AOA Startup Grant 2018

Professional Emergency Planning

David A. Cook and Henry J. Kolakoski

Improved commercial fire response
David A. Cook and Henry J. Kolakoski, Professional Emergency Planning LLC
Past Chief David Cook:  David's life experiences provide a unique and virtually "perfect fit" with the goals of Professional Emergency Planning.  His professional experience spans both the emergency services and small business.  In the emergency services there are almost 40 years in every aspect of firefighting and emergency management, ranging from firefighter to Chief, to Director of Public Safety for Rensselaer County, NY.

He began his professional emergency services career as Director, Bureau of Emergency Services, Rensselaer County (1994-2000) where he managed a staff of over 150 personnel with a combined Operating and Capital Budget of more than $12 million.  When the County reorganized he was given the new Bureau of Public Safety overseeing communications and managing all Public Safety issues for the County such as provisioning of countywide fire/EMS emergency services, Director of the 911 Center and all related personnel duties, disaster preparedness, response and recovery, including countywide hazardous materials monitoring and spill response, and interfacing with State agencies and their resources.

Hired away from the County by New York State, he moved to the NYS Office for Technology as Associate Director for Outreach (2000 to 2007) where his responsibilities included administering the Outreach Unit of the Statewide Wireless Network Project Office on a $2.5 billion communications project, providing support as necessary to the NYS Office of Homeland Security to ensure compliance with plans developed by them at the direction of the US Department of Homeland Security, and Chairing the NYS Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee.

In the business world, David started out as a third generation photographer in a family owned studio in 1974.  Today he is with Federal Engineering, Inc. where he started in 2007 as Director of Operations, and in 2008, he moved to the position of Director of Marketing.  In this position he is responsible for marketing this national company to State, Local, and Federal entities.
Past Chief Henry Kolakoski:  Henry has a unique blend of life skills and experiences that greatly aid the goals of Professional Emergency Planning.   His experiences include emergency services, training and education.

In the emergency services, he has a lengthy career of over 40 years.  His fire service career includes the rank of Chief for a very progressive volunteer department.  The planning and leadership skills he gained in the fire service served him well in his professional career.
His primary vocation was that of Social Studies teacher with the East Greenbush Central School District.  In addition to the usual teaching responsibilities, he became Director of Emergency Planning and was responsible for ensuring that seven schools, the administration center and the transportation center were prepared for all unforeseen natural and manmade disasters.  Henry authored plans, revised plans, devised student and staff emergency drills and acted as a liaison with local police, fire, EMS and government agencies.  His quality work was recruited by the Town of East Greenbush where he drafted and revised the Emergency Plans for the Town of East Greenbush in 1995 and then co-chaired the revision committees in 1998, and again in 2003.  The revised plans are still in effect.
From 1991-1996, Henry was heavily engaged in the instructional phase of the emergency services as an instructor within SUNY's  Empire State College Emergency Services Program located in Saratoga, NY.  He also began a teaching and writing career with the Emergency Services Education and Consulting Group (ESECG), a Subsidiary of VFIS, Glatfelter Insurance, York, Pennsylvania, from 1988 - Present.  He continues to serve as a free lance writer for multiple fire service agencies, such as the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs (NYSAFC) and the Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY).

A description of our proposed project:
Professional Emergency Planning (PEP) was founded after a firsthand experience identified the need.  Subsequent market research validated the idea and justified pursuit of the concept.  PEP's mission is to dramatically improve response to commercial structure fires and thereby improve life safety and property preservation.  PEP is designed to provide Fire Chiefs with a simplified plan of a commercial building before a fire happens.  These plans will include such important information as the location of emergency exits, the shut-off points for natural gas and electricity, the location of fire hydrants and contact information for the building occupants.  When an emergency happens, the Chief will have the plan available and will be able to better direct his resources for a more efficient, faster, and safer conclusion to the public safety hazard.
Although the concept of preplanning a building is not new, the availability of a service that creates and provides those plans is.  Firefighters used to create these plans themselves.  However, with the decline of volunteer resources, and the negative impact of our current economy reducing city fire department staffing levels, there are increasingly no firefighters available for a simple administrative matter like creating a preplan.
This is a significant issue that faces our emergency responders today, created by factors beyond their control.  PEP believes through a professional skilled approach, a very affordable solution can be offered that will offer improved safety to the victims, and the brave men and women dedicated to providing public safety at their own peril.  As former volunteers who have faced fire too many times, all of the founders of PEP believe they have an idea that will improve the chances of success, when it counts the most!
With the founders contributing from their personal savings to fund the startup of PEP, there is no surplus cash, and financial accountability is planned and tracked very carefully.  Preparing to market our business has been carefully designed and scheduled for when funds can be made available.  Receiving the grant will guarantee a successful kick-off to educating our potential clients on this new service by ensuring we have the necessary tools to sell our services.

What's next: 
Our basic business structure has been established, the legal relationships between the co-founders have been established, and Professional Emergency Planning has been registered with the State of New York.   Additionally, other necessary business components have been researched, funded, and are now in place such as our lawyer, insurance, financial procedures, and our Limited Liability Corporation status has been granted.  We have also created a partnership with The CAD Zone ©, the software provider for the program that will run at the core of the business.

Our next phase is to educate our potential clients.  This will be accomplished through a carefully planned sales and marketing program.  Since the majority of our clients will be government based, blanket marketing through mailings, emails and cold-calling is not likely to be effective.  Our business venture is a new concept to the emergency services and therefore requires careful presentation, since you only have one opportunity to make a first impression.  There is a track record within the fire service of great success for new services that simplify and reduce the workload for volunteers and career firefighters alike, when those services have been properly presented.  We need to educate and successfully demonstrate our services to key champions within the fire service who will help us obtain a good reputation and give us credibility.  After these are achieved, we will be able to schedule meetings with key decision makers and present our products and services and build the business through normal business practices.

The grant monies offered by Sunmark will be used to fund the first several demonstration projects, offset the costs for producing quality finished products, and launch PEP's next phase.  These early marketing efforts will establish that reputation which we are seeking and help move PEP into active production across New York State.
In support of this grant application, a short video has been produced and will be made available to the judges.

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