNOON and EVENING. @NWSSPC pic.twitter.com/3GItR4Z0Rg
— National Weather Service (@NWS) April 19, 2019
With storms in the forecast, several airlines, including @united & @Delta, are offering change fee waivers for travel today. Contact the airline directly if travel plans are impacted by weather & be sure to double check the status of your flight before coming to the airport. pic.twitter.com/HaFHwIWP50
— Reagan Airport (@Reagan_Airport) April 19, 2019
The Citizens Fire & Rescue Academy (CFRA) is now accepting applications for Fairfax residents who want to learn more about what it’s like to be a local firefighter. The CFRA is open to persons 18 and older who live in Fairfax County
According to the Fire and Rescue website:
Each session will cover different aspects of the organization, providing an in-depth overview of the department and its uniformed and civilian workforce. Program topics include: fire suppression, emergency medical services, training, recruitment, special operations, and other interesting topics.
Applications will be accepted until March 8, with classes beginning on March 21 and ending May 9. The class is scheduled to meet for eight consecutive Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Each class is scheduled to be approximately three hours long.
There is no charge to attend. The department also emphasizes that the class will not teach you how to become a firefighter.
Photo via Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department
Fairfax County is putting together a comprehensive plan for public safety in the county’s use of unmanned aircraft and is looking for public feedback.
The Fairfax County Unmanned Aircraft Systems program is a proposal to incorporate drones into government operations, with a particular focus on public safety. The draft says examples of drone usage includes:
- Search and rescue
- Flooding assessments
- Pre- and post-disaster damage assessments
- Crash reconstruction
- Fire incident/scene management and investigations
- Hazardous materials responses
- Wildlife estimation
The draft also says the drones would not be used to conduct random surveillance activities or to harass individuals.
Six public meetings are scheduled to discuss the issue with representatives of the Office of Emergency Management, county attorney’s office, police and fire and rescue department. Presentations at each of the meetings are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
- Jan. 14, 2019 (6:30-8:30 p.m.)
Mason District Governmental Center (Community Room)
6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale
- Jan. 16, 2019 (6:30-8:30 p.m.)
South County Governmental Center (Room 221C)
8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria
- Jan. 23, 2019 (6:30-8:30 p.m.)
McLean District Governmental Center
1437 Balls Hill Road, McLean
- Jan. 24, 2019 (6:30-8:30 p.m.)
Sully District Governmental Center
4900 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly
- Jan. 28, 2019 (6:30-8:30 p.m.)
Reston Community Center – Hunter Woods
2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston
- Jan. 30, 2019 (6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.)
Braddock Hall – Kings Park Library
9002 Burke Lake Road, Burke
Public comments can also be submitted to [email protected] before close-of-business on Feb. 8 to be included in the written record.
Photo via Flickr/Joe Loong
Hopefully, the firefighters of Station 29 will never have to use their familiarity with new high-rise buildings across Tysons. But just in case, the crew has been spending the last few weeks exploring the unfinished interiors of Tysons’ tallest structures.
Captain David Bentley from Station 29 said it’s useful for firefighters to take a look inside the buildings before the drywall and the finishing touches are added to see how the buildings are structured and to understand the layout.
“If there’s an emergency, when it’s finished or during construction, this way it will be easier for us to get to patients,” said Bentley. “We need to know how the floors are made, what the ceiling looks like, and what’s between the drywall.”
At The Boro, for example, Bentley said they’re using aluminum studs in the walls while many smaller construction projects use wood. While wood burns when exposed to direct flame, or can smolder and fail over time, Bentley said aluminum studs fail quicker because they start to warp when exposed to intense heat. Bentley said information like that helps firefighters understand how much time they have to continue working to extinguish a fire safely or rescue people from the building.
One of the most interesting buildings Bentley said they visited was the new 31-story Capital One tower, the tallest building in the greater Washington area.
“It’s an absolutely amazing building,” said Bentley. “The sheer number of people working there, elevators, and security, it’s all absolutely amazing… Some of these bigger [buildings have fire pumps that run up to the top floor, and the size and amount of these pumps are quite large and they have to have a backup in case they fail. They have five massive diesel generators the size of cruise ship engines to keep the place running.”
One of the unique features of the new Capital One building is a fire suppression device that rolls over the escalators like a conveyer belt and seals them off, which both stops the fire from spreading to higher floors but also cuts off a route of ingress or egress for those needing to get to or away from the fire.
“I’ve never seen that before,” said Bentley. “It would definitely cut off a route, whether we need to go up or down, but it’s meant to stop vertical fire spreads. There are plenty of other exits in that building and I’m sure security has pre-plans, but that’s definitely a unique challenge.”
Bentley said the sheer verticality of these buildings presents a challenge as well. While Bentley says firefighters can respond to most emergencies in downtown Tysons in five minutes, getting the right equipment to the right floor can take twice as long. Once inside, maneuvering around the building in an emergency situation can be difficult as well, as evidenced by the dramatic rescue via construction crane last month.
“We practice a lot,” said Bentley. “We have drills once a week on high-rise operations. We assign people on different apparatus to different tasks. Paramedics will grab one length of hose to take to the fire floor. The firefighter on the right side of the engine will grab another section of hose. I’ll grab the officer’s bag, which has tools to hook into pipes. This way we can take any hose down any hallway to get to the fire.”
Bentley says the crew of Station 29 visited the Boro (8301 Greensboro Drive) and the Capital One building (1600 Capital One Blvd) and older buildings like Kaiser Permanente’s Tysons Corner Medical Facility (8008 Westpark Drive) and Rotunda Apartments (8352 Greensboro Drive).
Bentley said the firefighters also travelled to low rise buildings, like Cava and Honeygrow in Pike 7 Plaza, to familiarize crews with the new small developments he says are popping up all over.
Photos via Twitter
Today: Coffee With a Cop — “Fairfax County Police and other law enforcement agencies will participate in National Coffee With a Cop Day on Wednesday, Oct. 3… Officers from the McLean District Station will be participating in National Coffee with a Cop Day at Peet’s, 7516A Leesburg Pike, Falls Church (Tysons Station) from 9 a.m.-11 a.m.” [Patch]
Watch Out for Deer — “Fall is here and white-tailed deer are on the move. Fall is the breeding season for deer and you can expect to see more of them on the roads as they search for mates. Deer are unpredictable and crashes with them are a safety concern.” [FCPD]
Mars Sells Drinks Biz — McLean-based Mars Inc., the maker of M&Ms, has sold its drinks business, which includes Flavia coffee, to the Italian coffee company Lavazza. [WBJ]
Tysons Firms on Coolest Cos. List — Per the FCEDA E-bird: “DC Inno compiled a list of D.C.’s ‘Coolest Companies,’ based on company culture and factors ranging from pet-friendliness to in-house happy hour availability. Level Access of Tysons Corner was rated among the five ‘All Around Coolest’ companies… Gabriel Marketing of Tysons Corner emerged tops in the ‘Best D.C. Tech Advocate’ category.” [DC Inno]
Fairfax County residents, along with the rest of the country, will be getting an emergency alert on their phone a week for today, but it’s just a test.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) at 2:18 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The so-called “presidential alert” test, of a system intended for use during national emergencies, was postponed to next week due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.
On social media today, Fairfax County posted a reminded about the wireless alert test and that it shouldn’t be confused with the county’s Fairfax Alerts. Like WEA, Fairfax sends out public safety alerts about severe weather, though the county’s alerts also include traffic alerts and county government closures.
📱Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) test by @fema next Wednesday, Oct. 3, around 2:18 p.m. Your phone will make a loud sound and vibrate. But what's the difference between a WEA Alert and a Fairfax Alert? Check it out 👇👇 cc: @FairfaxCountyPD @ffxfirerescue @ReadyFairfax pic.twitter.com/jvO1HoNDGh
— 😷 Fairfax County Government 😷🇺🇸 (@fairfaxcounty) September 26, 2018
More on the test:
Don’t be surprised when your phone gives off a loud buzz next Weds. 10/3 at 2:18 pm! FEMA is testing the nation's Wireless Emergency Alerts system. It’s only a test, no cause for alarm. pic.twitter.com/n4IC7Ro0so
— City of Falls Church (@FallsChurchGov) September 26, 2018