WASHINGTON – President Bush’s pick to take over leadership of the Federal Emergency Management Agency has strong Maryland ties — he has been administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration in Emmitsburg for almost four years.
In addition to his new position, R. David Paulison continues to serve as head of the administration, a division of FEMA, which has approximately 200 regular employees and is headquartered about 70 miles north of Washington on the Pennsylvania border.
The U.S. Fire Administration is home to the National Fire Academy and the Emergency Management Institute, both of which provide advanced training for high-level leaders involved in emergency responses nationwide.
The Emergency Management Institute trains mayors, police chiefs, fire chiefs and other key leaders from about 50 communities each year, said Tom Olshanski, spokesman for the administration. The training includes time for the leaders to work together on strategic plans for major disasters that may happen in their jurisdiction.
Through all of its programs “the U.S. Fire Administration has trained about a million first responders since 9-11,” Olshanski said.
While the administration primarily focuses on training American emergency workers, it also shares strategies with leaders from countries like India, Japan and Turkey, Olshanski said.
In spite of widespread criticism for the president in the aftermath of Katrina, many leaders say they approve of Paulison’s appointment.
“The appointment of R. David Paulison to replace Michael Brown is great news for America and the victims of Hurricane Katrina,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., in a written statement released Monday. “President Bush is to be applauded for selecting a highly qualified and experienced emergency management official.”
Before being appointed administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration, Paulison had a distinguished 30-year career with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department in his native Florida.
He began as a rescue firefighter in 1971 and moved up through the ranks to be fire chief with responsibility for almost 2,000 employees and a budget of over $200 million.
Neither Paulison nor his FEMA staff could be reached for comment.