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Public Works First Responder

Post Date:05/15/2019 3:36 PM

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush, Congress, and the Department of Homeland Security recognized the first responders’ critical role by issuing the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA) on November 25, 2002, and the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8), National Preparedness, on December 17, 2003. The HSA defines “emergency response providers” in 6 USC 101 as “Federal, State, and local emergency public safety, law enforcement, emergency response, emergency medical…, and related personnel, agencies, and authorities.” HSPD-8 expands on that definition by specifically mentioning Public Works as first responders “who in the early stages of an incident are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment, … [and] provide immediate support services during prevention, response, and recovery operations.”

These directives recognized a Public Works response to emergencies and disasters as an absolute necessity, and directed the Federal Government to include Public Works alongside all disciplines during prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery operations. 

In an effort to expand the understanding of the role of Public Works in emergency response, the American Public Works Association (APWA) recently unveiled the new “Public Works First Responder” symbol (see below). The symbol, which uses colors we all see around construction zones, barricades, and cones or barrels, is meant to draw a connection, and serve as a reminder, that these public works professionals are present every day and are the foundation of a community that is always pushing forward, no matter what obstacles might get in the way.  


As a proud APWA member, the Carol Stream Public Works Department is partnering with this campaign to help raise awareness of the important services all Public Works Departments provide. This effort will also coincide with National Public Works Week (May 19 – 25) to recognize and celebrate our Public Works employees and the tireless commitment they have to serve the community.

Follow #CSPWFirstResponder on social media next week as we recognize and celebrate our public works professionals!

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