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Complete a 1 1/2page reflection of your readings and material.  The first paragraph will be a summary describing the overall themes.  The rest will list your 3 main takeaways from the readings, 3 practice implementation recommendations and finally, a paragraph reflecting on what you learned, such as something you haven’t thought about before, a new connection of ideas or if you agree or disagree and why.

National Response Framework

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Fourth Edition
October 28, 2019

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E x e c u t i v e S u m m a r y
The National Response Framework (NRF) provides foundational emergency management doctrine for
how the Nation responds to all types of incidents. The NRF is built on scalable, flexible, and adaptable
concepts identified in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to align key roles and
responsibilities across the Nation. The structures, roles, and responsibilities described in this
Framework can be partially or fully implemented in the context of a threat or hazard, in anticipation of
a significant event, or in response to an incident. Implementation of the structures and procedures
described herein allows for a scaled response, delivery of specific resources and capabilities, and a
level of coordination appropriate to each incident.

Responding to disasters and emergencies requires the cooperation of a variety of organizations; the
larger or more complex the incident, the greater the number and variety of organizations that must
respond. Think of a residential fire: Firefighters are leading the charge; public works may be on scene
providing traffic control; police are providing security; emergency medical services personnel are
triaging, transporting, and redistributing injured to local hospitals; and a local nonprofit or voluntary
organization (e.g., American Red Cross and Salvation Army) may be on hand to assist displaced
residents. For large disasters, such as major hurricanes or earthquakes, the incident complexity is
increased as others—such as states or tribes and, ultimately, the Federal Government—become
involved. Businesses, voluntary organizations, and other elements of the private sector are also key
stakeholders, providing the essential services that must be restored following an incident. The NRF
provides the foundation for how these organizations coordinate, integrate, and unify their response.

The unprecedented scale of recent disasters has spurred continued innovation in response operations
and highlighted the need for further progress to build resilient capabilities to respond to disasters of
increasing frequency and magnitude. This fourth edition of the NRF embraces lessons-learned from
those disasters and shares emerging best practices.

Since publication of the third edition of the NRF in 2016, disaster response operations have
underscored the paramount importance of sustaining essential community lifelines. The Framework
defines community lifelines as those services that enable the continuous operation of critical
government and business functions and are essential to human health and safety or economic security.
If disrupted, rapid stabilization of community lifelines is essential to restoring a sense of normalcy.
Recent disasters have illuminated two underlying features of community lifelines that highlight
opportunities to strengthen response planning and operations.

First, community lifelines are interdependent and vulnerable to cascading failures. For example,
communications and electric power systems rely on each other to function; severe damage to one will
disrupt the other. Most lifelines also rely on complex supply chains. Water and wastewater service
depend on the resupply of a broad array of chemicals and—if power goes out—fuel for emergency
generators. However, in a severe natural or human-caused incident, those supply chains themselves
may be broken.

Second, community lifeline stabilization relies on businesses and infrastructure owners and operators
who have the expertise and primary responsibility for managing their systems in emergencies.
Accordingly, new doctrine and coordination mechanisms are needed to enable the private sector to
play a larger, more comprehensive role in preparedness and response activities.

The NRF is structured to help jurisdictions, citizens, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and
businesses develop whole community plans, integrate continuity plans, and build capabilities to
respond to cascading failures among businesses, supply chains, and infrastructure sectors, as well as
collaborate with the private sector and NGOs to stabilize community lifelines and enable restoration

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of services in severe incidents. Critical infrastructure sector leadership (sector-specific agencies,
government coordinating councils, and sector coordinating councils) create an established network to
collaborate with their respective private sector partners and support cross-sector1 response operations.
Often, Emergency Support Functions (ESF) work with sector leadership to bolster preparedness for
cross-sector collaboration. This fourth edition of the NRF describes new initiatives that leverage
existing networks and better integrate business interests and infrastructure owners and operators into
the heart of emergency management.

The NRF describes ways to improve coordination and response structures to build preparedness for
catastrophic incidents. Stabilizing community lifelines in catastrophic incidents is vital and
extraordinarily difficult. Communities cannot meet these challenges solely by scaling up existing plans
and capabilities. Rather, new mechanisms are needed to supplement and integrate those already in
place and facilitate cross-sector coordination, while respecting the roles of private sector partners and
authorities of agencies at all levels of government.

A new ESF #14 – Cross-Sector Business and Infrastructure is introduced to focus on engaging private
sector interests and infrastructure owners and operators—particularly those in sectors not currently
aligned to other ESFs—and conducting cross-sector analysis to help inform decision making. ESF #14
relies on other ESFs aligned with a critical infrastructure sector to continue coordination with their
corresponding sector during response efforts. ESF #14 helps coordinate multi-sector response
operations between (or across) the government and private sector for natural or human-caused
catastrophic incidents that jeopardize national public health and safety, the economy, and national
security.

This edition of the Framework also builds on the response approach in previous editions to address
national security emergencies. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America notes
that potential adversaries are developing advanced weapons and capabilities that could threaten U.S.
critical infrastructure.2 Adversaries may also strategically target attacks to exploit interdependencies
between infrastructure sectors and magnify cascading failures between them, posing incident response
challenges above and beyond those created by earthquakes or other catastrophic natural hazards. The
initiatives in this Framework address the resulting challenges for consequence management in ways
that supplement and support other government, private sector, and NGO plans and coordinating
structures.

1 Cross-sector operations are those actions taken by public and private sector organizations from one or more of the
16 critical infrastructure sectors to help entities or facilities associated with other sectors respond to an incident, being
focused on preventing or mitigating cascading failures between sectors and restoring critical supply chains.
2 For more information on the National Security Strategy of the United States of America, see
https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf

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T a b l e o f C o n t e n t s

Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 1
Evolution of the Framework ………………………………………………………………………………………1
Framework Purpose and Organization ………………………………………………………………………2
Scope…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………3
Intended Audience …………………………………………………………………………………………………….5
Guiding Principles …………………………………………………………………………………………………….5

Foundational Components ………………………………………………………………………………. 8
Prioritized Stabilization of Community Lifelines ………………………………………………………..8
National Incident Management System …………………………………………………………………….11
Core Capabilities ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..12

Operational Coordination ………………………………………………………………………………. 15
Private Sector Engagement ………………………………………………………………………………………15
Locally Executed Response ………………………………………………………………………………………16
State, Tribal, Territorial, and Insular Area Managed Response ………………………………..18
Federally Supported Response …………………………………………………………………………………19

Roles and Responsibilities for Response ……………………………………………………….. 25
Communities ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………26
Local Government …………………………………………………………………………………………………..29
State, Tribal, Territorial, and Insular Area Government …………………………………………..30
Federal Government ………………………………………………………………………………………………..34

Federal Authorities ………………………………………………………………………………………… 42
Federal Response and Assistance Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and
Emergency Assistance Act ……………………………………………………………………………………….43
Federal Departments and Agencies Acting Under Their Own Authorities …………………44
Federal-to-Federal Support ……………………………………………………………………………………..46
International Support ………………………………………………………………………………………………46
Federal Response and Assistance Available Without a Stafford Act Declaration………..47

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Operational Planning …………………………………………………………………………………….. 47
Federal Planning ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..48
Application for Planning ………………………………………………………………………………………….49
Continuity Considerations ……………………………………………………………………………………….50

Supporting Resources …………………………………………………………………………………… 50
Maintenance ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………50

Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 51

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I n t r o d u c t i o n
The National Preparedness System outlines an organized process for the whole community3 to move
forward with its preparedness activities and achieve the National Preparedness Goal. The National
Response Framework (NRF) sets the strategy and doctrine for how the whole community builds,
sustains, and delivers the response core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal in an
integrated manner with the other mission areas. The fourth edition of the NRF emphasizes enhancing
the unity of effort between the government and the private sector through better coordination and
collaboration.

E v o l u t i o n o f t h e F r a m e w o r k
The NRF builds on over 25 years of federal response guidance, beginning with the Federal Response
Plan, published in 1992, and the National Response Plan, published in 2004. This fourth edition of the
NRF reorganizes and streamlines the previous version of the NRF, expands principles and
concepts to better integrate government and private sector response efforts, and introduces the
community lifelines concept and terminology.

This document supersedes the National Response Framework, Third Edition that was
issued in June 2016 and becomes effective 60 days after publication.

Community lifelines are those services that enable the continuous operation of critical government and
business functions and are essential to human health and safety or economic security. In serious but
purely local incidents, interruptions of water service, electric power, and other community lifeline
components are typically brief and easy to mitigate. However, severe and widespread incidents can
halt lifeline services for many weeks or months. Such disruptions are especially extensive in
catastrophic incidents and may result in mass casualties and other cascading consequences.

Making community lifelines a core focus of incident response within the NRF offers unique benefits
for incidents ranging from small-scale to catastrophic disasters. By building capabilities to stabilize4
and accelerate the restoration of community lifeline services, it will be possible to save countless lives,
limit damage to the economy, help maintain essential services for critical national security installations,
reduce the initial impacts of disasters, and facilitate recovery operations. While the primary focus of
incident response remains on stabilizing community lifelines, other secondary considerations regarding
the natural and cultural environment and economic factors are equally as important.

3 Whole community includes individuals and communities, businesses, private and public sector owners and operators
of critical infrastructure, faith-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and all levels of government (local,
regional/metropolitan, state, tribal, territorial, insular area, and federal). Whole community is defined in the National
Preparedness Goal as “a focus on enabling the participation in national preparedness activities of a wider range of
players from the private sector, including nongovernmental organizations and the general public, in conjunction with
the participation of all levels of governmental in order to foster better coordination and working relationships.”
4 Stabilization occurs when immediate threats to life and property are anticipated, resourced, and managed and basic
community lifeline services are provided to survivors.

https://www.fema.gov/national-preparedness-system

https://www.fema.gov/national-preparedness-goal

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Community lifelines provide a valuable decision-making construct to integrate cross-sector5 response
operations and reporting. Each lifeline depends on multiple infrastructure sectors, businesses, and
supply chains to function. Focusing on community lifelines allows emergency managers and their
partners to account for these complex interdependencies and prioritize response operations to achieve
high-impact, multi-sector benefits. The Framework describes how the resources and capabilities of the
Federal Government support such operations, while the new Emergency Support Function (ESF) #14
– Cross-Sector Business and Infrastructure Annex describes how it facilitates coordination and
collaboration with business and infrastructure owners and operators to provide assistance and integrate
the private sector’s support during response, particularly for those sectors not currently aligned to other
ESFs. Additional detail on the community lifelines can be found in the Prioritized Stabilization of
Community Lifelines section.

Finally, the Framework’s focus on community lifelines necessitates deeper collaboration with the
private sector and nongovernmental organizations (NGO). During the disasters of 2017 and 2018,
individual businesses and infrastructure owners and operators (including public and private sectors)
forged innovative, collaborative relationships with government agencies to help prioritize and
accelerate the stabilization of community lifeline services. The fourth edition of the NRF and ESF #14
– Cross-Sector Business and Infrastructure Annex institutionalize their progress and build upon it in
ways that respect the authorities, responsibilities, and roles of all public, private, and NGO partners
essential to incident response.

F r a m e w o r k P u r p o s e a n d O r g a n i z a t i o n
The NRF is a guide to how the Nation responds to all types of disasters and emergencies. The NRF is
built on scalable, flexible, and adaptable concepts identified in the National Incident Management
System (NIMS) to align key roles and responsibilities across the Nation. The NRF describes specific
authorities and best practices for managing incidents that range from the serious but purely local to
those that are catastrophic and national in scope.

Within the NRF, the term “response” includes actions to save lives, protect property and the
environment, stabilize the incident, and meet basic human needs following an incident. Response also
includes the execution of emergency plans and actions to enable recovery. The NRF describes doctrine
for managing all types of disasters or emergencies, regardless of scale, scope, and complexity. The
goals and objectives herein explain common response disciplines and processes that have been
developed at all levels of government (local, state, tribal, territorial, insular area,6 and federal) and have
matured over time.

To achieve the National Preparedness Goal, the objectives of the NRF are to do the following:

 Describe coordinating structures, as well as key roles and responsibilities for integrating
capabilities across the whole community, to support the efforts of governments, the private sector,
and NGOs in responding to actual and potential incidents;

 Describe how unity of effort among public and private sectors, as well as NGOs, supports the
stabilization of community lifelines and prioritized restoration of infrastructure during an incident

5 Cross-sector operations are those actions taken by public and private sector organizations from one or more of the
16 critical infrastructure sectors to help entities or facilities associated with other sectors respond to an incident,
focused on preventing or mitigating cascading failures between sectors and restoring critical supply chains. These
operations include measures taken by infrastructure owners and operators, businesses, and their government partners
to account for cross-sector interdependencies in incident response operations.
6 Per the Stafford Act, insular areas include Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa,
and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Other statutes or departments and agencies may define the term “insular area” differently.

http://www.fema.gov/national-incident-management-system

http://www.fema.gov/national-incident-management-system

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and enables recovery, including the elements that support economic security, such as restoration
of business operations and other commercial activities;

 Describe the steps needed to prepare for delivering the response core capabilities, including
capabilities brought through businesses and infrastructure owners and operators in an incident;

 Foster integration and coordination of activities for response actions; and
 Provide guidance through doctrine and establish the foundation for continued improvement of the

Response Federal Interagency Operational Plan (FIOP), its incident annexes, as well as
department and agency plans that implement the FIOP.

The NRF also advances progress under the National Security Strategy of the United States of America.
The Framework helps achieve the strategy’s first pillar: to “protect the American people, the homeland,
and the American way of life.” To accomplish this goal, the strategy calls for initiatives to strengthen
the Nation’s ability to withstand and recover rapidly from attacks and natural disasters. The NRF is
structured to help achieve these goals by establishing a new federal ESF coordinating structure to help
mitigate the impact of catastrophic incidents on community lifelines and account for the risk that
adversaries will seek to complicate and disrupt U.S. response operations.

The NRF is composed of a base document, ESF annexes, and support annexes. The annexes provide
detailed information to assist with the implementation of the NRF.

 ESF annexes describe the federal coordinating structures that group resources and capabilities into
functional areas most frequently needed in a national response.

 Support annexes describe other mechanisms by which support is organized among private sector,
NGO, and federal partners. The support annexes describe the essential supporting processes and
considerations common to most incidents. Content found within the support annexes is superseded
by changes and updates to legislation. The support annexes include the following:

− Financial management
− International coordination
− Public affairs
− Tribal relations
− Volunteer and donations management
− Worker safety and health

The Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources Support Annex and Private Sector Coordination Support
Annex, which supplemented previous versions of the NRF, have been superseded in this fourth edition
of the NRF by ESF #14 – Cross-Sector Business and Infrastructure Annex, which has been added as
part of this updated framework. All references to these support annexes within the ESF or support
annexes should be read as referring to the ESF #14 – Cross-Sector Business and Infrastructure.

S c o p e
The NRF is a framework for all types of threats and hazards, ranging from accidents, technological
hazards, natural disasters, and human-caused incidents. This Framework is utilized to implement
NIMS and describes whole community coordinating structures and response activities; in particular,
the Framework outlines government, private sector, and nongovernmental roles to reinforce

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf

https://www.fema.gov/national-preparedness-resource-library

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collaborative incident response.7 The NRF also describes the structure and mechanisms for national-
level policy and operational direction for incident management to ensure timely and effective federal
support to local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governmental activities and survivors. The
NRF is applicable to all federal, local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area departments and agencies
that participate in operations requiring a coordinated federal response.

NRF elements can be implemented at any time for any hazard, including the employment of ESF
mechanisms. The structures, roles, and responsibilities described herein can be partially or fully
implemented in the context of a threat or hazard, in anticipation of a significant event, or in response
to an incident. Implementation of NRF structures and procedures allows for a scaled response, delivery
of the specific resources and capabilities, and a level of coordination appropriate to each incident.

The response mission area includes the capabilities necessary to stabilize an incident, save lives, protect
property and the environment, meet basic human needs, restore community lifeline services and other
basic community functionality, and establish a safe and secure environment to facilitate the integration
of recovery activities.

In this fourth edition of the NRF, the thresholds for catastrophic incident response may vary depending
on one’s perspective. A localized flood can be catastrophic to an individual family who lost their home
and possessions, a severe tornado can be catastrophic to a town or city, and a hurricane can be
catastrophic to a state or territory. At the national level, a catastrophic incident8 is one of such extreme
and remarkable severity or magnitude that the Nation’s collective capability to manage all response
requirements would be overwhelmed, thereby posing potential threats to national security, national
economic security, and/or the public health and safety of the Nation. A national catastrophic incident
implies that the necessary resources are not available within expected timeframes for incident response.
During a national catastrophic incident, decision makers would be forced to consider the landscape of
requirements and prioritize resources to manage shortfalls rather than to address all needs at once. Such
a situation would also require the extraordinary means of mobilizing and prioritizing national resources
to alleviate human suffering; protect lives and property; reduce damage to natural, cultural, and historic
resources; stabilize the Nation’s economy; and ensure national security.

In this Framework, the term “incident” includes any occurrence, natural or manmade, that necessitates
a response to protect life or property and includes planned events, as well as emergencies or disasters
of all kinds and sizes. The NRF’s structures and procedures address how federal departments and
agencies coordinate support for local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments and how
government at all levels works in unity with private sector and NGOs.

Nothing in the NRF is intended to alter or impede the ability of a local, state, tribal, territorial, or insular
area government or Federal Government department or agency to carry out its authorities or meet its
responsibilities under applicable laws, Executive orders, and directives.

7 The NRF must be consistent with all pertinent statutes and policies, particularly those involving privacy and civil
and human rights, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Civil
Rights Act of 1964.
8 The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 defines the term “catastrophic incident” as “any
natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster that results in extraordinary levels of casualties or damage
or disruption severely affecting the population (including mass evacuations), infrastructure, environment, economy,
national morale, or government functions in an area.”

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I n t e n d e d A u d i e n c e
The NRF is intended to be used by communities; the private sector; NGOs; local, state, tribal,
territorial, and insular area governments; and the Federal Government, as well as other entities involved
in response. The private sector includes for-profit and nonprofit organizations, formal and informal
structures, commerce, and industries that comprise the national economy and are not part of a
government structure. NGOs are a distinct category of organizations within the private sector that can
include voluntary, ethnic, faith-based, veteran-based, disability,9 relief agency, and animal welfare
organizations, among others, and are referenced separately. This all-inclusive whole community
approach focuses efforts and enables a full range of stakeholders to participate in national preparedness
activities and to be full partners in incident response, including emergency management practitioners,
first responders, and community leaders.

Infrastructure owners and operators (in private and public sectors), and other elements of the private
sector, are especially important partners for incident response and a key audience for the Framework.
These partners are vital for strengthening the coordination between industry and government that is
necessary to stabilize community lifelines after major incidents or events. They are also crucial partners
for creating the plans and doctrine to support essential functions for cross-sector response operations,
especially where their ability to volunteer capabilities and expertise provides vital (and in some cases
irreplaceable) contributions to protecting public health and safety. Moreover, because catastrophic
incidents will create far more requests for emergency resources and types of government assistance
than can be immediately fulfilled, infrastructure owners and operators and other commercial interests
can help government agencies establish objective, nationwide criteria to help inform the allocation of
scarce resources to promote stabilization efforts, restore infrastructure, and to reduce morbidity and
mortality.

The fourth edition of the NRF describes how the whole community contributes to and benefits from
national preparedness and integrated incident response. This includes children;10 older adults;
individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs;11 those from religious, racial,
and ethnically diverse backgrounds; people with limited English proficiency; and owners of animals,
including household pets and service and assistance animals. Their individual contributions and needs
must be incorporated into response planning and delivery of the core capabilities. For further
information, see the Core Capabilities section.

G u i d i n g P r i n c i p l e s
The following principles establish fundamental doctrine for the response mission area to support
locally executed, state managed, and federally supported disaster operations: (1) engaged partnership;
(2) tiered response; (3) scalable, flexible, and adaptable operational capabilities; (4) unity of effort

9 An individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (an
“actual disability”) or a record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (“record
of”) or an actual or perceived impairment, whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life
activity that is not both transitory and minor (“regarded as”). Individuals with disabilities have civil rights protections
that may not be waived under any circumstances, including throughout emergencies and disasters.
10 Children require a unique set of considerations across the core capabilities contained within this document. Their
needs must be taken into consideration as part of any integrated planning effort.
11 Access and functional needs refer to persons who may have additional needs before, during, and after an incident
in functional areas, including but not limited to maintaining health, independence, communication, transportation,
support, services, self-determination, and medical care. Individuals in need of additional response assistance may
include those who have disabilities, live in institutionalized settings, are older adults, are children, are from diverse
cultures, have limited English proficiency or are non-English speaking, or are transportation disadvantaged.

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through unified command; and (5) readiness to act. These principles are rooted in the federal system
and the U.S. Constitution’s division of responsibilities between federal and state governments. These
principles reflect the history of emergency management and the distilled wisdom of responders and
leaders across the whole community.

Engaged Partnership
Local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments understand their needs best and play a
critical role in involving the whole community in preparing for and responding to disasters in order to
manage risk to communities and infrastructure.

Those who lead emergency response efforts must communicate and support engagement with the
whole community by developing shared goals and aligning capabilities to reduce the scope and
duration of impacts to any jurisdiction in times of crisis. Layered, mutually supporting capabilities of
individuals, communities, the private sector, NGOs, and governments at all levels allow for
coordinated planning in times of calm and effective response in times of crisis. Engaged partnership
and coalition building include ongoing clear, consistent, accessible, and culturally and linguistically
appropriate communication to ensure an appropriate response. 12

Partnership engagement entails continuous adaptation and improvements for incident preparedness and
continuity of operations against all types of threats and hazards. The spectrum of viable threats is
expanding. Most notably, cyber threats to the Nation’s critical infrastructure and the community
lifelines are intensifying. New challenges for incident response are also emerging. For example, in
conjunction with cyberattacks, adversaries may spread false disaster reporting via social media and
other means in order to incite panic and disrupt response operations. Thus, continuous engagement
establishing regular and clear communication between response partners is essential to ensuring that
accurate, accessible, and actionable information and situational awareness is made available in
response to these and other emerging threats.

Tiered Response
Most incidents begin and end locally and are managed and executed at the local or tribal level. Incidents
require a unified response from local agencies, the private sector, tribes, and NGOs. Some may require
additional support from neighboring jurisdictions or state governments. A smaller number of incidents
require federal support.13 Incidents that occur within or along the borders of federally managed lands
and state, tribal, and territorial lands require unity of effort among federal, state, tribal, or territorial
governments at the local level. National response processes are structured to provide tiered levels of
support when additional resources or capabilities are needed.

12 Information, warnings, and communications associated with emergency management must ensure effective
communication, such as through the use of appropriate auxiliary aids and services (e.g., interpreters, captioning, and
alternative format documents) for individuals with disabilities and provide meaningful access to limited English-
proficient individuals. Accessible messaging should be employed for individuals who use assistive technology and
employ non-technological means to reach those who do not have access to communication technology and those living
in remote areas.
13 Certain incidents such as a pandemic or cyberattack may not be limited to a specific geographic area and may be
managed at the local, state, tribal, territorial, insular area, or federal level, depending on the nature of the incident.

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When all levels of government become engaged, a response is federally supported, state managed, and
locally executed, with tribes, territories, and insular area governments often managing the response, as
well. The Federal Government’s support and response during disasters build on and are affected by the
capacity of state, tribal, territorial, insular, and local governments, as well as the business community
and NGOs. Preparedness efforts with partners at all levels increase the effectiveness of tiered response.

Scalable, Flexible, and Adaptable Operational Capabilities
As incidents change in size, scope, and complexity, response efforts must adapt to meet evolving
requirements. The number, type, and sources of resources must be able to expand rapidly to meet the
changing needs associated with a given incident and its cascading effects. As needs grow and change,
response processes must remain nimble, adaptable, and resilient. The structures and processes
described in the NRF must be able to apply resources from the whole community to support disaster
survivors and stabilize the community. As incidents stabilize, response efforts must be flexible to
facilitate the integration of recovery activities.

Unity of Effort Through Unified Command
The NIMS concept of unified command14 maximizes response efforts while integrating and respecting
the roles, responsibilities, and capabilities of all participating organizations. The Incident Command
System (ICS), as prescribed by NIMS, is important to ensuring interoperability across
multijurisdictional or multiagency incident management activities. Unified command enables unity of
effort when no single jurisdiction, agency, or organization has primary authority and/or the resources
to manage an incident on its own. The use of unified command enables jurisdictions and those with
authority or responsibility for the incident to jointly manage and direct incident activities through
establishment of common incident objectives, strategies, and a single incident action plan. ICS is used
by all levels of government, as well as by many NGOs and private sector organizations.

Readiness To Act
From individuals and communities to businesses, nonprofit, faith-based, and voluntary organizations
and all levels of government (local, state, tribal, territorial, insular area, and federal), national response
depends on the ability to act decisively. A forward-leaning posture is imperative for incidents that may
expand rapidly in size, scope, or complexity, as well as incidents that occur without warning. Decisive
action is often required to save lives and protect property and the environment. Although some risk to
responders may be unavoidable, all response personnel are responsible for anticipating and managing
risk through proper planning, organizing, equipping, training, and exercising.

14 The ICS “unified command” concept is distinct from the military use of this term. Concepts of “command” and
“unity of command” have distinct legal and cultural meanings for military forces and military operations. Military
forces always remain under the control of the military chain of command and are subject to redirection or recall at any
time. Military forces do not operate under the command of the incident commander or under the unified command
structure, but they do coordinate with response partners and work toward a unity of effort while maintaining their
internal chain of command.

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Prior to and during catastrophic incidents or a national security emergency15, especially those that
occur with little or no notice, the Federal Government may mobilize and deploy assets in anticipation
of a formal request from the state, tribe, territory, insular area, or under existing federal response
authorities. Proactive efforts are intended to ensure that federal resources reach the scene in time to assist
in reducing disruption of normal functions of local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments
and are done in coordination and collaboration with the governments, private sector entities, and NGOs,
when possible.

F o u n d a t i o n a l C o m p o n e n t s

P r i o r i t i z e d S t a b i l i z a t i o n o f C o m m u n i t y L i f e l i n e s
Stabilizing community lifelines is the primary effort during response to lessen threats and hazards to
public health and safety, the economy, and security. A community lifeline enables the continuous
operation of critical government and business functions and is essential to human health and safety or
economic security. Together, the community lifelines reframe incident information to provide decision
makers with root cause and impact analysis. This construct maximizes the effectiveness of federally
supported, state managed, and locally executed response. Figure 1 identifies the seven community
lifelines: Safety and Security; Food, Water, Shelter; Health and Medical; Energy (Power & Fuel);
Communications; Transportation; and Hazardous Material.

Figure 1: Community Lifelines for Incident Stabilization

The seven community lifelines represent only the most basic services a community relies on and which,
when stable, enable all other activity within a community. The lifelines are designed to enable
emergency managers, infrastructure owners and operators, and other partners to analyze the root cause
of an incident impact and then prioritize and deploy resources to effectively stabilize the lifeline. As
explained later in the NRF, ESFs deliver core capabilities to stabilize community lifelines for an
effective response. Similar to the ESFs, other whole community organizations can work together to
stabilize lifelines and meet disaster needs. The community lifelines do not directly cover all important
aspects of community life that can be affected by an incident, including impacts to natural, historical,
and cultural resources. For example, financial and economic issues important to the life and safety of
affected individuals may also arise indirectly from impacts to lifelines during an incident.

15 National security emergency means any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological
emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or threatens the national security of the United States, as
defined in Executive Order 12656.

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Example of Impacts on Financial Services After a Community Lifeline Disruption
A tornado has caused massive devastation in a rural town. Among the major impacts to
community lifelines is the community’s inability to access money.

 Power outages have kept several bank branches closed and automated teller
machines (ATM) inoperable, and merchants who are open despite the power outages
are only able to accept cash transactions.

 Some merchants, ATMs, and bank branches are already open and have been
energized through grid or generator power. However, communications outages
prevent them from accessing systems to process an electronic transaction.

 Transportation issues (road closures and blockages) limit survivors’ ability to travel to
the limited merchants, ATM locations, and bank branches in the area, as well as
responders’ ability to provide assets to stabilize critical infrastructure.

These cumulative effects, while incredibly disruptive to the community, are caused by a
confluence of impacts to specific lifelines. By using the community lifeline construct and
root cause analysis, emergency managers can assess that the major limiting factors
restricting community access to money are through the power, transportation, and
communications lifelines. Accordingly, a local emergency manager may alleviate the
situation by considering options, such as prioritized route clearance for emergency access
by power and communications crews, generators for temporary power, or deployment of
mobile cell towers, for establishing connectivity until other infrastructure is restored.

The community lifelines are composed of multiple components that encompass infrastructure, assets,
and services. Table 1 provides a brief description of each community lifeline but is not a comprehensive
list of all components that should be analyzed.

Table 1: Community Lifeline Descriptions
Community Lifeline Description

Safety and Security

• Law enforcement and government services, as well as the associated
assets that maintain communal security, provide search and rescue,
evacuations, and firefighting capabilities, and promote responder
safety.

Food, Water, Shelter

• Support systems that enable the sustainment of life, such as water
treatment, transmission, and distribution systems; food retail and
distribution networks; wastewater collection and treatment systems; as
well as sheltering, and agriculture.

Health and Medical
• Infrastructure and service providers for medical care, public health,

patient movement, fatality management, behavioral health, veterinary
support, and health or medical supply chains.

Energy

• Service providers for electric power infrastructure, composed of
generation, transmission, and distribution systems, as well as gas and
liquid fuel processing, transportation, and delivery systems. Disruptions
can have a limiting effect on the functionality of other community
lifelines.

Communications • Infrastructure owners and operators of broadband Internet, cellular
networks, landline telephony, cable services (to include undersea

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Community Lifeline Description
cable), satellite communications services, and broadcast networks
(radio and television). Communication systems encompass a large set
of diverse modes of delivery and technologies, often intertwined but
largely operating independently. Services include elements such as
alerts, warnings, and messages, as well as 911 and dispatch. Also
includes accessibility of financial services.

Transportation

• Multiple modes of transportation that often serve complementary
functions and create redundancy, adding to the inherent resilience in
overall transportation networks. Transportation infrastructure generally
includes highway/roadways, mass transit, railway, aviation, maritime,
pipeline, and intermodal systems.

Hazardous Material

• Systems that mitigate threats to public health/welfare and the
environment. This includes assessment of facilities that use, generate,
and store hazardous substances, as well as specialized conveyance
assets and efforts to identify, contain, and remove incident debris,
pollution, contaminants, oil or other hazardous substances.

As described in Table 1, community lifelines rely on multiple government entities, businesses, and
infrastructure sectors to function. As a result, response operations to stabilize a lifeline are unlikely to
fit within a single department, agency, ESF, infrastructure sector, or industry. Moreover, because these
sectors and the community lifelines they support are interdependent, failures in one will cascade across
to others.

Accounting for these interdependencies and their associated requirements for cross-sector assistance
they entail poses overarching challenges in building preparedness for complex incidents. The
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the sector-specific agencies, has
identified National Critical Functions16 that enable the Federal Government, in partnership with
infrastructure owners and operators, to improve the risk management process before and after an
incident and can support community lifeline assessments and stabilization efforts.

Community lifelines can be used by all levels of government, the private sector, and other partners to
facilitate operational coordination and drive outcome-based response. Figure 2 shows how community
lifelines are applied to support decision-making.

Figure 2: The Application of Community Lifelines to Support Emergency Management

16 National Critical Functions are the functions of government and the private sector so vital to the United States that
their disruption, corruption, or dysfunction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security,
national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.

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After an incident, initial assessments of the community lifelines (i.e., whether they are impacted and
to what extent) help establish incident priorities and objectives that drive response actions.
Continuously reassessing the status of community lifelines enables decision-makers to adjust
operations in ways that can accelerate incident stabilization.

Using the community lifelines enables emergency managers and decision makers at all levels (e.g.,
business and infrastructure owners and operators, economic development agencies, comptrollers,
public health officials, and healthcare providers) to understand and assess impacts on a community,
identify limiting factors, and quickly develop solutions following an incident. Decision makers must
rapidly determine the scope, complexity, and interdependent impacts of a disaster, so applying the
community lifeline construct will allow them to do the following:

 Prioritize, sequence, and focus response efforts toward maintaining or restoring the most critical
services and infrastructure;

 Utilize a common lexicon to facilitate communication across various stakeholders;
 Promote a response that facilitates unity of effort among the whole community (e.g., Federal

Government; state, tribal, territorial, insular area, and local governments; and private sector and
nongovernmental entities); and

 Clarify which components of the disaster are complex (emergent) and/or complicated (difficult),
requiring cross-sector coordination.

Response activities organized around the community lifelines allow local, state, tribal, territorial,
insular, and Federal Government emergency managers, along with private sector and nongovernmental
partners, to better align, sequence, and prioritize limited public and private sector resources. The intent
is to efficiently stabilize the incident by anticipating, resourcing, and managing immediate threats to
life and property and to set the conditions for longer-term infrastructure restoration and economic and
community recovery. Community lifeline stabilization is not the end state in itself for incident response
and recovery, but a construct to achieve efficacy and efficiency throughout the disaster response phase.

N a t i o n a l I n c i d e n t M a n a g e m e n t S y s t e m
The purpose of NIMS is to provide a common approach to managing incidents. NIMS concepts provide
for standardized but flexible incident management and support practices that emphasize common
principles, a consistent approach for operational structures and supporting mechanisms, and an
integrated approach to resource management. The response protocols and structures described in the
NRF align with NIMS. NIMS provides the template for the management of incidents, regardless of
size, scope, cause, or complexity, while the NRF provides the structure and mechanisms for policy
implementation and incident response. Standardizing national response doctrine on NIMS integrates
the capabilities and resources of various governmental jurisdictions, incident management and
emergency response disciplines, NGOs, and the private sector into a cohesive, coordinated, and
seamless national framework for incident response.

All of the components of NIMS—resource management, command and coordination, and
communications and information management—support response. The NIMS concept of unified
command is described in the command and coordination component of NIMS. This concept is essential
to effective response operations because it addresses the importance of (1) developing a single set of
objectives; (2) using a collective, strategic approach; (3) improving information flow and coordination;
(4) creating a common understanding of joint priorities and limitations; (5) ensuring that no agency’s
legal authorities are compromised or neglected; and (6) optimizing the combined efforts of all
participants under a single plan.

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Mutual Aid
Communities apply NIMS principles to integrate response plans and resources across jurisdictions,
departments, the private sector, and NGOs. Various public and private mutual aid systems can be
leveraged. Neighboring communities or organizations play a key role by providing support through a
network of mutual aid and assistance agreements that identify the resources that communities may
share during an incident. Additionally, private sector organizations often establish mutual aid
agreements with each other to increase capabilities and expedite their response.

The ability to provide mutual aid accurately and rapidly is critical during disasters, but mutual aid
partners require a common language and process to support the sharing of qualified personnel. The
National Qualification System (NQS) addresses this challenge by providing a common language and
approach for qualifying, certifying, and credentialing incident management and support personnel.
NQS provides the tools for jurisdictions and organizations to share resources seamlessly. Using the
NQS approach helps to ensure personnel deploying through mutual aid agreements and compacts have
the required capabilities to perform their assigned duties.17

C o r e C a p a b i l i t i e s
Each mission area—prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery—identifies core
capabilities required to address common threats and hazards. Using the core capabilities construct
enables communities and organizations to focus on specific preparedness measures necessary to ensure
that the capabilities are available when needed. By allowing communities and organizations to quantify
response requirements and measure response capacity, core capabilities are the key performance
management tool in emergency preparedness.18

The National Preparedness Goal describes the core capabilities necessary to be prepared for all threats
and hazards. The core capabilities provide a common vocabulary describing the significant functions
that must be maintained and executed across the whole community to achieve the goal of a “secure
and resilient nation.”

Prevention: Avoiding, preventing, or stopping a threatened or actual act of terrorism.
Within the context of national preparedness, the term “prevention” refers to dealing with
imminent threats.

Protection: Securing the homeland against acts of terrorism and human-caused or natural
disasters.

Mitigation: Reducing loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.
Response: Saving lives, stabilizing community lifelines, protecting property and the
environment, and meeting basic human needs after an incident has occurred.

Recovery: Assisting impacted communities with restoration and revitalization.

The response core capabilities are the activities that generally must be accomplished in incident
response, regardless of which levels of government are involved. While core capabilities are organized
by mission area, they do not operate exclusively within that mission area. Actions related to one core
capability often can inform actions associated with another.

17 For more information on NQS, see https://www.fema.gov/national-qualification-system; for more information on
NQS typing tools, see https://rtlt.preptoolkit.fema.gov/Public/Combined.
18 For a full list of the core capabilities, see https://www.fema.gov/core-capabilities.

https://www.fema.gov/national-qualification-system

https://rtlt.preptoolkit.fema.gov/Public/Combined

https://www.fema.gov/core-capabilities

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Community Lifeline Stabilization and the Core Capabilities
Core capabilities are used to organize, analyze, and build the functions and services needed in response.
The core capabilities developed during the preparedness cycle are applied throughout response to
stabilize community lifelines and enable recovery.

By engaging the whole community to build and deliver the response core capabilities, the Nation is
better prepared to respond to a threat or hazard; to assist in restoring basic services, community
functionality, and economic activity; and to facilitate the integration of recovery activities. Table 2
shows how response core capabilities may relate to the community lifelines.

Table 2: Examples of a Steady-State Relationship Between Community Lifelines and Response
Core Capabilities

Community Lifeline* Related Response Core Capabilities**

Safety and Security

• On-scene Security, Protection, and Law Enforcement
• Fire Management and Suppression
• Mass Search and Rescue Operations
• Public Health, Healthcare, and Emergency Medical
Services
• Environmental Response/Health and Safety

Infrastructure S
ystem

s

S
ituational A

ssessm
ent

O
perational C

oordination

P
ublic Inform

ation and W
arning

P
lanning

Food, Water, Shelter
• Mass Care Services
• Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Health and Medical

• Public Health, Healthcare, and Emergency Medical
Services
• Fatality Management Services
• Environmental Response/Health and Safety
• Logistics and Supply Chain Management
• Mass Care Services

Energy (Power &
Fuel)

• Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Communications • Operational Communications • Public Information and Warning

Transportation • Critical Transportation

Hazardous Material • Environmental Response/Health and Safety
* Community Lifelines: How emergency managers assess and prioritize employment of capabilities for
stabilization.
** Core Capabilities: An interoperable means to characterize capabilities that may be assessed, built, or validated
during preparedness or applied to response operations.

Integration Among Mission Areas
Potential points of intersection between the response mission area and other mission areas include the
following:

Prevention. Response organizations coordinate with those responsible for preventing imminent acts
of terrorism or an attack (e.g., a significant cyber incident causing cascading and/or physical impacts)
to understand both potential and specific threats and to prepare accordingly by creating plans for
general threats and crisis action plans for credible threats.

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 When an incident may have been caused by an intentional act, response organizations coordinate
closely with law enforcement agencies to attribute the cause and prevent additional follow-on
instances.

 Response agencies coordinate with law enforcement agencies to enable themselves to prepare,
train, stage, and plan for the delivery of consequence management capabilities.

 Response agencies must coordinate with the owners of properties impacted by a particular incident
who have the first responsibility for prevention, protection, and response.

Protection. Protection of critical infrastructure systems and implementation of plans for the rapid
restoration of commercial activities and critical infrastructure operations are crucial aspects of the
protection mission area. Many of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors19 within the protection mission
area are also represented in the response mission area. The existing infrastructure plans and
coordination mechanisms (e.g., sector-specific agencies and councils) provide strong foundations for
strengthening incident response plans and capabilities. As part of the National Infrastructure Protection
Plan, public and private sector partners in each of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors and agencies at
all levels of government have developed and maintain sector-specific plans that focus on the unique
operating conditions and risk landscape within that sector.

 Response agencies should utilize the sector coordination constructs (e.g., sector-specific agencies
or sector coordinating councils) to elicit advice and recommendations regarding systemic
vulnerabilities, cross-sector interdependencies, and sector-level challenges that could hinder
restoration.

 Impacts to infrastructure may result in the need for consequence management (e.g., cyberattacks).
Mitigation. Effective mitigation efforts directly limit the impact of an emergency, disaster, or attack
on community lifelines and systems, thereby reducing the required scale of response capabilities
needed for an incident. The National Mitigation Investment Strategy recommends actions for all
national stakeholders involved in disaster resilience to reduce risks to and impacts on lifelines,
buildings, infrastructure, ecosystems, and cultural, historic, and natural resources. Planning, response,
and regulatory organizations coordinate to reduce risks to critical infrastructure by evaluating potential
threats, encouraging resiliency in infrastructure, and planning for redundancy in services. These
organizations often have information and the data about hazards and risks that can be shared with
response personnel to improve response planning and execution.

 Response operations should leverage those organizations with relevant risk management equities
to ascertain threats and hazards, understand vulnerabilities, and predict lifeline and survivor
impacts or needs to enable more expedient response operations.

 Opportunities to lessen the risks of future hazards are an important element to building national
resilience.

Recovery. As response activities are underway, recovery operations must begin. Applying the
community lifelines construct enables response officials to more effectively identify the requirements
and sequence steps in the recovery process, including activities that support the economy, by focusing
them on vital areas of community support. This includes providing essential public health and safety
services; restoring interrupted utility and other essential services; reestablishing transportation routes
and other infrastructure (e.g., agriculture), providing food, water, and shelter for those displaced by an
incident; protecting natural and cultural resources and ensuring environmental compliance; ensuring

19 The critical infrastructure sectors are described in the 2013 National Infrastructure Protection Plan,
https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/national-infrastructure-protection-plan-2013-508.pdf.

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1565706308412-19739d7deeca639415cc76c681cee531/NationalMitigationInvestmentStrategy.pdf

https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/national-infrastructure-protection-plan-2013-508.pdf

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equal access to services in accordance with applicable laws; reunifying children, adults, and household
pets who have been separated from their families/guardians; and reopening schools and child care
centers.

 Response organizations are responsible for setting the conditions that foster a quick and seamless
integration of recovery operations and establish conditions that enable a community’s recovery.

 Effective recovery support also depends on successful information sharing between the ESFs and
the six Recovery Support Functions (RSF) under the National Disaster Recovery Framework
(NDRF).

 Recovery programs—including sheltering and housing, volunteer organization coordination,
donations management, small business and agriculture assistance or loans, as well as other disaster
assistance—often support response and recovery objectives.

These overlapping areas are identified through comprehensive planning with the whole community to
ensure they are properly addressed during the response to an incident. Ensuring that operational plans
properly account for the integration of all mission areas is essential.

O p e r a t i o n a l C o o r d i n a t i o n
Incident management begins and ends locally, and most incidents are managed or executed at the
closest possible geographical, organizational, and jurisdictional levels. Successful incident
management often depends on the cooperation of multiple jurisdictions, levels of government,
functional agencies, NGOs and emergency responder disciplines, and the private sector, which requires
effective coordination across a broad spectrum of activities and organizations. Accordingly, the
optimal disaster response follows the model of being locally executed; state, tribal, territorial, or insular
area managed; and federally supported with private sector and NGO engagement throughout.

Operational coordination occurs across all of these levels and consists of actions and activities that
enable decision makers to determine appropriate courses of action and provide oversight for all types
of incidents, including complex homeland security operations, to achieve unity of effort and effective
outcomes.

P r i v a t e S e c t o r E n g a g e m e n t
Public sector government resources alone cannot provide all the solutions when responding to
incidents. Acting within regulatory and authoritative guidelines, government entities and the private
sector can provide mutually beneficial incident-specific response support. When government, private
sector, and NGO resources are mutually supportive and aligned, there is a much better chance of
meeting communities’ incident and economic recovery needs. All elements of the community should
be activated, engaged, and integrated to respond to a major or catastrophic incident. This all-inclusive
approach helps expand and expedite the availability of resources, capabilities, and solution sets for
incident response. When severe incidents disrupt community lifelines, private sector and NGO
capabilities can assist with stabilizing lifelines and restoring services. Similar to public sector mutual
aid and support agreements, it is essential that government and private sector organizations engage in
collaboration before an incident to effectively partner during incident response.

Businesses and infrastructure owners and operators have primary responsibility for operating and
repairing their systems in emergencies. Businesses and infrastructure owners and operators also have
unique expertise and capabilities to conduct restoration operations of their own systems, execute
voluntary mutual assistance operations within their sectors, and provide valuable resources for cross-

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sector support. When catastrophic incidents put a premium on the restoration of complex supply chains
(especially for essential products and services needed for response efforts and stabilizing the economy),
private sector coordination and assets are vital for public health and safety, the economy, and national
security. The private sector can also help government agencies prioritize support missions (e.g., debris
removal) to facilitate business and infrastructure response operations.

In coordination with local governments, private sector organizations have a critical role in re-
establishing commercial activities and restoring critical infrastructure operations the community
requires following a disruption. The resilience of private sector organizations directly affects
community recovery by providing products and services, employment opportunities, other resources
and re-establishing a functioning economy. In many cases, private sector organizations also have
immediate access to commodities and services that support incident response.

Governmental response organizations should coordinate closely with private sector partners to do the
following:

 Assess cross-sector interdependencies and obstacles to meeting survivor needs;
 Identify opportunities to enable or support prompt stabilization of community lifelines;
 Identify where government support is appropriate and available; and
 Identify opportunities to synchronize response operations with private sector efforts to ensure the

most effective approach to reach as many survivors as possible.

Private Sector Coordinating Structures
Coordinating structures for the private sector include business emergency operations centers (BEOC),
industry trade groups and coordinating councils, information sharing and analysis centers, private
sector information and intelligence centers, and other structural entities, such as healthcare coalitions.
These organizations, composed of multiple businesses and entities brought together by shared
geography or common function (e.g., banking, supply chain management, transportation, venue, and
management), support the collaboration, communication, and sharing of information within the private
sector. Such organizations can coordinate with and support NGOs and, in many cases, serve as a
conduit to government coordinating structures. Strengthening the relationship between private sector
and government coordinating structures enhances information sharing and operational response.

L o c a l l y E x e c u t e d R e s p o n s e
During a disaster, those closest to the impacted areas—individuals, families, neighbors, businesses,
and emergency responders comprising the community—are the first ones active in response. Local
partners know their community’s needs, capabilities, and resources best and are positioned to have the
most effective impact in the aftermath of an incident. Locally executed response focuses on how the
complex network of local, voluntary, and private sector organizations integrate their capabilities to
restore damaged infrastructure, restart the flow of products and services, and place essential items into
the hands of survivors. Local governments and communities, therefore, provide the true operational
coordination for executing an effective response and can draw on the support of additional state and
federal resources when their own resources prove insufficient.

Emergency responders at all levels of government use NIMS and ICS command and coordinating
structures to manage and support response operations (Figure 3). ICS is a management system designed
to integrate on-scene facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications within a
common organizational structure. Emergency operations centers (EOC) are facilities where staff

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coordinate information and resources to support on-scene incident management. Staff in EOCs at all
levels of government may also encourage participation by the private sector, including NGOs,
academia, associations, and access and functional needs community organizations. Staff in EOCs at
all levels of government may also encourage participation by private sector elements including NGOs,
academia, associations, and organizations representing those with disabilities and others with access
and functional needs.

At the local level, coordinating structures are usually composed of entities within specific functional
areas, such as public works, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and fire departments. On-
scene integration among these structures may occur at incident command posts (ICP) and more
frequently at one or more local EOCs.

Figure 3: Example of an ICS organization with a Single Incident Commander20

Incident management may also involve Multiagency Coordination Groups (MAC Groups). A MAC
Group is composed of senior officials, such as agency administrators, executives, or their designees,
who are authorized to represent or commit agency resources and funds in support of incident activities.
A MAC Group acts as an executive- or policy-level body during incidents, supporting resource
prioritization and allocation, and enabling decision making among elected and appointed officials and
those responsible for managing the incident (i.e., the incident commander). In some communities and
jurisdictions, MAC Groups are located at or near EOCs in order to authorize additional resources,
approve emergency authorities, and provide guidance on issues.

Local Coordinating Structures
Local jurisdictions and states employ a variety of coordinating structures to help identify risks,
establish relationships, and organize and build capabilities. Due to the unique partnerships, geographic
conditions, threats, and capabilities, the coordinating structures vary. Examples of local response

20 For more information on NIMS and ICS, see https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1508151197225-
ced8c60378c3936adb92c1a3ee6f6564/FINAL_NIMS_2017.pdf.

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1508151197225-ced8c60378c3936adb92c1a3ee6f6564/FINAL_NIMS_2017.pdf

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1508151197225-ced8c60378c3936adb92c1a3ee6f6564/FINAL_NIMS_2017.pdf

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coordinating structures include local planning committees, healthcare coalitions,21 Community
Emergency Response Teams (CERT), and chapters of national-level associations. These local and
regional coordinating structures organize and integrate their capabilities and resources with
neighboring jurisdictions, the state, the private sector, and NGOs.

S t a t e , T r i b a l , T e r r i t o r i a l , a n d I n s u l a r A r e a M a n a g e d R e s p o n s e
State governments serve as agents for local jurisdictions by managing the delivery of federal disaster
assistance to meet local requirements. While the local incident command structure directs on-scene
incident management activities and maintains command and control of on-scene incident operations,
state EOCs are activated as necessary to support local EOCs and to help ensure that responders have
the resources they need to conduct response activities. This is achieved through integration of state-
level coordinating structures working with local coordinating structures or the local incident command
structure.

State, tribal, territorial, and insular area EOCs also provide a common location for coordination of
state/tribal/territorial/insular area—and in some cases, federal—support to local EOCs and/or incident
personnel. Most states, tribal organizations, territories, and insular areas maintain an EOC to manage
incidents requiring state-level assistance. Some of these governments have additional EOCs for
coordinating information and resources within a region or area.

Many states involve their tribal counterparts within the EOC to ensure that tribal coordinating
structures are integrated into the delivery of capabilities and tribal needs are addressed.

State, Territorial, and Insular Area Coordinating Structures
States, territories, and insular areas also leverage the capabilities and resources of partners across the
state/territory/insular area when identifying needs and building capabilities. The coordinating
structures at the state, territorial, or insular area level also vary, depending on factors such as
geography, population, industry, and the capabilities of the local jurisdictions. These structures are also
designed to leverage appropriate representatives from across the whole community, some of whom
may also participate in local or regional coordinating structures. Many states, territories, and insular
areas create independent committees or councils focused on specific areas or functions as a sub-set of
their emergency management agency.

Tribal Managed Response
The United States has a trust responsibility with federally recognized Indian tribes and recognizes their
right to self-government. This trust doctrine requires the Federal Government to protect tribal treaty
rights, lands, assets, and resources while providing support through statutory authority and other
programs. Under the Stafford Act, federally recognized Indian tribes may directly request their own
emergency and major declaration or they may request assistance under a state request. In addition,
federally recognized Indian tribes can request federal assistance for incidents that impact the tribe but
do not result in a Stafford Act declaration. Given their unique position, tribal governments often have
planning and response requirements that are the equivalent of state and local operational coordination
during an incident.

21 Healthcare coalitions are multi-agency coordination groups that integrate member organizations with the
jurisdictional agency(s) in the geographic area in which they operate. Healthcare coalitions are invaluable as public-
private partnerships integrating healthcare facilities with emergency medical services, public health, and emergency
management.

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Tribal Coordinating Structures
Tribal coordinating structures vary depending on a variety of factors, such as individual tribal
capabilities, population size, and economic circumstances. Tribes may have internal coordinating
structures and facilities for incident response, as well as others that include bordering states and
neighboring jurisdictions.

The Tribal Assistance Coordination Group (TAC-G) is a MAC Group that assists federally recognized
tribes during emergencies and disasters and provides information and technical assistance for tribal
emergency management programs in coordination with federal partners. The TAC-G is led and
managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Emergency Management Program. The TAC-G consists of
partners from all levels of government (local, state, tribal, territorial, insular, or federal), as well as
nonprofit aid organizations and the private sector.

F e d e r a l l y S u p p o r t e d R e s p o n s e
Federal support during response operations focuses on the capabilities necessary to save lives; protect
property and the environment; meet basic human needs; prioritize operations to stabilize community
lifelines and restore basic services and community functionality; establish a safe, secure, and accessible
environment for responders and response operations; and support the transition to recovery. The
desired end-state for federal incident response is achieved when local, state, tribal, territorial, and
insular area entities no longer require Federal Government assistance to provide life-saving or life-
sustaining support, thereby allowing for the transition to recovery.

When an incident occurs that exceeds or is anticipated to exceed local, state, tribal, territorial, or insular
area resources or when an incident is managed by federal departments or agencies acting under their
own authorities, the Federal Government may use the management structures described within the
NRF. Additionally, the Federal Government may use supplementary or complementary plans to
involve all necessary department and agency resources to organize the federal response and ensure
coordination among all response partners.

Different federal departments and agencies may play significant roles in response activities, depending
on the nature and size of an incident. Many of the arrangements by which departments and agencies
participate are defined in the ESF annexes coordinated through pre-scripted mission assignments in a
Stafford Act response, formalized in interagency agreements, or described in supplementary plans.

The following sections describe federal support operations at the incident, regional, and headquarters
levels.

Federal Incident-level Operations
To help deliver federal support or response at the incident level, coordinating structures are aligned to
incident-level structures.

Unified Coordination
Unified coordination is the term used to describe the primary state/tribal/territorial/insular area/federal
incident management activities conducted at the incident level. Unified coordination is typically
directed from a Joint Field Office (JFO), a temporary federal facility that provides a central location
for coordination of response efforts by the private sector, NGOs, and all levels of government. Unified
coordination is organized, staffed, and managed in a manner consistent with NIMS principles using an
ICS structure. The Unified Coordination Group (UCG) is composed of senior leaders representing
state, tribal, territorial, insular area and federal interests and, in certain circumstances, local

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20

jurisdictions, the private sector, and NGOs. UCG members must have significant jurisdictional
responsibility and authority. The composition of the UCG varies from incident to incident, depending
on the scope and nature of the disaster. The UCG leads the unified coordination staff. Personnel from
state, tribal, territorial, insular area, and federal departments and agencies; other jurisdictional entities;
the private sector; and NGOs may be assigned to the unified coordination staff at various incident
facilities (e.g., JFOs, staging areas, and other field offices). The UCG determines staffing of the unified
coordination staff based on incident requirements.

Although unified coordination is based on the ICS structure, it does not manage on-scene operations.
Instead, unified coordination supports on-scene response efforts and conducts broader support
operations that may extend beyond the incident site. Unified coordination must include robust
operations, planning, public information, and logistics capabilities that integrate local, state, and
federal—as well as tribal, territorial, and insular area governments—personnel, when appropriate, so
that all levels of government work together to achieve unity of effort.

When incidents affect multiple localities and states or the entire Nation, multiple UCGs with associated
unified coordination staff may be established. In these situations, coordination occurs according to the
principles of area command, as described in NIMS.

As the primary field entity for federal response, unified coordination integrates diverse federal
authorities and capabilities and coordinates federal response and recovery operations. Figure 4 shows
a unified coordination organization that might be assembled to deal with a major incident—such as a
terrorist attack—that includes a law enforcement dimension. Federal agencies that conduct on-scene,
tactical-level activities may also establish incident and area command structures, generally in
conjunction with their counterpart local, state, tribal, territorial and/or insular area government
agencies, to manage that work.

Figure 4: Unified Coordination

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Emergency Support Functions as a Coordinating Structure
ESFs are the primary, but not exclusive, response coordinating structures at the federal level.
Communities, states, regions, and other tribal, territorial, insular area, and federal departments and
agencies may use the ESF construct, or they may employ other coordinating structures or partners
appropriate to their location, threats, or authorities. Whatever structures are used, they are encouraged
to work closely with federal ESFs at the incident, regional, or headquarters levels if they are activated.

The Federal Government and many state governments organize their response resources and
capabilities under the ESF construct. Each ESF is composed of a department or agency that has been
designated as the ESF coordinator, along with a number of primary and support agencies. Primary
agencies are designated on the basis of their authorities, resources, and capabilities. Support agencies
are assigned based on resources or capabilities in a given functional area. To the extent possible,
resources provided by the ESFs are identified consistently with NIMS resource typing categories.

ESFs have proven to be an effective way to organize and manage resources to deliver core capabilities.
The federal ESFs are the primary, but not exclusive, federal coordinating structures for building,
sustaining, and delivering the response core capabilities.

At the federal level, ESFs are groups of organizations that work together to deliver core capabilities to
stabilize community lifelines in support of an effective response. Any ESF may assist in the delivery
of a response core capability. Because a core capability may be required, each ESF can contribute to
the stabilization of any of the community lifelines, depending on the circumstances of the incident.
Table 3 provides an example of actions each ESF may take to support incident issues arising within
the health and medical lifeline; these actions may impact more than one of the other community
lifelines.

Table 3: Example Actions That an ESF May Take in Support of Stabilizing the Health and Medical
Lifeline During Incident Response Operations

ESF Example Supporting Actions or Capabilities

ESF #1 Transportation
Coordinate the opening of roads and manage aviation airspace for
access to health and medical facilities or services.

ESF #2 Communications
Provide and enable contingency communications required at health and
medical facilities.

ESF #3 Public Works &
Engineering

Install generators and provide other temporary emergency power
sources for health and medical facilities.

ESF #4 Firefighting
Coordinates federal firefighting activities and supports resource
requests for public health and medical facilities and teams.

ESF #5 Information &
Planning

Develop coordinated interagency crisis action plans addressing health
and medical issues.

ESF #6 Mass Care,
Emergency Assistance,
Temporary Housing, &
Human Assistance

Integrate voluntary agency and other partner support, including other
federal agencies and the private sector, to resource health and medical
services and supplies.

ESF #7 Logistics
Provide logistics support for moving meals, water, or other
commodities.

ESF #8 Public Health &
Medical Services

Provide health and medical support to communities, and coordinate
across capabilities of partner agencies.

ESF #9 Search & Rescue Conduct initial health and medical needs assessments.

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ESF Example Supporting Actions or Capabilities
ESF #10 Oil & Hazardous
Materials Response

Monitor air quality near health and medical facilities in close proximity to
the incident area.

ESF #11 Agriculture &
Natural Resources

Coordinate with health and medical entities to address incidents of
zoonotic disease.

ESF #12 Energy
Coordinate power restoration efforts for health and medical facilities or
power-dependent medical populations.

ESF #13 Public Safety &
Security

Provide public safety needed security at health and medical facilities or
mobile teams delivering services.

ESF #14 Cross-Sector
Business and Infrastructure

Be informed of and assess cascading impacts of health or medical
infrastructure or service disruptions, and deconflict or prioritize cross-
sector requirements.

ESF #15 External Affairs
Conduct public messaging on the status of available health and medical
services or public health risks.

Additional detail on the scope of each ESF can be found in the Emergency Support Function Roles and
Responsibilities section.

As previously noted, many local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area jurisdictions have adopted
and tailored the ESF construct. Because these jurisdictions established ESFs based on their specific
risks and requirements, there is no mandatory or direct linkage to the federal ESFs. Governments are
encouraged to engage members of the whole community as part of whatever coordinating processes
they use.

Departments and agencies supporting federal ESFs may be selectively activated by FEMA or as
requested by a lead federal agency to support response activities for incidents. Not all incidents
requiring federal support result in the activation of ESFs.

When departments and agencies supporting federal ESFs are activated, they may assign staff at
headquarters, regional, and incident levels. Through the Stafford Act and in accordance with 6 U.S.C.
Sections 741(4) and 753(c), FEMA may issue mission assignments to obtain resources and services
from federal departments and agencies.

Incidents Without a Stafford Act Declaration
Most incidents where the NRF serves as the foundational federal response doctrine will not result in a
federally declared disaster under the Stafford Act. For example, pre-incident operations for hurricanes,
responses to biological incidents, electric grid emergencies, oil spills, migration crises, public health
emergencies, and a host of other threats and hazards may not receive a Presidential disaster declaration
but still require a coordinated national response.

For such non-Stafford Act incidents where the Federal Government is involved, the President may
designate or the federal agencies involved may agree to recognize an agency to serve as the Lead
Federal Agency (LFA) for the response. The LFA typically activates the response structures
appropriate to its authorities. The LFA employs NIMS and this Framework to coordinate the federal
response. Details regarding federal operations for non-Stafford incidents are contained within the
relevant statutes and policies. Because the NRF is always in effect, ESFs may be activated and
deployed to help manage any response in support of the LFA.

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Federal Regional Operational Support
Coordinating structures can be assembled and organized at the regional level to address incidents that
cross state or international borders or have broad geographic or system-wide implications or to manage
competing requirements for response assets among multiple incidents.

Federal Regional Facilities
Most federal departments and agencies have regional or field offices that may participate with local,
state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments in planning for incidents and provide response
assets when an incident occurs in their jurisdiction. Some federal departments and agencies share the
same standard federal regional structure as FEMA. In larger-scale incidents, these regional and field
offices may provide the initial response assets with additional support being provided from other
department and agency offices across the Nation. Some federal regional and field offices have their
own EOCs to support deployments of their assets.

 FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC). FEMA has 10 regional offices, each
headed by a Regional Administrator. Each of FEMA’s regional offices maintains an RRCC. When
activated, RRCCs are multi-agency coordination centers generally staffed by regional FEMA
personnel and augmented by ESFs and other federal agencies in anticipation of or immediately
following an incident. Operating under the direction of the FEMA Regional Administrator, the
staff within the RRCCs coordinates federal regional response efforts and maintains connectivity
with FEMA Headquarters and with state EOCs, state and major urban area fusion centers, Federal
Executive Boards, tribal governments, and other federal, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area
operations and coordination centers that potentially contribute to the development of situational
awareness. The UCG assumes responsibility for coordinating federal response activities at the
incident level once unified coordination is established, freeing the RRCC to deal with new
incidents should they occur.

 Joint Operations Center (JOC). In response to significant threats within the criminal jurisdiction
of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may establish a JOC, which is a
regional multi-jurisdictional, interagency operations center to lead and coordinate the operational
law enforcement response, including but not limited to investigative operations and related
intelligence activities. The JOC is led by an FBI on-scene commander (OSC) and is supported by
a command group and a consequence management group, as appropriate. If the threat involves
potential attacks or threats spanning multiple geographic areas, then multiple JOCs may be
established. The JOC acts as the focal point for the strategic management and direction of on scene
law enforcement activities and coordination with local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area
authorities. Additionally, the FBI OSC may be supported by the Domestic Emergency Support
Team (if deployed), which may provide interagency technical or scientific expertise.

Federal Headquarters Operational Support
Coordinating structures are assembled and organized at the federal headquarters level, particularly to
address incidents that cross regional borders or have broad geographic or system-wide implications.

Federal Operations Centers
Most Cabinet-level and some other federal departments and agencies have headquarters-level
operations centers. A wide range of such centers maintain situational awareness within their functional

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areas and provide relevant information to the DHS National Operations Center (NOC)22 during an
incident. These operations centers may also coordinate ESF activities, communicate with other federal
operations centers, and communicate with their local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area
government counterparts. Examples of FOCs include the following:

 National Operations Center. In the event of an act of terrorism, natural disaster, or other
emergency, the NOC, as the principal operations center for DHS, coordinates and integrates
information from the NOC components to provide situational awareness and a common operating
picture for the entire Federal Government, as well as for local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular
area governments, as appropriate, to ensure that accurate and critical terrorism and disaster-related
information reaches government decision makers in a timely manner. Additionally, the NOC serves
as the national fusion center, collecting and synthesizing all-source information, including
information from state and major urban area fusion centers, for all threats and hazards across the
entire integrated National Preparedness System.

 National Response Coordination Center. When activated, the NRCC is a multiagency
coordination center located at FEMA Headquarters. NRCC’s staff coordinates the overall federal
support for major disasters and emergencies, including catastrophic incidents and emergency
management program implementation. FEMA maintains the NRCC as a functional component of
the NOC for incident support operations.

The National Business Emergency Operations Center is a FEMA component within the
NRCC that acts as mechanism for information sharing between public and private sector
stakeholders. The NRCC also includes the public affairs function of ESF #15, which acts
as a mechanism to synchronize external messaging among all impacted and responding
organizations.

 Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Integrated Operations
Coordination Center (CIOCC). The CIOCC is composed of the National Cybersecurity and
Communications Integration Center, the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center, and the
National Coordinating Center for Communications. It is the focal point for federal partners, the
private sector, and local, state, tribal, and territorial governments to obtain situational awareness,
technical assistance, and integrated, actionable information to secure and defend the Nation’s
cyber, physical, and communications infrastructure. The CIOCC operates around the clock to
integrate, coordinate, and share risk and threat information with the critical infrastructure
community, perform consequence analyses of incidents affecting critical infrastructure, inform
decision making, provide technical expertise to address cyber threats and communications outages,
and coordinate infrastructure-related support for broader federal response efforts.

 National Military Command Center (NMCC). The Department of Defense’s (DoD) NMCC is
the Nation’s focal point for continuous monitoring and coordination of worldwide military
operations. The NMCC directly supports combatant commanders, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and the President in the command of U.S. Armed Forces in
peacetime contingencies and war. The NMCC participates in a wide variety of activities, ranging
from missile warning and attack assessment to management of peacetime operations, such as

22 The NOC is composed of the NOC Watch, Intelligence Watch, FEMA National Watch Center, National Response
Coordination Center, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Integrated Operations Coordination
Center.

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defense support of civil authorities during special events, major disasters, and national
emergencies.

 Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC). The SIOC acts as the FBI’s worldwide
EOC. The SIOC maintains situational awareness of criminal or terrorist threats and critical
incidents and crises (foreign and domestic, regardless of cause or origin) and provides FBI
headquarters executives, domestic field offices, and overseas legal attachés with timely notification
and the dissemination of strategic information. The SIOC shares information and intelligence with
other EOCs at all levels of government. Maintaining a constant state of readiness to support any
crisis or major event, the SIOC provides a secure venue to support crisis management, special event
monitoring, and significant operations. The SIOC provides command, control, communications
connectivity, and a common operating picture for managing FBI operational responses and assets
throughout the world on behalf of FBI Headquarters, divisions, field offices, and legal attachés. In
the event of a crisis, the SIOC establishes the headquarters command post and develops
connectivity to field command posts and JOCs. The FBI-led Weapons of Mass Destruction
Strategic Group is activated within the SIOC when facing weapons of mass destruction terrorist
threats. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Strategic Group is an interagency crisis action team that
supports information exchange and the deconfliction of counterterrorism activities.

The specific structures activated for a given incident depend on the levels of government involved, as
well as the legal authorities under which the response is being conducted.

National Security Council
The National Security Council (NSC) is the principal policy body for consideration of national security
policy issues requiring Presidential determination. The NSC advises and assists the President in
integrating all aspects of national security policy as it affects the United States—domestic, foreign,
military, intelligence, and economic (in conjunction with the National Economic Council).

R o l e s a n d R e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s f o r R e s p o n s e
This section describes those roles and responsibilities and sharpens the focus on identifying who is
involved with the response mission area. This section also addresses what the various partners must do
to deliver the response core capabilities and to integrate successfully with the prevention, protection,
mitigation, and recovery mission areas.

An effective, unified national response requires layered, mutually supporting capabilities. Individuals
and communities, the private sector, NGOs, and all levels of government (local, state, tribal, territorial,
insular area, and federal) should each understand their respective roles and responsibilities and how to
complement each other in achieving shared goals. All elements of the whole community play roles in
developing the core capabilities needed to respond to incidents. This includes developing plans that
ensure continuity of operations, conducting assessments and exercises, providing and directing
resources and capabilities, and gathering lessons-learned. These activities require that all partners
understand how they fit within and are supported by the structures described in the NRF.

Emergency management staff in all jurisdictions and organizations have a fundamental responsibility
to consider the needs of the whole community. These needs must be incorporated into response
planning and delivery of the core capabilities. The potential contributions of all individuals toward
delivering core capabilities during incident response (e.g., through associations and alliances that serve
the people previously identified) should be incorporated into planning efforts.

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Emergency management staff must also consider those who own or have responsibility for animals,
both as members of the community who may be affected by incidents and as a potential means of
supporting response efforts. This includes those with household pets, service and assistance animals,
working dogs, and agricultural animals/livestock, as well as those who have responsibility for wildlife,
exotic animals, zoo animals, research animals, and animals housed in shelters, rescue organizations,
breeding facilities, and sanctuaries.

C o m m u n i t i e s
Communities are groups that share goals, values, and institutions. Communities are not always limited
by geographic boundaries or political divisions. Instead, communities may be faith-based
organizations; voluntary organizations; neighborhood partnerships; advocacy groups; academia;
cultural, social, and community groups; and associations. Communities bring people together in
different ways for different reasons, but each community provides opportunities for sharing
information and promoting collective action. These communities may have resources and information
to stabilize community lifelines. Engaging these groups in preparedness efforts, particularly at the
local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area levels, is important to identifying their needs and taking
advantage of their potential contributions.

Private Sector
Private sector organizations engage in incident response through their own internal response and
continuity actions, the commodities they provide, their partnerships with each level of government,
and their roles within the supply chain. Elements of the private sector are most often the providers of
community lifeline services and have a key interest in the stabilization and restoration of their own
operations and those of other infrastructure systems. Private sector organizations also play a vital role
in ensuring communities and survivors have the services and resources necessary to respond to and
recover from all types of incidents. The private sector, comprised of small, medium, and large
businesses, spans nationally significant infrastructure to locally owned and operated businesses that,
while small, are staples of the community. The private sector includes commerce; healthcare; private,
cultural, and educational institutions; and industry, as well as public/private partnerships that have been
established specifically for emergency management purposes. During an incident, key private sector
partners should have a direct link to emergency managers and other relevant officials, such as those
from public health, economic development, and community planning agencies and, in some cases, be
involved in the decision-making process. Strong integration into response efforts can offer many
benefits to the public and private sectors.

As key elements of the national economy, it is important for private sector organizations of all types
and sizes to engage in preparedness planning, conduct risk assessments, and identify critical
community lifelines, functions, and resources that impact their businesses and communities.
Understanding and collaborating on the cross-sector interdependencies and cascading effects of a
potentially high-consequence incident on business, infrastructure, and supply chains improves
community resilience and can help private sector organizations to quickly resume normal operations.
Ultimately, the ability of the private sector to recover is inextricably linked to community recovery.

Owners and operators of certain regulated facilities or hazardous operations may be legally responsible
for preparing for and preventing incidents and responding when an incident occurs. For example, the
Atomic Energy Act, as amended, and associated regulations require owners and operators of
commercial nuclear powerplants and offsite response organizations (OROs) to maintain emergency
plans in order protect the health and safety of the public. Onsite response organizations and OROs
perform exercises, assessments, notifications, and training for incident response. Because of their

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significance in providing essential functions and services, it is vital that private critical infrastructure
sectors, such as privately-owned transportation and transit, telecommunications, utilities, financial
institutions, hospitals, and other health-related facilities, create and sustain effective business
continuity plans.

Private sector entities may serve as partners in local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area emergency
preparedness and response organizations and activities and with federal sector-specific agencies.
Private sector entities often participate in local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area preparedness
activities by providing resources (donated or compensated) during an incident—including specialized
teams, essential services, equipment, and advanced technologies—through local public-private
emergency plans or mutual aid and assistance agreements or in response to requests from government
and nongovernmental initiatives.

Restoring economic activity in an impacted area is fundamental to the recovery of the community.
Examples of key private sector activities that support this effort include the following:

 Planning, training, and exercising their response capabilities;
 Planning for, responding to, and recovering from incidents that impact their own infrastructure and

facilities;

 Protecting information, and maintaining the continuity of business operations in order to ensure
the integrity of supply chains or quickly establishing new supply chains to stabilize the community
and reduce human suffering;

 Providing assistance specified under mutual aid and assistance agreements;
 Addressing the welfare of employees (including disbursement of wages);
 Executing their own immediate response activities and meeting the continuity needs of

infrastructure, facilities, and business operations;

 Collaborating with emergency management personnel to determine what assistance may be
required and how they can provide needed support;

 Contributing to communication and information-sharing efforts during incidents, and providing
insight on the scope and scale of impacts;

 Identifying requirements for public sector support to enable stabilization of critical community
lifelines; and

 Contributing resources, personnel, and expertise; helping to shape objectives; and receiving
information about the status of the community.

Individuals, Families, and Households
Individuals, families, and households reduce potential emergency response requirements and hazards
in and around their homes by efforts such as raising utilities above flood level or securing unanchored
objects against the threat of high winds. Individuals, families, and households should also prepare
emergency supply kits and emergency plans, so they can take care of themselves and their neighbors
until assistance arrives. Information on emergency preparedness can be found at many local, state,
tribal, territorial, insular area, voluntary organization, and federal emergency management Websites,
such as http://www.ready.gov.

Individuals can also contribute to the preparedness and resilience of their households and communities
by volunteering with emergency organizations (e.g., the local chapter of the American Red Cross,

http://www.ready.gov/

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Medical Reserve Corps, Community Emergency Response Teams, or National Voluntary
Organizations Active in Disaster [National VOAD]) and completing emergency response training
courses. Individuals who have access and functional or medical needs should make preparations with
family members. Their plans should include provisions for personal assistance service providers and
any household pets or service and assistance animals. During an actual disaster, emergency, or threat,
individuals, households, and families should monitor emergency communications and follow guidance
and instructions provided by local authorities.

Nongovernmental Organizations
NGOs are a distinct category of organizations within the private sector that can support disaster
response and recovery. NGOs include voluntary, ethnic, faith-based, veteran-based, disability, and
nonprofit organizations that provide sheltering, emergency food supplies, and other essential support
services for people, household pets, and service animals. NGOs are inherently independent and
committed to specific interests and values. These interests and values drive the groups’ operational
priorities and shape the resources they provide. NGOs bolster government efforts at all levels and often
provide specialized services to the whole community. NGOs are key partners in preparedness activities
and response operations.

Examples of NGO contributions include the following:

 Training, management, and coordination of volunteers and donated goods;
 Ensuring staff are screened, trained, and able to safely perform their tasks;
 Identifying sheltering locations, ensuring access to those facilities, and communicating their

locations to the whole community;

 Providing emergency commodities and services, such as water, food, shelter, assistance with
family reunification, clothing, and supplies for post-emergency cleanup;

 Supporting the evacuation, rescue, care, and sheltering of animals displaced by the incident;
 Supporting search and rescue, transportation, and logistics services and support;
 Identifying and supporting the unmet needs of survivors who have been affected by the disaster;
 Identifying and supporting the heath, medical, mental health, and behavior health resources of the

impacted community; and

 Supporting disaster survivors, identifying unmet needs, and developing individual recovery plans.
At the same time, when NGOs support response core capabilities they may also require government
assistance. When planning for local community emergency management resources, government
organizations should consider the potential need to support NGOs in performing their essential
response functions. Volunteers and donors support response efforts in many ways. Governments at all
levels must plan ahead to incorporate volunteers and donated resources into response activities. Close
collaboration with the voluntary organizations and agencies assists in managing the influx of
volunteers and donations. Additional information can be found in the Volunteers and Donations
Management Support Annex.

Some NGOs and functions are officially designated as support elements to national response
capabilities, such as the following:

 The American Red Cross. The American Red Cross is chartered by Congress to provide relief to
survivors of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from

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emergencies. The Red Cross has a legal status of a “federal chartered instrumentality” and
maintains a special relationship with the Federal Government.23 In this capacity, the American Red
Cross is the co-lead of ESF #6 and supports several other ESFs and the delivery of multiple core
capabilities.

 National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.24 National VOAD is an association of
organizations that mitigates and alleviates the impact of disasters; provides a forum promoting
cooperation, communication, coordination and collaboration; and fosters more effective delivery
of services to communities impacted by a disaster. National VOAD is a consortium of over
70 national organizations and 56 territorial and state equivalents.

 National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). Within the NCMEC, the
National Emergency Child Locator Center facilitates the expeditious identification and
reunification of children with their families.

L o c a l G o v e r n m e n t
The responsibility for responding to natural and human-caused incidents that have recognizable
geographic boundaries generally begins at the local level with individuals and public officials in the
county, parish, city, or town affected by an incident. The following paragraphs describe the
responsibilities of specific local officials who have emergency management responsibilities.

Chief Elected or Appointed Official
Jurisdictional chief executives are responsible for the public safety and welfare of the people of their
jurisdiction. Officials provide strategic guidance and resources across all five mission areas. Chief
elected or appointed officials must have a clear understanding of their emergency management roles
and responsibilities and how to apply the response core capabilities because they may need to make
decisions regarding resources and operations during an incident to stabilize community lifelines. Lives
may depend on their decisions. Elected and appointed officials also routinely shape or modify laws,
policies, and budgets to aid preparedness efforts and improve emergency management and response
capabilities. The local chief executive’s response duties may include the following:

 Obtaining assistance from other governmental agencies,
 Providing direction for response activities, and
 Ensuring appropriate information is provided to the public.

Local Emergency Manager
The jurisdiction’s emergency manager oversees the day-to-day emergency management programs and
activities. The emergency manager works with chief elected and appointed officials to establish unified
objectives regarding the jurisdiction’s emergency plans and activities. This role entails coordinating
and integrating all elements of the community. The emergency manager coordinates the local
emergency management program. This includes assessing the capacity and readiness to deliver the
capabilities most likely required to stabilize community lifelines during an incident and identifying
and correcting shortfalls. The local emergency manager’s duties often include the following:

 Advising elected and appointed officials during a response;

23 36 U.S.C. Chapter 3001: The American Red Cross.
24 Additional information is available at https://www.nvoad.org/.

Homepage

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 Conducting response operations in accordance with the NIMS.
 Coordinating the functions of local agencies;
 Coordinating the development of plans, and working cooperatively with other local agencies,

community organizations, private sector businesses, and NGOs;

 Developing and maintaining mutual aid and assistance agreements;
 Coordinating resource requests during an incident through the management of an emergency

operations center;

 Coordinating damage assessments during an incident;
 Advising and informing local officials and the public about emergency management activities

during an incident to facilitate response operations such as sheltering, avoiding, evacuating, and
resupply of food and water;

 Developing and executing accessible public awareness and education programs;
 Conducting exercises to rehearse response activities; test personnel, plans and systems; and

identify areas for improvement;

 Coordinating integration of individuals with disabilities, individuals from racially and ethnically
diverse backgrounds, and others with access and functional needs into emergency planning and
response; and

 Helping to ensure the continuation of essential services and functions through the development and
implementation of continuity of operations plans.

Other Local Departments and Agencies
Local government department and agency heads collaborate with the emergency manager during the
development of local emergency plans and provide key response resources. Participation in the
planning process helps to ensure that specific capabilities are integrated into a workable plan to
safeguard the community. The department and agency heads and their staffs develop, plan, and train
on internal policies and procedures to meet response needs safely, and they participate in interagency
training and exercises to develop and maintain necessary capabilities.

Similar to the federal and state level, local emergency management agencies are not the
only entities involved in incident response. Local departments, agencies, and offices, such
as those for emergency medical services, economic development, public health, law
enforcement, fire, public works, land use planning, building construction, and animal
control, as well as other administrative elements of local government, have a significant
role to play and provide valuable perspective, depending on the incident.

S t a t e , T r i b a l , T e r r i t o r i a l , a n d I n s u l a r A r e a G o v e r n m e n t
State, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments are responsible for the health and welfare of their
residents, communities, lands, and cultural heritage.

States
State governments supplement local efforts before, during, and after incidents by applying in-state
resources first. When an incident expands or has the potential to expand beyond the capability of a

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local jurisdiction and responders cannot meet the needs with mutual aid and assistance resources, local
officials contact the state.

Upon receiving a request for assistance from a local or tribal government, state officials may do the
following:

 Coordinate warnings and public information through the activation of the state’s public
communications strategy;

 Distribute supplies stockpiled to meet the needs of the emergency;
 Provide technical assistance and support to meet the response and recovery needs;
 Suspend or waive statutes, rules, ordinances, and orders, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure

timely performance of response functions;

 Implement state volunteer and donations management plans, and coordinate with the private sector
and voluntary organizations;

 Order or recommend evacuations ensuring the integration and inclusion of the requirements of
populations such as children; individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional
needs; those from religious, racial, and ethnically diverse communities; people with limited English
proficiency; and owners of animals, including household pets and service and assistance animals;
and

 Mobilize resources to meet the requirements of individuals with disabilities and others with access
and functional needs in compliance with federal civil rights laws.

If additional resources are required, states can request assistance from other states through interstate
mutual aid and assistance agreements such as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact
(EMAC). Administered by the National Emergency Management Association, EMAC is an interstate
mutual aid agreement that streamlines the interstate mutual aid and assistance process. If a state
anticipates that its resources may be exceeded, the governor25 may request assistance from the Federal
Government through a Stafford Act declaration.

The following paragraphs describe some of the roles and responsibilities of key officials, as well as
other departments and agencies.

Governor
The public safety and welfare of a state’s residents are the fundamental responsibilities of every
governor. The governor coordinates state resources and provides the strategic guidance for response to
all types of incidents. This includes supporting local governments, as needed, and coordinating
assistance with other states and the Federal Government. A governor also does the following during
response:

 In accordance with state law, may make, amend, or suspend certain orders or regulations associated
with response efforts;

 Communicates to the public in an accessible manner (i.e., effective communications to address all
members of the whole community), and helps people, businesses, and organizations cope with the
consequences of and protective actions for any type of incident;

 Coordinates with tribal governments within the state; and

25 “Governor” is used throughout this document to refer to the chief executive of states, territories, and insular areas.

https://www.emacweb.org/

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 Commands the state military forces (National Guard personnel not in federal service and state
defense forces).

State Homeland Security Adviser
Many states have designated homeland security advisers who serve as counsel to the governor on
homeland security issues and may serve as a liaison between the governor’s office, the state homeland
security structure, and other organizations inside and outside of the state. The advisor may chair a
committee composed of representatives of relevant state agencies, including public safety, the National
Guard, emergency management, public health, environment, agriculture, and others charged with
developing prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery strategies.

State Emergency Management Agency Director
All states have laws mandating the establishment of a state emergency management agency, as well as
the emergency plans coordinated by that agency. The director of the state emergency management
agency is responsible for ensuring that the state is prepared to deal with large-scale emergencies and
coordinating the statewide response to such incidents. This includes supporting local and tribal
governments, as needed; coordinating assistance with other states and the Federal Government; and,
in some cases, with NGOs and private sector organizations. The state emergency management agency
may dispatch personnel to assist in the response and recovery effort.

National Guard
The National Guard is an important state resource available for planning, preparing, and responding to
natural or human-caused incidents.26 National Guard members have expertise in critical areas, such as
emergency medical response; communications; logistics; search and rescue; civil engineering;
chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear response and planning; and decontamination.

The governor may order members of the National Guard to state active-duty status to support state
functions and activities. The governor or the state adjutant general may assign members of the National
Guard to assist with state, regional, and federal emergency management plans. In American Samoa,
the governor coordinates response activities with the U.S. Army Reserve because it is the sole U.S.
territory with no National Guard.

Other State Departments and Agencies
State department and agency heads and their staffs develop, plan, and train on internal policies and
procedures to meet response and recovery needs. As discussed earlier, these departments and agencies
represent the full range of authorities and resources of the state government, such as law enforcement,
transportation, housing, economic development, public works, health, social services, and agriculture.
State department and agency heads also provide important links to regional voluntary organizations,
business, and industry. Staff from these departments and agencies also participate in interagency
training and exercises to develop and maintain the necessary capabilities and share resources through
mutual aid agreements. State department and agency heads are vital to the state’s overall emergency
management program because they bring expertise spanning various response functions and serve as
core members of the state EOC and ICP. Many state department and agency heads have direct

26 The President may order National Guard forces to active duty (e.g., sections 12302 or 12304 of title 10, U.S.C.),
call National Guard forces into Federal service (e.g., the Insurrection Act), or request National Guard force support of
DoD operations or missions (e.g., section 502(f) of title 32 U.S.C.) in the United States. When ordered to active duty
or called into Federal service, National Guard forces operate under the command of the Secretary of Defense.

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experience in providing accessible and vital services to the whole community during response
operations. State departments and agencies typically work in close coordination with their federal
counterpart agencies during joint state and federal responses, and under some federal laws, they may
request assistance from these federal partners.

Tribes
In accordance with the Stafford Act, the chief executive27 of an affected Indian tribal government may
submit a request for a declaration by the President. Tribal governments are responsible for coordinating
resources to address actual or potential incidents. When coordinating with tribes, language and cultural
differences must be considered, as well as overlapping authorities.

Tribes are encouraged to build relationships with local jurisdictions and states because these entities
may have resources most readily available. The NRF’s Tribal Coordination Support Annex outlines
processes and mechanisms that tribal governments may use to request federal assistance during an
incident.

Chief Executive
The chief executive is responsible for the public safety and welfare of his/her respective tribe. The
chief executive coordinates tribal resources and helps guide the response to all types of incidents. This
includes coordinating assistance with states, as well as the Federal Government. The chief executive
does the following during response:

 In accordance with the law, may make, amend, or suspend certain orders or regulations associated
with the response;

 Communicates with the public in an accessible manner, and helps people, businesses, and
organizations cope with the consequences of all types of incidents;

 Negotiates mutual aid and assistance agreements with other local jurisdictions, states, tribes,
territories, and insular area governments; and

 Can request federal assistance.

Territorial and Insular Area Governments
Territorial and insular area governments are responsible for coordinating resources to address actual
or potential incidents and have many of the same functions states have, as previously listed in this
section. Because of their remote locations, territorial and insular area governments often face unique
challenges in receiving assistance from outside the jurisdiction quickly and often request assistance
from neighboring islands, other nearby countries, states, the private sector or NGO resources, or the
Federal Government. Additionally, there are language and cultural differences that must be considered,
as well as the potential for authorities that overlap with federal authorities.

Territorial/Insular Area Leader
The territorial/insular area leader is responsible for the public safety and welfare of the people of his/her
jurisdiction. As authorized by the territorial or insular area government, the leader does the following:

 Coordinates resources needed to respond to incidents of all types;

27 The Stafford Act uses the term “chief executive” to refer to the person who is the chief, chairman, governor,
president, or similar executive official of an Indian tribal government.

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 In accordance with the law, may make, amend, or suspend certain orders or regulations associated
with the response;

 Communicates with the public in an accessible manner, and helps people, businesses, and
organizations cope with the consequences of all types of incidents;

 Commands the territory’s military forces;
 Negotiates mutual aid and assistance agreements with other local jurisdictions, states, tribes,

territories, and insular area governments; and

 Can request federal assistance.

F e d e r a l G o v e r n m e n t
The Federal Government maintains a wide range of capabilities and resources that may be required to
deal with domestic incidents in order to save lives and protect property and the environment while
ensuring the protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties and supporting the stabilization of
community lifelines. To be successful, any approach to the delivery of response capabilities will
require an all-of-nation approach. All federal departments and agencies must cooperate with one
another and with local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments, community members,
voluntary organizations, and the private sector to the maximum extent possible.

The Federal Government becomes involved with a response when federal interests are involved; when
local, state, tribal, territorial, or insular resources are insufficient and federal assistance is requested;
or as authorized or required by statute, regulation, or policy. Accordingly, in some instances, the
Federal Government may play a supporting role to local, state, tribal, territorial, or insular area
authorities by providing federal assistance to the affected parties. For example, the Federal
Government provides assistance to local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area authorities when the
President declares a major disaster or emergency under the Stafford Act. In other instances, the Federal
Government may play a leading role in the response where the Federal Government has primary
jurisdiction or when incidents occur on federal property (e.g., national parks and military bases).

Regardless of the type of incident, the President leads the Federal Government response effort to ensure
that the necessary resources are applied quickly and efficiently to large-scale and catastrophic
incidents. Different federal departments or agencies lead coordination of the Federal Government’s
response, depending on the type and magnitude of the incident, and are also supported by other
agencies that bring their relevant capabilities to bear in responding to the incident.

Secretary of Homeland Security
In conjunction with these efforts, the statutory mission of DHS is to act as a focal point regarding
natural and human-caused crises and emergency planning. Pursuant to the Homeland Security Act and
Presidential directive, the Secretary of Homeland Security is the principal federal official for domestic
incident management. The Secretary of Homeland Security coordinates preparedness activities within
the United States to respond to and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other
emergencies. The Secretary of Homeland Security coordinates with federal entities to provide for
federal unity of efforts for domestic incident management. As part of these responsibilities, the
Secretary of Homeland Security does the following during response:

 Provides the executive branch with an overall architecture for domestic incident management, and
coordinates the federal response, as required; and

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 Monitors activities, assesses risk, and activates specific response mechanisms to support other
federal departments and agencies without assuming the overall coordination of the federal response
during incidents that do not require the Secretary of Homeland Security to coordinate the response
or do not result in a Stafford Act declaration.

Other federal departments and agencies carry out their response authorities and responsibilities within
this overarching construct of DHS coordination.

Unity of effort differs from unity of command. Various federal departments and agencies may have
statutory responsibilities and lead roles based on the unique circumstances of the incident. Unity of
effort provides coordination through cooperation and common interests and does not interfere with
federal departments’ and agencies’ supervisory, command, or statutory authorities. The Secretary of
Homeland Security does the following during response:

 Ensures that overall federal actions are unified, complete, and synchronized to prevent unfilled
gaps in the Federal Government’s overarching effort. This coordinated approach ensures that the
federal actions undertaken by DHS and other departments and agencies are harmonized and
mutually supportive.

 Executes these coordination responsibilities, in part, by engaging directly with the President and
relevant Cabinet, department, agency, and DHS component heads, as is necessary, to ensure a
focused, efficient, and unified federal preparedness posture. All federal departments and agencies,
in turn, cooperate with the Secretary of Homeland Security in executing domestic incident
management duties.

The Secretary of Homeland Security’s responsibilities also include management of the broad
emergency management and response authorities of FEMA and other DHS components. DHS
component heads may have lead response roles or other significant roles, depending on the type and
severity of the incident. For example, the U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency for security design,
planning, and implementation of national special security events, while the Assistant Director for
Cybersecurity for DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) coordinates the
response to significant cyber incidents.

FEMA Administrator
The FEMA Administrator is the principal adviser to the President, the Secretary of Homeland Security,
and the National Security Council regarding emergency management. The FEMA Administrator’s
duties include the following:

 Assisting the President, through the Secretary of Homeland Security, in carrying out the Stafford
Act, operation of the NRCC and RRCCs, the effective support of all ESFs, and, more generally,
preparation for, protection against, response to, and recovery from all types of incidents.

 Reporting to the Secretary of Homeland Security, the FEMA Administrator is also responsible for
managing the core DHS grant programs supporting homeland security activities.28

Attorney General
The Attorney General has lead responsibility for criminal investigations of terrorist acts or terrorist
threats by individuals or groups inside the United States or directed at U.S. citizens or institutions
abroad, where such acts are within the federal criminal jurisdiction of the United States. The Attorney

28 See the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act, enacted as part of the Fiscal Year 2007 DHS
Appropriations Act, Public Law 109-295.

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General is also responsible for related intelligence collection activities within the United States, subject
to the National Security Act of 1947 (as amended) and other applicable laws, Executive Order 12333
(as amended), and Attorney General-approved procedures pursuant to that Executive order.

 Acting through the FBI, the Attorney General, in cooperation with other federal departments and
agencies engaged in activities to protect the national security, shall also coordinate the activities of
the other members of the law enforcement community to detect, prevent, preempt, and disrupt
terrorist attacks against the United States.

 In addition, the Attorney General, generally acting through the FBI Director, has primary
responsibility for searching for, finding, and neutralizing weapons of mass destruction within the
United States.

 The Attorney General approves requests submitted by state governors, pursuant to the Emergency
Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Act, for personnel and other federal law enforcement support
during incidents.

 The Attorney General also enforces federal civil rights laws, such as the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Further
information on the Attorney General’s role is provided in the National Prevention Framework and
Prevention FIOP.

Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense has authority, direction, and control over DoD.29 DoD resources may be
committed when requested by another federal agency and approved by the Secretary of Defense or
when directed by the President. Certain DoD officials and DoD component heads, by statute and/or
DoD policy, are authorized to approve or delegate the authority to approve certain types of support to
civil authorities.30 DoD policy regarding defense support of civil authorities can be found in DoD
Directive 3025.18, Defense Support to Civil Authorities.31 32 When DoD resources are authorized to
support civil authorities, command of those forces remains with the Secretary of Defense. Under the
command and control of the Secretary of Defense, the operational coordination and employment of
such resources are normally led by the designated Combatant Command (e.g., U.S. Northern
Command, Southern Command, or Indo-Pacific Command). DoD elements in the incident area of
operations coordinate closely with response organizations at all levels.

29 10 U.S.C. §113.
30 For example, certain DoD officials may provide an immediate response by temporarily employing the resources
under their control, subject to any supplemental direction provided by higher headquarters, to save lives, prevent
human suffering, or mitigate great property damage within the United States in response to a request for assistance
from a civil authority, under imminently serious conditions and, if time does not permit, obtaining approval from a
higher authority. Immediate response authority does not permit actions that would subject civilians to the use of
military power that is regulatory, prescriptive, proscriptive, or compulsory (DoD Directive 3025.18). DoD support
may also include support provided through mutual or automatic aid agreements, pursuant to Chapter 15A of Title 42
U.S.C. or pursuant to other statutory authorities or agreements.
31 For example, DoD Instruction 3025.24, “DoD Public Health and Medical Services in Support of Civil Authorities.”
32For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has independent statutory authorities regarding emergency
management, such as Section 5 of the Flood Control Act of 1941 (Public Law 84-99) (e.g., providing technical
assistance; direct assistance, such as providing sandbags, pumps, and other types of flood fight materials; emergency
contracting; and emergency water assistance due to contaminated water source). Also, the Defense Logistics Agency
has an interagency agreement with FEMA to provide commodities, including fuel, to civil authorities responding to
disasters.

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Secretary of State
A domestic incident may have international and diplomatic implications that call for coordination and
consultation with foreign governments and international organizations. The Secretary of State is
responsible for all communication and coordination between the U.S. Government and other nations
regarding the response to a domestic crisis. The Department of State also coordinates international
offers of assistance and formally accepts or declines these offers on behalf of the U.S. Government,
based on needs conveyed by federal departments and agencies, as stated in the International
Coordination Support Annex. Some types of international assistance are pre-identified, and bilateral
agreements are already established. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Forest
Service and Department of the Interior have joint bilateral agreements with several countries for
wildland firefighting support.

Director of National Intelligence
The Director of National Intelligence serves as the head of the intelligence community, acts as the
principal advisor to the President for intelligence matters relating to national security, and oversees
and directs implementation of the National Intelligence Program. The intelligence community,
comprising 17 elements across the Federal Government, functions consistent with laws, Executive
orders, regulations, and policies to support the national security-related missions of the U.S.
Government. The Director of National Intelligence provides a range of analytic products, including
those that assess threats to the homeland and inform planning, capability development, and operational
activities of homeland security enterprise partners and stakeholders. In addition to intelligence
community elements with specific homeland security missions, the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence maintains a number of mission and support centers that provide unique capabilities for
homeland security partners.

Emergency Support Function Roles and Responsibilities
ESFs are not solely attributed to any one organization, nor are they mechanisms for executing an
agency’s statutory authorities. The federal ESFs bring together the capabilities of federal departments
and agencies and other national-level assets. Most federal ESFs support a number of the response core
capabilities. The core capabilities are delivered to stabilize the community lifelines. Any core
capability may be required to help stabilize any community lifeline; therefore, any ESF can contribute
toward the stabilization of any community lifeline in coordination with the lead ESF.

Federal ESFs are groups of organizations that work together to deliver core capabilities to stabilize
community lifelines in support of an effective response. In addition, there are responsibilities and
actions associated with federal ESFs that extend beyond the core capabilities and support other
response activities, as well as department and agency responsibilities. While ESFs are primarily a
federal coordinating mechanism, states and other organizations or levels of government may adopt the
construct, as well.

Federal ESF coordinators oversee the preparedness activities for a particular ESF and coordinate
with its primary and support agencies. Responsibilities of the ESF coordinator include the following
during response:

 Maintaining contact with ESF primary and support agencies through conference calls, meetings,
training activities, and exercises;

 Monitoring the ESF’s progress in delivering the core capabilities in an effort to stabilize the incident;
 Coordinating efforts with corresponding private sector, NGO, and federal partners;

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 Ensuring the ESF is engaged in appropriate planning and preparedness activities; and
 Sharing information and coordinating across the spectrum of primary and support agencies.
ESF primary agencies have significant authorities, roles, resources, and capabilities for a particular
function within an ESF. Primary agencies are responsible for the following:

 Orchestrating support and strategy development within their functional area for the appropriate
response core capabilities and other ESF missions;

 Notifying and requesting assistance from support agencies;
 Managing mission assignments (in Stafford Act incidents), and coordinating with support agencies,

as well as appropriate state officials, operations centers, and other stakeholders;

 Coordinating resources resulting from mission assignments;
 Working with all types of organizations to maximize the use of all available resources;
 Monitoring progress in delivering core capability and other ESF missions, and providing that

information as part of situational and periodic readiness or preparedness assessments;

 Planning for incident management, short-term recovery operations, and transition to long-term
recovery support operations;

 Maintaining trained personnel to support interagency emergency response and support teams;
 Identifying new equipment or capabilities required to prevent or respond to new or emerging

threats and hazards or to validate and improve capabilities to address changing risks; and

 Promoting physical accessibility, programmatic inclusion, and effective communication for the
whole community, including individuals with disabilities.

ESF support agencies have specific capabilities or resources that support primary agencies in
executing the mission of the ESF. The activities of support agencies typically include the following:

 Participating in planning for incident management, short-term recovery operations, transition to
long-term recovery support operations, and the development of supporting operational plans,
standard operating procedures, checklists, or other job aids;

 Providing input to periodic readiness assessments;
 Maintaining trained personnel to support interagency emergency response and support teams;
 Identifying new equipment or capabilities required to respond to new or emerging threats and

hazards or to improve the ability to address existing threats; and

 Coordinating resources resulting from response mission assignments.
Table 4 summarizes the federal ESFs and indicates the response core capabilities each ESF most
directly supports. All ESFs support the common core capabilities—planning, public information and
warning, and operational coordination—and many ESFs support more than those listed.

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Table 4: Emergency Support Functions and ESF Coordinators

ESF #1 – Transportation
ESF Coordinator: Department of Transportation
Coordinates the support of management of transportation systems and infrastructure, the regulation of
transportation, management of the Nation’s airspace, and ensuring the safety and security of the
national transportation system. Functions include but are not limited to the following:
 Transportation modes management and control;
 Transportation safety;
 Stabilization and reestablishment of transportation infrastructure;
 Movement restrictions; and
 Damage and impact assessment.

ESF #2 – Communications
ESF Coordinator: DHS/ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
Coordinates government and industry efforts for the reestablishment and provision of critical
communications infrastructure and services, facilitates the stabilization of systems and applications from
malicious activity (e.g., cyber), and coordinates communications support to response efforts (e.g.,
emergency communication services and emergency alerts and telecommunications). Functions include
but are not limited to the following:
 Coordination with telecommunications and information technology industries;
 Coordination of the reestablishment and provision of critical communications infrastructure;
 Protection, reestablishment, and sustainment of national cyber and information technology resources;
 Oversight of communications within the federal response structures; and
 Facilitation of the stabilization of systems and applications from cyber events.

ESF #3 – Public Works and Engineering
ESF Coordinator: DOD/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Coordinates the capabilities and resources to facilitate the delivery of services, technical assistance,
engineering expertise, construction management, and other support to prepare for, respond to, and
recover from a disaster or an incident. Functions include but are not limited to the following:
 Infrastructure protection and emergency repair;
 Critical infrastructure reestablishment;
 Engineering services and construction management; and
 Emergency contracting support for life-saving and life-sustaining services.

ESF #4 – Firefighting
ESF Coordinator: USDA/U.S. Forest Service and DHS/FEMA/U.S. Fire Administration

Coordinates the support for the detection and suppression of fires. Functions include but are not limited
to supporting wildland, rural, and urban firefighting operations.

ESF #5 – Information and Planning
ESF Coordinator: DHS/FEMA

Supports and facilitates multiagency planning and coordination for operations involving incidents requiring
federal coordination. Functions include but are not limited to the following:
 Deliberate and crisis action planning; and
 Information collection, analysis, visualization and dissemination.

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ESF #6 – Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Temporary Housing, and Human Services
ESF Coordinator: DHS/FEMA

Coordinates the delivery of mass care and emergency assistance. Functions include but are not limited to
the following:
 Mass care;
 Emergency assistance;
 Temporary housing; and
 Human services.

ESF #7 – Logistics
ESF Coordinator: General Services Administration and DHS/FEMA

Coordinates comprehensive incident resource planning, management, and sustainment capability to meet
the needs of disaster survivors and responders. Functions include but are not limited to the following:
 Comprehensive national incident logistics planning, management, and sustainment capability; and
 Resource support (e.g., facility space, office equipment and supplies, and contracting services).

ESF #8 – Public Health and Medical Services
ESF Coordinator: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Coordinates the mechanisms for assistance in response to an actual or potential public health and medical
disaster or incident. Functions include but are not limited to the following:
 Public health;
 Medical surge support, including patient movement;
 Behavioral health services;
 Mass fatality management; and
 Veterinary, medical, and public health services.

ESF #9 – Search and Rescue
ESF Coordinator: DHS/FEMA

Coordinates the rapid deployment of search and rescue resources to provide specialized life-saving
assistance. Functions include but are not limited to the following:
 Structural collapse (urban) search and rescue;
 Maritime/coastal/waterborne search and rescue; and
 Land search and rescue.

ESF #10 – Oil and Hazardous Materials Response
ESF Coordinator: Environmental Protection Agency

Coordinates support in response to an actual or potential discharge and/or release of oil or hazardous
materials. Functions include but are not limited to the following:
 Environmental assessment of the nature and extent of oil and hazardous materials contamination; and
 Environmental decontamination and cleanup, including buildings/structures and management of

contaminated waste.

ESF #11 – Agriculture and Natural Resources
ESF Coordinator: Department of Agriculture

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Coordinates a variety of functions designed to protect the Nation’s food supply, respond to pest and
disease incidents impacting agriculture, and protect natural and cultural resources. Functions include but
are not limited to the following:
 Nutrition assistance;
 Agricultural disease and pest response;
 Technical expertise, coordination, and support of animal and agricultural emergency management;
 Meat, poultry, and processed egg products safety and defense; and
 Natural and cultural resources and historic properties protection.

ESF #12 – Energy
ESF Coordinator: Department of Energy

Facilitates the reestablishment of damaged energy systems and components, and provides technical
expertise during an incident involving radiological/nuclear materials. Functions include but are not limited to
the following:
 Energy infrastructure assessment, repair, and reestablishment;
 Energy industry utilities coordination; and
 Energy forecast.

ESF #13 – Public Safety and Security
ESF Coordinator: Department of Justice/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Coordinates the integration of public safety and security capabilities and resources to support the full
range of incident management activities. Functions include but are not limited to the following:
 Facility and resource security;
 Security planning and technical resource assistance;
 Public safety and security support; and
 Support to access, traffic, and crowd control.

ESF #14 – Cross-Sector Business and Infrastructure
ESF Coordinator: DHS/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Coordinates cross-sector operations with infrastructure owners and operators, businesses, and their
government partners, with particular focus on actions taken by businesses and infrastructure owners and
operators in one sector to assist other sectors to better prevent or mitigate cascading failures between
them. Focuses particularly on those sectors not currently aligned to other ESFs (e.g., the Financial
Services Sector). Functions include but are not limited to the following:
 Assessment, analysis, and situational awareness of cross-sector challenges; and
 Facilitates operational coordination with critical infrastructure sectors.

ESF #15 – External Affairs
ESF Coordinator: DHS
Coordinates the release of accurate, coordinated, timely, and accessible public information to affected
audiences, including the government, media, NGOs, and the private sector. Works closely with state and
local officials to ensure outreach to the whole community. Functions include but are not limited to the
following:
 Public affairs and the Joint Information Center;
 Intergovernmental (local, state, tribal, territorial, nongovernmental, and private sector) affairs; and
 Congressional affairs.

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The Emergency Support Function Leadership Group (ESFLG) is composed of federal
departments and agencies designated as coordinators for ESFs or coordinating agencies for other
NRF annexes. The ESFLG provides a forum for departments and agencies with roles in federal
incident response to jointly address matters pertaining to the community lifelines, emergency
response policy, preparedness, operations, and training. The ESFLG promotes federal unity of effort
through the exchange of information and coordinated decision making during disaster response.
FEMA leads the ESFLG and is responsible for coordinating steady-state and operational activities.

Other Federal Department and Agency Heads
The heads of all federal departments and agencies provide their full and prompt cooperation, resources,
and support, as appropriate and consistent with their own responsibilities, for protecting the national
security. Various federal departments or agencies play primary, coordinating, or support roles in
delivering response core capabilities. In some circumstances, other federal agencies may have a lead
or support role in coordinating operations or elements of operations, consistent with applicable legal
authorities. Nothing in the NRF precludes a federal department or agency from executing its existing
authorities. For all incidents, federal department and agency heads serve as advisors for the executive
branch relative to their areas of responsibility.

Federal departments and agencies designated as coordinating and cooperating agencies in NRF support
annexes conduct a variety of activities, to include managing specific functions and missions and
providing federal support within their functional areas.

F e d e r a l A u t h o r i t i e s
Federal assistance can be provided to local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area jurisdictions, as
well as to other federal departments and agencies, through several different mechanisms and
authorities. Federal financial assistance may also be available for disability-related access and
functional needs equipment.

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Different federal departments or agencies lead coordination of the Federal Government’s response
actions, depending on their express and implied statutory authorities and based on the type and
magnitude of the incident. Federal departments or agencies are supported by other agencies who bring
relevant capabilities that support those affected by the incident. Figure 5 shows the authorities for
coordination of federal response support described in the following sections.

Figure 5: Incident Management and Response Authorities for the Federal Government

F e d e r a l R e s p o n s e a n d A s s i s t a n c e U n d e r t h e R o b e r t T . S t a f f o r d
D i s a s t e r R e l i e f a n d E m e r g e n c y A s s i s t a n c e A c t
The Federal Government may provide assistance in the form of funding, resources, and services.
Federal departments and agencies respect the sovereignty and responsibilities of local, state, tribal,
territorial, and insular area governments, while rendering assistance that supports the affected local,
state, tribal, territorial, and insular governments.

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Local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments do not require federal assistance to respond
to most incidents; however, when an incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response
is beyond the capabilities of the local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area governments, the
governor or chief executive of a tribe can request federal assistance under the Stafford Act. In certain
circumstances, the President may declare an emergency without a request from a governor when the
primary responsibility for response rests with the United States because the emergency involves a
subject area for which, under the Constitution or laws of the United States, the United States exercises
exclusive or preeminent responsibility and authority.

The Stafford Act authorizes the President to provide financial and other assistance to local, state, tribal,
territorial, and insular area governments; certain private nonprofit organizations; and individuals to
support response, recovery, and mitigation efforts following a Stafford Act emergency or major
disaster declaration.33 Most forms of Stafford Act assistance require a cost share. While federal
assistance under the Stafford Act may only be delivered after a declaration, FEMA may pre-deploy
federal assets when a declaration is likely and imminent. The Stafford Act provides for two types of
declarations:

 An emergency declaration is more limited in scope than a major disaster declaration, involves
fewer federal programs, and is not normally associated with recovery programs. However, the
President may issue an emergency declaration prior to an actual incident to lessen or avert the
threat of a catastrophe. Generally, federal assistance and funding are provided to meet specific
emergency needs or to help prevent a catastrophe from occurring.

 A major disaster declaration provides more federal programs for response and recovery than an
emergency declaration. Unlike an emergency declaration, a major disaster declaration may only be
issued after an incident.

F e d e r a l D e p a r t m e n t s a n d A g e n c i e s A c t i n g U n d e r T h e i r O w n
A u t h o r i t i e s
Immediate life-saving assistance to states, tribes, territories, and insular areas, as well as other types of
assistance, such as wildland firefighting support or response to an agricultural disease or significant
cyber incident, are performed by federal departments or agencies under their own authorities and
funding or through reciprocal mutual assistance agreements. Some federal departments or agencies
have authorities to declare specific types of disasters or emergencies and conduct or lead federal
response actions using funding sources other than the Disaster Relief Fund. For example, specific trust
funds are established under federal environmental laws to support and fund oil and hazardous
substances response operations. Similarly, federal land management agencies are required at all times
to respond to incidents of all magnitudes that occur on or impact federal lands managed by those
agencies, while federal departments and agencies acting under the trust doctrine can provide financial
and programmatic support to tribes, when requested.

When the Secretary of Homeland Security is not coordinating the overall response, federal departments
and agencies may coordinate federal operations under their own statutory authorities or as designated
by the President and may activate response structures applicable to those authorities. The head of the
department or agency may also request the Secretary of Homeland Security to activate NRF structures
and elements (e.g. Incident Management Assistance Teams and National Operation Center elements)
to provide additional assistance, while still retaining leadership for the response.

33 These authorities may be exercised independently of, concurrently with, or become part of a federal response
coordinated by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to Presidential directive.

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Federal departments and agencies carry out their response authorities and responsibilities within the
NRF’s overarching construct or under supplementary or complementary operational plans. Table 5
provides examples of scenarios in which specific federal departments and agencies have the
responsibility for coordinating response activities. This is not an all-inclusive list; incident annexes
contained in FIOPs provide greater operational detail for these and other incidents.

Table 5: Examples of Other Federal Department and Agency Authorities34

Scenario Department/Agency Authorities

Agricultural
and Food
Incident

USDA

The Secretary of Agriculture has the authority to declare an
extraordinary emergency and take action because of the
presence of a pest or disease of livestock that threatens
livestock in the United States. (7 U.S.C. § 8306 [2007]). The
Secretary of Agriculture also has the authority to declare an
extraordinary emergency and take action because of the
presence of a plant pest or noxious weed whose presence
threatens plants or plant products of the United States.
(7 U.S.C. § 7715 [2007]).

Public Health
and Medical
Incident35

Department of Health
and Human Services
(HHS)

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human
Services has the authority to take actions to protect the public
health and welfare, declare a public health emergency, and
to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies
(Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.).

The Public Health Service Act (PHSA), as amended by the
Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act,
Public Law No. 113-5, forms the foundation of HHS legal
authority for responding to public health emergencies (Public
Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.). The Project
BioShield Act amended the PHSA to provide flexible authorities
to expedite and enhance research, development, procurement,
and stockpiling of medical countermeasures for a biological
incident (Public Law 108-276 (as amended at 21 U.S.C. §
360bbb-3; 42 U.S.C. §§ 247d-6a, 247d-6b).

Oil and
Hazardous
Materials Spills

Environmental
Protection Agency
(EPA) or U.S. Coast
Guard (USCG)

The EPA and USCG have the authority to take actions to
respond to oil discharges and releases of hazardous
substances, pollutants, and contaminants, including leading
the response. (42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq., 33 U.S.C. § 1251
et seq.). The EPA Administrator and Commandant of the
USCG36 may also classify an oil discharge as a spill of
national significance and designate senior officials to
participate in the response. (40 CFR Part 300.323). 37

Cyber Incident FBI, Office of the The FBI has the designation of federal lead agency for

34 These and other department or agency authorities may be exercised independently of, concurrently with, or become
part of a federal response coordinated by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to Presidential directive. Other
department and agency authorities for specific incidents can be found in the FIOP’s incident annexes.
35 A declaration of a public health emergency may make available any funds appropriated to the Public Health
Emergency Fund.
36 The Commandant of the USCG coordinates the designation of a spill of national significance with the Secretary of
Homeland Security, as appropriate.
37 See ESF #10 – Oil and Hazardous Materials Response Annex for more information on these authorities.

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Scenario Department/Agency Authorities

Director of National
Intelligence (ODNI),
and DHS/CISA

threat response activities (PPD-41). Threat response
activities include the law enforcement and national security
investigation of a cyber incident, including collecting
evidence, linking related incidents, gathering intelligence,
identifying opportunities for threat pursuit and disruption,
and providing attribution. ODNI, through the Cyber Threat
intelligence Integration Center, is the lead federal agency for
intelligence support and related activities. DHS has the
responsibility for asset response activities, such as
providing technical assets and assistance to mitigate
vulnerabilities and reducing the impact of the incident,
identifying and assessing the risk posed to other entities and
mitigating those risks, and providing guidance on how to
leverage federal resources and capabilities (PPD-41). The
Cyber UCG will also include relevant sector-specific
agencies if a cyber incident affects or is likely to affect the
sectors they represent. FEMA maintains the responsibility
for coordinating consequence management for physical
impacts to the population.

When a federal department or agency has responsibility for directing or managing a major aspect of a
response coordinated by the Secretary of Homeland Security, that organization is part of the national
leadership for the incident and is represented in field, regional, and headquarters unified command and
coordination organizations.

F e d e r a l – t o – F e d e r a l S u p p o r t
Federal departments and agencies may execute interagency or intra-agency reimbursable agreements
in accordance with the Economy Act or other applicable authorities. The Financial Management
Support Annex to the NRF contains information about this process. A federal department or agency
responding to an incident under its own authorities may also request support from the Secretary of
Homeland Security in obtaining and coordinating additional federal assistance. The Secretary of
Homeland Security may activate one or more ESFs to provide the requested support.

I n t e r n a t i o n a l S u p p o r t
FEMA, the Department of State, and other Federal agencies use the International Assistance Systems
Concept of Operations to manage the acceptance or request of international resources following a
Stafford Act declaration. The Federal Government may execute a process to “pull” resources from
international partners where the assistance meets known requirements identified by the local, state,
tribal, territorial, insular or Federal officials in the disaster area based on a request from an authorized
Federal response agency for resources that are urgently needed but not available in the United States.
The Federal Government may operate a “push” process when accepting the assistance that addresses
Federal Government diplomatic interests even when foreign assistance has not been requested. The
Federal Government only accepts commodities that can enter the country without significant regulatory
agency oversight or inspection and that can readily be used. FEMA coordinates through the ESFs and
with regulatory agencies to ensure assets are appropriate to be applied to the disaster and meet statutory
or regulatory requirements.

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F e d e r a l R e s p o n s e a n d A s s i s t a n c e A v a i l a b l e W i t h o u t a S t a f f o r d A c t
D e c l a r a t i o n
The NRF covers the full range of complex and constantly changing requirements in anticipation of or
in response to threats or actual incidents. In addition to Stafford Act support, the NRF or other
supplementary or complementary operational plans may be applied to respond or provide other forms
of support. During a non-Stafford Act response:

 The President may designate, and departments and agencies may recommend through the
interagency policy process, an LFA to manage the incident.

 When an LFA is designated, the LFA appoints a senior response official to carry out its
responsibilities employing the NRF, NDRF, and NIMS. The senior response official is the Federal
Government’s senior representative fully dedicated to the response, demonstrates national-level
leadership in a time of crisis, and acts as the face and voice of the Federal response when interacting
with other senior Federal, state, tribal, territorial, or insular, private sector, nongovernmental, and
elected officials as well as the media and the public.

 When directed by the President or requested by an agency head, FEMA’s incident management
capabilities may be used on a reimbursable basis under the Economy Act to support an LFA in
carrying out the aforementioned responsibilities. FEMA may adjust the scale of its support to
ensure execution of its statutory responsibilities.

O p e r a t i o n a l P l a n n i n g
Operational planning is conducted across the whole community, including the private sector, NGOs,
and all levels of government. Operational planning is guided by objectives and priorities identified in
related strategic plans and an understanding of the risks that affect an organization or jurisdiction. The
NRF fosters unity of effort for emergency operations planning by providing common doctrine and
purpose, which integrates both the National Preparedness System and the National Planning System.

Planning is fundamental to national preparedness. Plans are a continuous, evolving instrument of
anticipated actions that maximize opportunities and guide response operations. Because planning is an
ongoing process, a plan is a product based on information and understanding at the moment and is
subject to revision.

The National Planning System provides a unified approach and common terminology for deliberate
and incident action planning. Deliberate planning involves developing strategic, operational, and
tactical plans to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from a
jurisdiction’s threats or hazards. Incident action planning, sometimes referred to as crisis action
planning, occurs in a time-constrained environment to develop or rapidly adapt operational and tactical
plans in response to an imminent or ongoing incident.38

Deliberate plans provide the starting point for incident response and recovery and provide much of the
required information for incident action planning, which is then adapted to meet operational conditions.
The planning process includes a feedback loop for continual refinement of deliberate and incident plans
to more effectively address incident priorities and objectives. Incident plans are continually refined

38 National Planning System, 2016, pages 4 and 5.

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1454504745569-c5234d4556a00eb7b86342c869531ea0/National_Planning_System_20151029.pdf

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throughout an incident, based on emerging operational conditions. Incident plans can also support the
modification and improvement of deliberate plans through after-action and lessons-learned processes.

Response to emergencies and disasters will be most effective when communities conduct risk- and
capability-based planning. Support provided by the National Risk Management Center and tools such
as the

help communities to set risk-based capability targets, evaluate
capability gaps, and develop strategies to build and sustain discrete capabilities. These activities inform
resource investment and allocation, drive deliberate planning efforts focused on the most challenging
risks, and help government and private sector officials understand response and recovery capacities
and identify where mutual aid or other assistance may fill capability gaps.

Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment, Stakeholder Preparedness Review, and
Core Capability Development Sheets

The National Planning System and Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101 provide further
information on the various types of plans and guidance on the fundamentals of planning.

F e d e r a l P l a n n i n g
Federal planning is integrated to align, link, and synchronize response actions to enable federal
departments and agencies and other national-level partners to provide the right resources at the right
time to support local, state, tribal, territorial, and insular area government response operations.
Integrated planning provides answers for which traditional and nontraditional partners can deliver
capabilities that stabilize community lifelines and ultimately support the recovery of the community.

The NRF is based on the concept of tiered response with an understanding that most incidents start at
the local or tribal level, and as needs exceed resources and capabilities, additional local, state, tribal,
territorial, insular area, or federal assets may be required. The FIOP for response and recovery,
therefore, is intended to align with other local, state, tribal, territorial, insular area government, and
federal plans to ensure that all response partners share a common operational focus. Similarly,
integration occurs at the federal level among the departments, agencies, and nongovernmental partners
that compose the respective mission area through the frameworks, FIOPs, and departmental and agency
operations plans.

Figure 6 provides an overview of how federal deliberate planning efforts are aligned under the National
Preparedness System and are mutually supportive in their development, coordination, and use.
Similarly, complementary and mutually supportive plans may be developed by organizations through
incident action planning.

https://www.fema.gov/threat-and-hazard-identification-and-risk-assessment

https://www.fema.gov/core-capability-development-sheets

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Figure 6: Alignment of Planning Efforts with PPD 8 – National Preparedness

A p p l i c a t i o n f o r P l a n n i n g
Implementation of the concepts within the NRF and related FIOP are mandatory for federal
departments and agencies. While the NRF does not direct the actions of other response elements, the
guidance contained in the NRF and the FIOP is intended to inform local, state, tribal, territorial, and
insular area governments, as well as NGOs and the private sector, regarding how the Federal
Government responds to incidents. These partners can use this information to inform their planning
and ensure that assumptions regarding federal assistance and response and the manner in which federal
support will be provided are accurate.

At the federal level, the NRF is supported by the FIOP. Incident annexes to the FIOP address unique
concepts of operations or capabilities for risks not otherwise addressed by the FIOP. The concepts in
the NRF and NIMS guide federal operational response planning and the FIOP, which provides further
information regarding roles and responsibilities and identifies the critical tasks, resourcing, and
sourcing requirements. The NRF does not contain detailed descriptions of specific department or
agency functions because such information is located in department- or agency-level operational plans.
Federal department and agency plans should, at a minimum, address the execution of their roles and
responsibilities in support of the NRF and FIOP to deliver the core capabilities.

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C o n t i n u i t y C o n s i d e r a t i o n s
National preparedness and sustainment of essential functions are a shared responsibility of the whole
community. Continuity considerations should be incorporated into the planning process. Continuity is
not strictly a governmental responsibility, nor is it limited to a specific critical infrastructure sector.
Effective continuity planning helps to ensure the uninterrupted ability to engage partners; to respond
appropriately with scaled, flexible, and adaptable operational capabilities; to specify succession to
office and delegations of authority to protect the unity of effort and command; and to account for the
availability of responders, regardless of the threat or hazard.39

Ensuring the continuity of community lifeline operations is a critical part of responding to a disaster.
Continuity planning and operations increase the likelihood of uninterrupted coordination across
jurisdictions, levels of government, and the private sector, particularly during catastrophic incidents.
For example, effective response operations require the operability, interoperability, and continuity of
communications. The National Emergency Communications Plan provides the whole community with
a strategic plan that establishes a shared vision for and coordinates the complex mission of maintaining
and improving emergency communications capabilities.

Continuity considerations, including community lifeline interdependencies, should be built into all
plans and guidance and supported by leadership at all levels. Without the implementation of continuity
principles, private sector organizations and governments at all levels may be unable to provide services
and sustainment of community lifelines when needed the most.

S u p p o r t i n g R e s o u r c e s
To assist NRF users, FEMA maintains electronic versions of the current NRF documents—the base
document, ESF annexes, and support annexes—as well as other supporting materials. FEMA also
provides information, training materials, and other tools, such as an overview of the main Stafford Act
provisions, a guide to authorities and references, and an abbreviations list to assist response partners
in understanding and executing their roles under the NRF. Materials are regularly evaluated, updated,
and augmented, as necessary. Additional content may be added or modified at the request of response
mission area partners and other users.

M a i n t e n a n c e
The NRF is a living document, and it will be regularly reviewed to evaluate consistency with existing
and new policies, evolving conditions, and the experience gained from its use. Reviews will be
conducted in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the NRF on a quadrennial basis.

DHS will coordinate and oversee the review and maintenance process for the NRF. The revision
process includes developing or updating documents necessary to carry out capabilities. Significant
updates to the NRF will be vetted through a federal senior-level interagency review process. The NRF
will be reviewed in order to accomplish the following:

 Assess and update information on the core capabilities in support of response goals and objectives;
 Ensure that the NRF adequately reflects the organization of responsible entities;
 Ensure that the NRF is consistent with the other four mission areas;
 Update processes based on changes in the national threat/hazard environment;

39 For more information on continuity considerations, see https://www.fema.gov/continuity-guidance-circular-cgc.

https://www.fema.gov/continuity-guidance-circular-cgc

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 Incorporate lessons-learned and effective practices from day-to-day operations, exercises, and
actual incidents and alerts; and

 Reflect progress in the Nation’s response mission activities the need to execute new laws,
Executive orders, and Presidential directives, as well as strategic changes to national priorities and
guidance, critical tasks, or national capabilities.

In reviewing the implementation of the NRF, FEMA will consider effective practices and lessons-
learned from exercises and operations, as well as pertinent new processes and technologies. Effective
practices include continuity planning, which ensures that the capabilities contained in the NRF can
continue to be executed, regardless of the threat or hazard. Pertinent new processes and technologies
should enable the Nation to adapt efficiently to the evolving risk environment and use data relating to
location, context, and interdependencies that allow for effective integration across all missions using a
standards-based approach. Updates to the NRF annexes may occur independently from reviews of the
base document.

C o n c l u s i o n
In implementing the NRF to build national preparedness and resilience, partners are encouraged to
develop a shared understanding of broad-level strategic implications as they make critical decisions in
building future capacity and capability. The whole community should be engaged in examining and
implementing the strategy and doctrine contained in the NRF, considering current and future
requirements in the process.

The whole community remains firm in its commitment to safeguard itself against its greatest risks, now
and in the future. Through whole community engagement, the Nation will continue to improve its
preparedness to face all emergencies or disaster challenges that may unfold.

Introduction
Evolution of the Framework
Framework Purpose and Organization
Scope
Intended Audience
Guiding Principles
Engaged Partnership
Tiered Response
Scalable, Flexible, and Adaptable Operational Capabilities
Unity of Effort Through Unified Command
Readiness To Act

Foundational Components
Prioritized Stabilization of Community Lifelines
National Incident Management System
Mutual Aid

Core Capabilities
Community Lifeline Stabilization and the Core Capabilities
Integration Among Mission Areas

Operational Coordination
Private Sector Engagement
Private Sector Coordinating Structures

Locally Executed Response
Local Coordinating Structures

State, Tribal, Territorial, and Insular Area Managed Response
State, Territorial, and Insular Area Coordinating Structures
Tribal Managed Response

Federally Supported Response
Federal Incident-level Operations
Unified Coordination
Emergency Support Functions as a Coordinating Structure
Incidents Without a Stafford Act Declaration

Federal Regional Operational Support
Federal Regional Facilities

Federal Headquarters Operational Support
Federal Operations Centers
National Security Council

Roles and Responsibilities for Response
Communities
Private Sector
Individuals, Families, and Households
Nongovernmental Organizations

Local Government
Chief Elected or Appointed Official
Local Emergency Manager
Other Local Departments and Agencies

State, Tribal, Territorial, and Insular Area Government
States
Governor
State Homeland Security Adviser
State Emergency Management Agency Director
National Guard
Other State Departments and Agencies

Tribes
Chief Executive

Territorial and Insular Area Governments
Territorial/Insular Area Leader

Federal Government
Secretary of Homeland Security
FEMA Administrator
Attorney General
Secretary of Defense
Secretary of State
Director of National Intelligence
Emergency Support Function Roles and Responsibilities
Other Federal Department and Agency Heads

Federal Authorities
Federal Response and Assistance Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act
Federal Departments and Agencies Acting Under Their Own Authorities
Federal-to-Federal Support
International Support
Federal Response and Assistance Available Without a Stafford Act Declaration

Operational Planning
Federal Planning
Application for Planning
Continuity Considerations

Supporting Resources
Maintenance

Conclusion