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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) yesterday announced the creation of a full-time fire and rescue liaison at its Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC). A uniformed fire officer will now help coordinate emergency communication between the agency and first responders, WMATA officials said in a press release.The new officer also will develop policy recommendations and provide supplemental emergency training for rail controllers.Created July 1, the position is the result of ongoing discussions between WMATA and the region's fire chiefs, agency officials said."The new fire/rescue liaison at the Rail Operations Control Center gives first responders 'eyes and ears' on Metrorail operations and will serve to further strengthen the coordination between our operations staff and emergency personnel," said WMATA Police Chief Ron Pavlik.Within the first two days of assuming the position, the liaison had helped with more than two dozen fire and emergency medical incidents that affected several 911 centers and emergency response operations, added Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor.Earlier this year, a smoke-related incident occurred on WMATA's rail line near L'Enfant Plaza Station, leaving one person dead and more than 80 others injured. Since then, WMATA has undertaken a number of other safety measures aimed at improving emergency response, including increased training, emergency drills and enhanced radio testing protocols that provide a real-time outage map for controllers and first responders, agency officials said.
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