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Wanted: Co. to Maintain Emergency Equipment

A “sources sought notice” recently issued by the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms gives an interesting glimpse into a few of the many security upgrades that have taken place on the Senate side of Capitol Hill since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The notice — which was issued because the current contract for maintenance of Senate emergency systems is set to expire this year — points out that since the terrorist attacks more than five years ago, the Capitol Police Board and the Sergeant-at-Arms “have greatly expanded the protection and preparedness of the Senate” and that today the Senate counts more than 17,000 adult gas masks and 500 baby masks as part of its emergency response stores.

According to the Web site for the company that makes the masks used by the Senate, the ILC Dover SCAPE CBRN30 escape hood is a “next generation” civilian gas mask approved as a 30-minute general category escape mask that meets chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear air-purifying standards. The hood is designed specifically for untrained users, and “when the product is removed from its package the integral blower initiates automatically thereby providing trusted protection to the wearer.”

The Senate also has some 700 “victim rescue” escape hoods that provide up to an hour of protection and were designed to resist high heat, flames and fumes. According to the maker’s Web site, “the Essex PB&R VRU+ is a self-contained protective breathing device intended for trained individuals in rescue and escape situations from chem/bio agents, fire, smoke, and toxic fumes.”

According to the notice, 1,000 Motorola wireless emergency annunciators and some 400 other emergency supply kits also are part of the Senate’s stores.

The notice also mentions that the Sergeant-at-Arms office currently is conducting market research to determine which companies can provide support services for its emergency preparedness operations that include on-site logistic and inventory support and general maintenance.

“The contract we currently have with a company is due to expire, so this is part of the process to get a new company to do some of the management of the equipment,” Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said of the notice. “It’s not uncommon to ask for these sources sought notices. … It gives the contract administrators a better idea of what the field is out there.”

A final cost and length of the next contract will be developed after companies respond to a request for proposals that will be released in the coming months.

Gainer added that as emergency preparedness plans have developed over the years, what his office and the Capitol Police and others have tried to do “is get out of the business of maintenance.”

Using private contractors to handle some of the maintenance issues makes more sense when it comes to providing protection on Capitol Hill, Gainer said.

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