Overview of Eric Cote’s Disaster Safety Initiatives and Expertise
As a former senior advisor and press secretary to a governor and member of Congress, Eric has a strong understanding of public policy, media relations and message development. When joined with Eric’s passion for client campaigns that promote safety, his skills are a powerful combination.
Eric’s experience in the disaster safety arena began in 1999 when he helped turn the Oklahoma City bombing into a catalyzing event for a life-saving American industry. With the creation of the Protecting People First Foundation, Eric and his team developed and led a national campaign on behalf of manufacturers of protective glazing technology. (Click here for case study on PPFF)
Just two months after 9/11, Eric organized a Congressional hearing where PPFF bomb blast experts briefed members of Congress on the range of technologies available to protect windows in federal buildings.
In 2004, when Hurricane Charley roared ashore in Punta Gorda, Florida, Eric Cote saw an opportunity for protective glazing manufacturers to document the efficacy of their technology (impact-resistant windows/doors, hurricane shutters and window films) in protecting people and property from hurricanes. Under Eric’s direction, the PPFF teamed up with noted structural engineers from ABS Consulting to launch Project Safe Windows, a comprehensive research initiative to evaluate window damage in Hurricane Charley. The culmination of Project Safe Windows was the publication of Finding the Breaking Point, an acclaimed report authored by Eric Cote and his colleagues that documented the success and failure of various window protection technologies. The report was peer reviewed by a noted structural engineer and was hailed by Craig Fugate, then the Director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management.
Eric’s expertise in the protective glazing arena led to his hiring by protective glazing manufacturers to advance public policy campaigns and building code reform aimed at increasing the use of technology to protect people from flying glass hazards.
The depth of Eric’s technical knowledge about window protection, coupled with his broader policy, media relations and communications capabilities, paved the way for his work with the noted disaster safety non-profit group FLASH®, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. Working on behalf of FLASH, Eric and DSS research partners conducted extensive research campaigns for the Florida Division of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Community Affairs to help develop messaging around the protection of people and property from manmade and natural disasters. In addition to research assignments, Eric and his team were retained by FLASH to develop an overhaul of the www.FloridaDisaster.org website. Later assignments from FLASH included creation of a new www.BluePrintforSafety.org website and the website for StormStruck, an interactive exhibit at Walt Disney World’s® Epcot® Theme Park in Buena Vista, FL. (www.Stormstruck.com).
Other players in the disaster safety marketplace tapped Eric for his expertise. When Wayne-Dalton, at the time one of the world’s largest manufacturers of garage doors, needed help understanding how to market impact-resistant garage doors to consumers, Eric and his team was brought in to lead a major research initiative. When manufacturers of flexible hurricane shutters needed assistance building a coalition to fight proposed building code modifications, Eric’s team was tapped for this specialized assignment.
DSS’s disaster safety practice drew significantly when Cara Klein, a noted disaster safety communications expert, joined the agency. (Click here for Cara Klein bio.) Today, DSS is proud to count a number of leading disaster safety organizations as clients. Among them is Voices of September 11th; RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation; Rx Response, an initiative of America’s bio-pharmaceutical supply system; the Lightning Protection Institute and Fluor Corporation, the world’s largest publicly-traded engineering, procurement, construction management company.
Eric Cote’s Areas of Technical Specialty
Eric Cote has extensive experience working in the product development and building code arena for protective glazing products. Eric is not an engineer but has worked closely with engineers and bomb blast experts to understand the technical underpinnings of federal requirements related to protection of federal buildings and residential/commercial building codes governing opening protection against hurricanes and other wind storms.
This expertise has been tapped by agency clients to lead a successful post-Katrina campaign to encourage the State of Mississippi to adopt the International Residential Building Code. Eric’s expertise in this area was also tapped by a coalition of fabric-based hurricane shutter manufacturers to mount a coordinated challenge to proposed building code modifications that could have given an unfair advantage to a competitive window protection technology.
More recently, Eric has worked closely with code officials in the health care arena, developing a deep understanding of current code requirements related to backup generator power for health care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, long term care facilities and dialysis centers.