Feature Story | 11-Aug-2023

Cutting-edge complex

Sandia Labs ushers in new era of emergency preparedness

DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories opened the doors August 7 to its new, cutting-edge Emergency Operations Center aimed at enhancing emergency incident management coordination and communications for the workforce and the community in the event of an emergency, disaster or crisis.

The $42.5 million, 25,000-square-foot facility, located on Kirtland Air Force Base, is scheduled for full operations by early 2024. It will house the National Nuclear Security Administration and Sandia emergency management staff offices, along with the 24/7 Emergency Management Communications Center. This center will feature dedicated incident-management and coordination spaces, as well as multi-purpose training rooms. The construction project was awarded to Summit Construction of Albuquerque.

Emergency Operations Center Functions

Functions of the Emergency Operations Center include round-the-clock coverage during emergencies or crises staffed by the labs’ emergency management specialists. The new facility is equipped with improved tools and enhanced capabilities to collect, analyze and share incident information with internal and external emergency response organizations, such as Kirtland Fire Emergency Services, Sandia Medical Clinic or the University of New Mexico Hospital.

The new Emergency Operations Center will be home to Sandia’s Emergency Management organization overseeing day-to-day operations. Additionally, the labs’ Emergency Management Communications Center will provide 24/7 support for emergency and nonemergency calls, with space for three dedicated 911 call stations, two dedicated nonemergency call stations and one dedicated Sandia duty officer station.

The facility boasts redundant mechanical and electrical systems, a backup generator, showers, a kitchen with a pantry, a dining area and temporary sleeping areas, ensuring it can operate independently for at least 72 hours.

Improvements with new Emergency Operations Center

The new center provides numerous improvements to support Sandia’s emergency management operations and response capabilities. Examples include:

  • Larger, more flexible space.
  • More area for a comprehensive EOC structure that aligns with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Incident Management System.
  • Accommodations for up to 102 EOC staff — 62 in the main area and 40 in an overflow area — compared to the 18-staff capacity of the current center.
  • Improved technology to share a common operating picture throughout the facility via an advanced situation center and a series of video walls and monitors.
  • Advanced multi-purpose training room with the latest technology.

NNSA’s construction pilot project

Sandia’s new Emergency Operations Center is supported by the NNSA’s Enhanced Minor Construction and Commercial Practices, or EMC2, initiative and is the fourth of four initial projects in the pilot program. This initiative allows the acquisition of non-complex, non-nuclear facilities following commercial best practices within NNSA requirements. The streamlined acquisition and execution processes under EMC2 accelerate delivery and increase buying power for commercial-like construction.

With the new Emergency Operations Center, Sandia National Laboratories reinforces its commitment to maintaining a robust emergency response system that safeguards its workforce, the community and the critical work carried out at the labs.

From the podium

Melanie Stansbury, U.S. Representative, New Mexico 1st Congressional District

“This facility will help ensure safety and peace of mind so that our scientists, engineers and service members can do their jobs. You are on the edges of scientific discovery and you are ensuring our national security, not only here in the United States, but abroad. So, I want to say thank you for your service, whether you’re in the sciences, engineering, you’re on the front lines as a member of our national security apparatus, whether you’re a member of the armed forces or the National Guard or you are a support person who helps make everything that happens on this campus possible.”

Jill Hruby, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration

“The new Emergency Operations center is the last of four pilot projects supported by NNSA’s Enhancement Partner, Construction and Commercial Practices (program). This pilot program presents an opportunity to streamline construction and requirements using approaches common in commercial construction. This new facility represents our commitment to a modern enterprise capable of meeting our mission requirements and giving our workforce the facilities they deserve. It is not buildings that make our mission a success. It’s people. So, for those of you that are going to be in this building, thank you.”

David Gibson, Chief Operations Officer and Deputy Labs Director

“This new expanded facility has a ton of new technology that allows us to really align our EOC capabilities with the national standards that exist for this important functional area. The center has three 911 call stations and two nonemergency call stations that will be used to monitor activities across the laboratories. This allows us to share important information with collaborators and stakeholders across the enterprise and the broader community here. This is a very important facility as a symbol of our commitment to the safety and health of everyone.”

David Stuhan, Sandia Labs Environment, Safety & Health director and chief of safety

“This new state-of-the art facility is a symbol of the importance of being prepared and to really have the capacity and capability to respond to all hazards and threats. This facility truly reflects the laboratories commitment to protect our workforce, the public, property and the environment. And this facility will operate as the guardian for our national security mission here at Sandia.”

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