Park City official nears retirement after fires, swine flu, snowstorms
November 23, 2017
Hugh Daniels arrives at work not knowing if he will deal with a fire, a pandemic or a major snowstorm on any given day.
Daniels, who is City Hall's first-ever emergency program manager, addressed them all and numerous other situations during the nearly 12 years he has held the position. He plans to retire in late spring or early summer, ending a unique career at the Marsac Building that also involved one term as a member of the Park City Council.
"Prepare for everything and then you're prepared for anything," Daniels said about the emergency program manager post. "I think Park City has among the best emergency management programs in the state."
Daniels, 66, was hired by Park City at a time when the municipal government wanted to ensure City Hall itself as well as the wider community was prepared to respond to emergencies. It was just a few years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the 2002 Winter Olympics. Both heightened Park City's security planning, but the role Daniels played as the emergency program manager was broader than guarding against a strike in the community.
Daniels, based at the Park Avenue police station but working directly for the Park City manager, was critical as City Hall drafted a comprehensive plan to manage emergencies, a document that, while used almost exclusively by officials, outlines how the municipal government responds to crises. He has also overseen community outreach efforts.
During his tenure, an emergency operations center was created at the police station and City Hall acquired a used mobile command trailer that is deployed for special events and emergencies. He also led a range of training sessions meant to prepare someone for an emergency.
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Daniels was a pivotal figure in the response to a wildfire in the Aerie and flooding in Park City and Summit County. He assisted Summit County officials during a wildfire near the Rockport Reservoir. Daniels also responded to structure fires and natural-gas leaks. He was one of the staffers heavily involved in the response to swine flu cases in Park City.
"I'm like an insurance policy," he said. "You don't ever want to use it. You're happy to have it when you need it."
Daniels intends to provide consulting services in emergency management once he retires. He also wants to teach in the field.
Daniels served as a City Councilor for four years ending in 2000, holding office at a time of fierce debates about growth and during an important stretch of preparations for the Olympics.
The Utah Emergency Management Association once recognized Daniels as the 'Member of the Year' for his work, including the work in 2009 on what were the first swine flu cases in the state. Daniels was a paramedic for 12 years in Pasadena, California, before moving to Park City, working events like the Super Bowl and Rose Bowl.
City Hall recently posted an advertisement seeking applications from people interested in the emergency manager position. The application deadline is Dec. 15. The position's salary range runs from $70,000 to $84,213.98 per year and carries City Hall's package of benefits.