Congresswoman Craig pushes for new, consolidated emergency operations center at MSP

A proposed new emergency operations center at MSP would put five response teams under one roof.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport wants to improve emergency responses by moving all its response teams under one roof. When it comes to emergency response, Chair of House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Congressman Peter DeFazio suspects MSP is stuck in the past.

“But let’s face it,” said Congressman DeFazio. “The security threats in the '60s when this airport was built were virtually non-existent.”

Airports across the globe have not necessarily adapted to the threats or risks. In 2016, suicide bombers attacked the Brussels, Belguim airport. Several months later in Instanbul, Turkey, there was a separate terrorist attack by gunmen with bombs. In both cases, emergency teams and coordination where scattered across the airport with no central response center.

If there was some kind of emergency or incident at MSP, crews would gather at an operations center outside of the airport fences. The fear is that could dramatically slow down the response. MSP is planning for a new emergency airport operations center inside the airport grounds.

The new operations center would consolidate five response teams including: Fire Station Number 2, Airport Police, the emergency communications center, airside operations, and space for the TSA.

The price tag is an estimated $77 million. Congressman Peter DeFazio says it just makes sense.

“Everybody is in the same room and you don’t have to relocate everybody to an EOC over here, bring the police over, bring the airport operations, bring over the FAA and everybody to another place,” said DeFazio. “That’s not optimal. That’s why I’m here.”

Beyond that, Congresswoman Angie Craig (D-Minnesota) says the region can’t risk ignoring the upgrades.

“This airport is such an economic engine of our community, and we need to be ready when and if events happen here,” said Congresswoman Craig.

MSP says it is looking to pay for half the operations center with local funds and the other half from other sources.

Chairman DeFazio says there are available federal airport improvement program funds to possibly contribute to the construction. Airport officials want the new emergency operations center up and running by 2022.