Mason Names Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response

Posted: February 3, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

David Farris
David Farris

To heighten campus safety and improve emergency preparedness programs, Mason appointed David Farris as its first director of emergency preparedness and response.

Farris was formerly Mason’s occupational safety and environmental compliance manager.

The new position was created in response to rising expectations from the federal, state and local governments, as well as the Mason community, to have strategically run emergency preparedness programs in place.

Just two months after moving into the position, Farris is working to align Mason’s safety goals with federally regulated emergency preparedness programs.

He is also focused on streamlining Mason’s internal emergency notification procedures, as well as increasing communication with university departments involved in emergency preparation and response.

“Mason has the potential, personnel and resources to become a regional and national leader in higher education emergency preparedness,” Farris says.

“I believe this is evidenced by the creation of this position and the strong administrative commitment to providing a safe and healthy working and learning environment.”

Farris is responsible for ensuring that emergency response plans and programs are designed, implemented, practiced and revised as necessary to help Mason and the surrounding community efficiently respond in an emergency.

The primary concern is to reduce, mitigate or eliminate health and safety hazards to students, faculty, staff or campus visitors.

Many of these enhancements to campus security and emergency procedures may not be readily apparent, but Farris believes they will greatly augment the university’s emergency operations.

Though many might think the collaborative efforts of the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHS) and the University Police focus on terrorism and crime, the most common emergency scenarios impacting Mason involve severe weather, hazardous materials incidents and regional emergencies that require university resources.

“As regulations in the health and safety fields continually evolve, Mason’s focus is on meeting those regulations and exceeding expectations with regard to emergency preparedness,” says Julie Zobel, executive director of EHS.

“We’re confident that Dave will do an exceptional job to keep Mason on pace with those expectations because of his forward-thinking and proactive approach, as well as a remarkable ability to effectively network with departments across the university.”

Farris has worked at Mason for nearly five years — first as a chemical hygiene officer before becoming occupational safety and environmental compliance manager.

He has prior experience developing multiple safety programs and strategies for Mason. He also served as Mason’s primary liaison to federal and local agencies for issues related to environmental regulations.

A certified hazardous materials manager and chemical hygiene officer, Farris has extensive safety training with radioactive materials and hazardous waste.

He earned a BA degree in biology from Texas A&M University in 1999 and an MBA from Mason in 2007.

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