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Former Firefighter Seeks Capital, Grants for First-Responder Company

SPRING CITY, Tenn. -- A retired Florida firefighter is launching a company to assist emergency workers being deployed to major disasters anywhere in the nation, building his business to address past shortcomings in response efforts.

"I researched the response efforts at the World Trade Center, Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and Hurricane Katrina," said Marc Klein, chief executive of Governor's Mobile Tactical Command Inc. "We found there were a lot of communications problems."

Mr. Klein said he is discussing his company at 10 a.m. today with local officials in Dayton, although he already has spoken with Spring City Mayor Mary Sue Garrison.

"If he can bring the players together, it would be a wonderful concept for the Spring City area," Ms. Garrison said. "I think it's a concept whose time has come, but finding investors will be an issue."

Mr. Klein said he spent three years researching his concept and writing a business plan. The Governor's Mobile Tactical Command will become operational this summer or fall once he has secured funding.

He has discussed his $75 million to $100 million concept with dozens of Fortune 500 companies, he said, and is close to signing several investors.

Mr. Klein last fall relocated to Spring City from the Orlando area, where he worked 31 years as a firefighter and training officer.

He selected Tennessee because the Volunteer State is more centrally located to the majority of the continental United States than Florida, he said. He and his wife, Katherine, settled on Spring City in 2007 after they drove through the area.

Governor's Mobile Tactical Command has taken an option to buy a parcel of land in Spring City next to the future General Shale Brick Inc. brick plant, said Teresa Boyer, broker-owner of Best Realty GMAC, the company's real estate agent.

A five-story command center is planned for the site, with construction starting later this spring, said Birch Arnold, president of contractor RBA Construction. Mr. Klein said he hopes to receive donations to build memorials to fallen firefighters and other emergency personnel.

About 45 medical, rescue and mechanical experts are ready to relocate to Spring City from around the nation once the company launches, he said. He will hire up to 460 workers, most locally, when the company launches.

The company will establish an emergency response college, The College of Field Command & Operations, in Spring City, and is seeking accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education, he said. Mr. Klein said he taught emergency vehicle operations at the University of Central Florida.

Mr. Klein said he plans to approach Congress this spring to obtain federal funding, and has had preliminary discussions with several state governments about contracting to assist with disaster response.

Mr. Klein will film a television segment in March on unified tactical command systems with retired Army Gen. Alexander Haig.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE SERVICES

Local and state government officials would have access to satellite communications, a mobile command center, hazardous material team, a helicopter, generators and more during a disaster, Mr. Klein said. The company will deploy around 125 workers plus resources to anywhere in the Continental United States from Spring City, Mr. Klein said.

The company can serve as a 911 call center for a community that has lost its communications infrastructure during a disaster, Mr. Klein said, by using a satellite to route the calls through its Spring City facility.

"At the Trade Center, everyone rushed there and there was no control for several days," Mr. Klein said. "At New Orleans, the entire infrastructure collapsed and there was no command structure. At the Murrah Building, the fire chief maintained control throughout the process."

Governor's Mobile Tactical Command has a patent pending on a security badge that all its personnel would wear at a disaster scene, he said.

The badge uses GPS tracking to locate the worker if he is injured, Mr. Klein said. Each badge will have the worker's biometrics data for added security, he said.

Local officials will have access to the badges and can require contractors doing clean-up work to use the badges when dealing with homeowners, which can prevent price gouging, Mr. Klein said.

The company has ordered the first of 38 custom-designed Chevrolet C-8500 trucks for its response fleet, said Joe Fox, a commercial sales representative for Chevrolet.

The truck body components can be outfitted with equipment for firefighting, rescue work or medical services. The trucks have sufficient fuel capacity to drive cross-country without refueling, Mr. Fox said.

Governor's Mobile Tactical Command also will dispatch a command center, communications equipment, plus surgical, firefighting, emergency medical services, security, clergy and food services teams. The response team will include disaster response experts to advise local elected officials and emergency commanders.

"We're here to assist the local, state and federal governments at their time of need," Mr. Klein said. "We can run the infrastructure if the community has collapsed."

E-mail Jason M. Reynolds at jreynolds@timesfreepress.com

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