WASHINGTON—The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Wednesday held a hearing on the nomination of Richard Serino to be Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Serino is currently Chief of Boston Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

          “Chief Serino has an extraordinary record and will be a great compliment to FEMA Director Craig Fugate,” Lieberman said.  “He has experience on the front lines of large-scale events and particularly timely is his work as Assistant Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, where he has overseen preparedness efforts for the H1N1 influenza.  I hope he is confirmed quickly.”

          Collins said: “If confirmed, Mr. Serino will join FEMA at a critical time.  As a result of changes from the Post-Katrina Reform Act and better leadership, our nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to disasters has improved dramatically.  Yet, challenges remain as the agency moves to implement all the reforms.  These range from improving FEMA’s management practices and strengthening FEMA’s regional offices to ensuring better collaboration with state and local officials.”  Collins told the nominee that FEMA must improve its relationship with local and state officials.  “These are our partners, not our adversaries,” she said, underscoring her concern that FEMA needs to work more collaboratively with local jurisdictions on important initiatives such as updating area flood maps.

           Serino has served Boston EMS for over 35 years, beginning his career as a volunteer ambulance medic in 1972 and steadily rising through the ranks with jobs of increasing responsibility until he was named Chief in 2000.  Serino has also received advanced education in government and emergency management techniques from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security.  Additionally, he has consulted and taught nationally and internationally on domestic preparedness issues.

           The Committee must still vote on Serino’s nomination before it can go before the full Senate for final approval.