I am always looking for articles to reinforce topics covered in my courses. I had just finished a section on the tendency for local governments to save money by eliminating the emergency manager and reassigning those duties to the fire or police departments. The sheriff of Butler county had the same thoughts apparently and his suggestion of taking over the emergency management function was not embraced. Link
My comments here are not an argument for or against the performance of the county EMA director. Most of Southwestern Ohio is still struggling with getting power back to the residents. Butler county has been especially hard hit and it would premature to gauge how effectively the county EMA director and other agencies responded. There is plenty of time for that later.
My point here is only to show the need, where fiscally possible, to have a county EMA director who is separate and distinct from the fire chief and police chief. It may seem possible for a sheriff or fire chief to handle emergency management responsibilities when things are situation normal. However, once a disaster strikes law enforcement and fire/EMS will be dealing with the immediate response actions. The EMA director assumes the role of resource director, helping to identify what is needed and then coordinating with the appropriate agency to obtain the needed resources.
The sheriff is too busy during a tornado or blackout helping maintain peace. Fire and EMS are busy rescuing victims and provided urgent care. Neither of those agencies benefit by having their senior leader trying to do two jobs at once. I hope as Butler county works through their recovery operations that cooler heads will prevail. They need to maintain a separate emergency manager who is NOT also a dual-hatted fire chief of police chief.