By David Fleet
Groveland Twp.- On Monday morning the Mobilization Center for Michigan Task Force 1, 7337 Grange Hall Road was officially dedicated—providing a home to supplies and equipment used in the event of a major catastrophe.
The Michigan Mutual Aid Box Alarm System or MABAS storage warehouse is a 17,000 square feet facility relocated from a hangar at the Pontiac-Oakland Airport earlier this year and now located on about two acres of township property.
The structure provides a location for workers, logistics, support vehicles, boats for surface water rescue, medical supplies, generators, ATVs, and vans to move the team of about 150 statewide when needed.
“For people who think that sometimes government can’t work together, the MABAS project is the best sterling example I’ve ever seen of having the federal government, the state government, the county government, the fire marshall, all the dedicated personnel, local township government and our corporate citizen Berry Bass—everyone kept their eye on the ball,” said Bob DePalma, township supervisor. It’s a phenomenal story to get this facility here today.”
Livonia Fire Chief Shadd A. Whitehead, Michigan Task Force 1 member provided an overview of the MABAS project. MABAS is funded by state governments and designed to streamline emergency and fire services resources. In addition, MABAS coordinates large scale events such as major fires, train derailments, tornadoes, wildfires, domestic or foreign terrorism and other events that may overwhelm local resources.
“There have been so many blood sweat and tears over the past 10 years by many individuals to put this together,” said Whitehead. “There are now 26 divisions across the state that are now part of the framework that’s MABAS. It accounts for about half the 450 fire departments statewide the participate in MABAS. Today the response teams can be sent statewide or nationwide if needed,” he said.
Ruth Johnson, Michigan Secretary of State and township resident presented an American flag flown over the Michigan Capitol on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2017.
“The MABAS is a tool chest for first responders,” said Johnson. “And because of it we can all sleep a little sounder at night. I want to thank everyone who really made this happen. I became involved in politics because of this very property (where the MABAS building is now located). Over 30 years ago one of the largest companies in the world wanted to put one of the largest toxic and hazardous waste facilities here in the mined out gravel pit (of Groveland Township). We knew that would contaminate the ground water. Groveland Township (was so small then) it did not even have a traffic light then. They spent $7 million fighting Groveland but because the citizens came together with the local officials I’m glad to say I’m not standing on a toxic waste facility today. So it makes me proud of all the things local officials have done, they have never stopped working on this piece of property that actually helps people rather then hurts them.”
Steve McGee, township fire chief and MTF-1 member who was key in moving the project forward emphasized the importance of the MABAS position in the state.
“Preparedness saves lives,” said McGee. “We can get to 80 percent of the residents in the state within two and a half hours from here in the township. The location is key—teams can now mobilize and get to a major disaster within 72 hours anywhere in the state—by then FEMA will get there.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA would then provide long term assistance to the community.