Fairbanks Borough weighs security needs

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Fairbanks security chief Tim Biggane says the area was pretty well prepared for disaster before Sept. 11.

Other than buying a few more hazardous materials suits and coordinating more with the military, high-profile businesses and law enforcement, few borough resources have gone to boosting community security.

But that may change.

Biggane is waiting to see what happens with Gov. Tony Knowles' statewide security plan, announced Monday. He also wants to see what the federal government will require before he decides what additional resources, if any, he may ask for in the next borough budget.

Knowles' plan calls for improved security of Alaska's communication, transportation and public utilities infrastructure.

Some of the specifics the governor has proposed for Fairbanks already exist in the community, such as a hazardous materials response team and decontamination equipment.

Meanwhile, Biggane told a group of business people at a luncheon Tuesday that Fairbanks North Star Borough residents need to do their part to keep the community safe.

''Government cannot step in and take care of everybody's needs,'' he said. ''A terrorist event is no different than any other disaster, though it gets a lot more publicity.''

Biggane said one of the best things to come out of post-Sept. 11 community preparedness is that various groups, including police and the military, are thinking about security on more of a borough-wide scale. Previously, he said, agencies were too busy to come together and discuss overall community security.

''Everybody is sharing information back and forth,'' Biggane said.

Biggane spoke not just about terrorism but about safety from other disasters as well. Families should have enough supplies on hand to survive for three to seven days, he said.

He told the business leaders to think about their office setups. Are shelves with heavy objects on them attached to walls above people's heads?

''There's a lot of really easy things we can do to be safer,'' Biggane said.

He added that people should also think about the heightened stress the terrorist threats and war on terrorism have created.

''Things are moving and happening all the time around us,'' he said. ''Get down to your kids' level and start to talk about things.''

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