Emergency Support Function #2
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||National Communications System
||Department of Agriculture
||Department of Commerce
||Department of Defense
||Department of the Interior
||Federal Communications Commission
||Federal Emergency Management Agency
||General Services Administration
Emergency Support Function (ESF) #2 — Communications ensures the provision
of Federal telecommunications support to Federal, State, and local response
efforts following a presidentially declared major disaster, emergency, or
extraordinary situation under the Federal Response Plan (FRP). This
ESF supplements the provisions of the National Plan for Telecommunications
Support in Non-Wartime Emergencies, hereafter referred to as the National
Telecommunications Support Plan (NTSP).
ESF #2 coordinates Federal actions to be taken to provide the required
national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) telecommunications
support to Federal, State, and local disaster response elements. This
ESF will coordinate the establishment of required temporary NS/EP telecommunications
and the restoration of permanent telecommunications. Where appropriate,
services may be furnished under provisions of the Telecommunications Service
Priority (TSP) system. ESF #2 applies to all Federal departments and
agencies that may require telecommunications services or whose telecommunications
assets may be employed during a disaster response.
- The NTSP serves as a basis for planning and use of national telecommunications
assets and resources in support of the provisions of the Robert T. Stafford
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The NTSP is issued by
the Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Executive
Office of the President, in accordance with National Security Council policy
direction, and is applicable to all Federal agencies.
- The NTSP contains the authority for the National Communications System
(NCS) to develop plans and coordinate and manage telecommunications support
for Federal organizations in nonwartime emergencies. This authority
is derived from Executive Order 12472, Assignment of National Security and
Emergency Preparedness Telecommunications Functions, April 3, 1984.
- In the letter of agreement between OSTP and the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) dated June 7, 1995, OSTP states that the Office of the Manager,
NCS, will execute FRP primary agency functional responsibilities on its
- Disaster Condition
- A disaster condition may result from a significant natural disaster,
nuclear accident, or any other incident that causes extensive damage and/or
results in a high volume of requests from all levels of government authority
for services required to save lives and alleviate human suffering.
These authorities require accurate and timely information on which to
base decisions and guide response actions. Concurrently, commercial
telecommunications facilities may sustain widespread damage. At
a time when the need for real-time electronically processed information
is greatest, the capability to acquire it may be seriously restricted
or nonexistent. In such situations, all surviving telecommunications
assets of the various levels of government, augmented by extra-regional
assets, will be needed immediately to ensure a proper response to the
needs of victims of the event.
- When activated, ESF #2 will coordinate and support NS/EP telecommunications
requirements across the emergency continuum.
- Planning Assumptions
- Initially, State and local government officials focus on coordinating
lifesaving activities concurrent with reestablishing control in the disaster
area. Working with the telecommunications industry, these officials
will restore and reconstruct telecommunications facilities as the situation
- Initial damage reports may be fragmented and provide an incomplete
picture concerning the extent of damage to telecommunications facilities.
- Weather and other environmental factors may restrict the ability of
suppliers to deploy mobile or transportable telecommunications equipment
into the affected area.
- The affected region’s ability to communicate with the rest of the country
may be impaired. Some key individuals may be isolated from their
regional offices and/or operational centers.
- The type of disaster and the potential for related disasters will require
the careful consideration of a site for establishing a Disaster Field
Office (DFO) in the least vulnerable location supportable by available
- Concept of Operations
During an emergency, the following guidelines will be observed to allow
ESF #2 to meet its disaster response responsibilities:
- Telecommunications management will occur on a bottom-up basis; decisions
will be made at the lowest level, with only those issues requiring adjudication
or additional resources being referred to the next higher management level.
FEMA’s Telecommunications Information Management and Control System (TIMACS)
will be used for Stafford Act expenditures for telecommunications support.
- Uniform emergency telecommunications management and operational plans,
procedures, and handbooks will be used throughout the entire ESF #2 operating
- The Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) has overall responsibility
for the coordination of telecommunications support in the response area.
When General Services Administration (GSA) assistance is requested during
a disaster response, a Federal Emergency Communications Coordinator (FECC)
is appointed. The FECC prioritizes conflicting requests and recommends
solutions to the FCO.
- FEMA controls its communications assets, i.e., Mobile Air Transportable
Telecommunications System/Mobile Emergency Response Support (MATTS/MERS),
in the disaster area but coordinates their use with the FECC. Other
agencies that provide telecommunications assets in support of the disaster
response also would control their organic assets, but would coordinate
their use with the FECC.
- The FECC will be the telecommunications industry’s single Federal point
of contact (POC) in the disaster area for Federal telecommunications requirements
and will coordinate industry’s response. The FECC will coordinate
with the State telecommunications officer to ensure that Federal communications
requirements do not conflict with State needs.
- Organizational Structure
(After a Presidentially Declared Disaster Response Requiring the Appointment
of an FECC)
- National-Level Response Structure
Response operations for a major disaster will normally begin when the
FRP is implemented. FEMA will selectively activate ESFs based on
the nature and scope of the event and the Federal resources required to
support State and local responses.
National-level ESF #2 operations will normally commence at the same time
that the ESF #2 position on the Emergency Support Team (EST) is activated
under the FRP. The EST, which comprises representatives from all
the ESFs, is located at FEMA Headquarters. Once notified of a disaster,
the National Coordinating Center (NCC) for Telecommunications staff assesses
anticipated/actual damage, identifies NS/EP service requirements, prioritizes
requirements, monitors the developing situation/response, renders status
reports, and coordinates service provisioning and restoration as required.
The NCC staff makes assessments based on reports from the FECC and NCC
industry representatives, who coordinate with their parent company emergency
operations centers (EOCs). The Manager, NCC, appoints ESF #2 representatives
to the EST, providing for 24-hour coverage if required. If the Catastrophic
Disaster Response Group (CDRG) is convened to address priority issues,
the Deputy Manager, NCS, will represent ESF #2 at such meetings.
The Manager, NCS, may dispatch an NCS Disaster Area Liaison Officer (DALO)
to the disaster site to assist the FECC in coordinating national-level
telecommunications support to the disaster response. The FECC also
may request the deployment of an NCS DALO through the Manager, NCS.
FEMA will dispatch an agency representative to the disaster area to assist
in coordinating FEMA’s telecommunications support.
- Regional-Level Response Structure
For a major disaster, the FCO will request the appointment of an FECC.
GSA will ensure that a qualified person capable of performing the required
functions is identified (that person could be the GSA Regional Emergency
Services Communications Planner (RECP) who serves as NCS Regional Manager
for that region). The FECC will deploy to the scene of a presidentially
declared disaster as the principal Federal telecommunications manager in
the disaster area. The FECC will normally deploy to the affected State
EOC as part of the Advance Element of the Emergency Response Team (ERT-A)
and will assist ESF #7 — Resource Support in
selecting a DFO site. FEMA will provide an agency representative to
assist in coordinating FEMA’s telecommunications support in the setup of
the DFO. Federal disaster response operations are coordinated from
the Regional Operations Center (ROC) until the DFO is operational, which
is normally a period of 48 to 96 hours. The FECC deploys to the disaster
area and works with FEMA communications personnel to establish telecommunications
services for the DFO. At the DFO, the FECC is assisted by the Emergency
Communications Staff (ECS), a group of government and industry telecommunications
managers trained in emergency response and DFO operations. Conflicts
over priorities and/or resources that cannot be resolved by the FCO and
FECC will be passed to the CDRG and, if still not resolved, to the Joint
Telecommunications Resources Board (JTRB).
- Notification Procedures
The NCC is always available to assist industry and Federal response operations
during day-to-day planning and coordination of national telecommunications
support, including disaster response activities. If ESF #2 is activated,
FEMA will notify the Manager, NCC, immediately. The Manager, NCC,
will then alert all NCC personnel and assume national-level coordination
of telecommunications assets as necessary. During nonduty hours,
the National Communications System/Defense Information Systems Agency-Global
Operations Security Center (NCS/DISA-GOSC) will alert the Manager, NCC,
who will direct that an NCC Initial Response Team (IRT) be formed to assess
Immediately upon receipt of information about the disaster or emergency
and upon notification of any FRP activation, the NCC will contact FEMA
for information and guidance on the situation and ongoing response planning,
and coordinate ESF #2 response preparations. If the Manager, NCC,
determines that an FECC will be activated, the Manager will notify the
appropriate GSA Regional Emergency Coordinator (REC) that FEMA has requested
an FECC. The GSA REC will notify the appropriate GSA regional office
to activate the FECC.
The FECC will coordinate with the Manager, NCC, to request Individual
Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) support.
- Response Actions
- Initial Actions
- Immediately upon notification of a disaster, the Manager, NCC, will
begin gathering damage assessment data from the NCC government and industry
representatives. The Manager, NCC, in coordination with FEMA and
GSA, will determine the appropriate level of response for national-level
ESF #2 elements. The initial focus of the NCC will be to identify:
- Operational telecommunications assets available for use within
the affected area;
- Telecommunications assets not within the affected area that may
be brought physically or employed electronically to support the affected
- Actual and planned actions of the commercial telecommunications
companies toward recovery and reconstruction of their facilities.
- The FECC will determine the ESF #2 regional and disaster area response
requirements with the applicable FEMA Regional Director.
- Until the FECC and the ECS are deployed and operational, FEMA communications
staff will accumulate damage information obtained from the FEMA Regional
Director, other Federal agencies, and industry sources. Additionally,
FEMA communications staff may make initial estimates of the level of
Federal telecommunications support that may be required. This
information will be provided to the FECC upon arrival in the affected
area. The FECC will also receive a status report on the telecommunications
situation, Federal telecommunications assets that have arrived in the
disaster area, telecommunications services provided, and any open telecommunications
- The ECS will be organized in the disaster area and expanded as necessary
by drawing on experienced personnel from unaffected areas.
- NCC personnel, in coordination with the FECC, will begin an inventory
of Federal communications assets available to support the recovery mission.
Federal agencies with communications assets may be asked to contribute
these assets to the response effort. The Manager, NCC, will be
kept informed of these assets and their status.
- Potential NCC actions include the following:
- Obtaining the location of the proposed DFO;
- Obtaining the latest weather report for the area, including present
conditions, the 24-hour forecast, and the long-range forecast;
- Obtaining information from ESF #1 — Transportation
about road, rail, and all transportation conditions in the area and
whether they can be used to get mobile telecommunications systems
into the area; and
- Determining from FEMA and/or ESF #7
the location of possible sources of secondary response facilities
in the disaster area, e.g., staging areas, satellite DFOs.
- The FECC, when activated, will assess the need for mobile and transportable
telecommunications equipment. The FECC, through the NCC, may request
NCS member organizations to identify assets for possible deployment.
- The NCC, in coordination with the FECC, will assess the need for
telecommunications industry support and ensure that such support is
available as needed.
- Continuing Actions
- The FECC will prepare and process any required reports.
- The representatives of the NCS member organizations that have been
tasked to provide assets will confirm to the NCC that those assets have
been prepared for movement to the disaster area, as and when needed,
and will report when they have been deployed and have become operational.
- The FECC, assisted by the ECS, will:
- Coordinate Federal telecommunications support to responding Federal
agencies, State and local governments, and quasi-governmental and
voluntary relief organizations as directed by the FCO;
- Recommend release of Federal telecommunications resources when
they are no longer required; and
- Maintain a record for audit of all telecommunications support provided.
NCS member organizations’ procedures will be used to accomplish this
- The NCC will provide damage information to the EST ESF #2 representative
and the FECC regularly, and to other Federal agencies upon request.
- Requests for telecommunications support will come from many sources.
The FECC will forward unresolved requests to the NCC. When the
allocation of telecommunications resources cannot be resolved by the
NCC to the satisfaction of the parties involved, the issues will be
presented to the CDRG and then, if necessary, to the JTRB for resolution.
- The NCC develops and promulgates information collection guidelines
and procedures to enhance assessment, allocation, and coordination of
government and industry telecommunications assets.
- Primary Agency: National Communications
- The Manager, NCS, will ensure the provision of adequate telecommunications
support to Federal response operations. The Manager, NCS, through
the NCC, will provide information and assistance to the JTRB as required.
- The Manager, NCS, is responsible for:
- Supporting the JTRB as required in accordance with standard operating
procedures issued by the Director, OSTP;
- Ensuring that all information regarding potential and/or actual emergency
situations with significant telecommunications implications is brought
to the attention of the Director, OSTP;
- Coordinating response activities with FEMA, GSA, and other JTRB member
- Monitoring the status of crucial situations that have the potential
for developing into a major disaster, emergency, or extraordinary situation,
and those that may require emergency telecommunications support;
- Coordinating with ESF #12 — Energy regarding
telecommunications industry requests for support under the Electric
Service Priority (ESP) initiative, emergency fuel resupply, and safe
access for telecommunications work crews into disaster areas;
- Supporting the ESP initiative by providing updated data to and from
the Department of Energy and the participating telecommunications companies;
- Monitoring the recovery efforts and, as required, coordinating the
provision of telecommunications needed by the Federal Government;
- Providing situation status to the JTRB as required;
- Appointing an NCS Disaster Area Liaison Officer to provide on-site
assistance to the FECC in coordinating national-level telecommunications
support in the disaster area; and
- Activating IMAs to support disaster responses at the DFO, regional,
and national levels.
- The Manager, NCC, is responsible for:
- Monitoring the status of crucial situations that have the potential
for developing into a major disaster, emergency, or extraordinary situation
to determine that adequate NS/EP telecommunications services are being
provided to support response operations;
- Assessing the impact on existing Federal Government NS/EP telecommunications
- Coordinating the restoration and/or rerouting of existing Federal
Government NS/EP telecommunications services and the provisioning of
new NS/EP telecommunications services;
- Coordinating with telecommunications service providers and prioritizing
requirements as necessary when providers are unable to satisfy all telecommunications
service requirements, when there are conflicts between multiple FECCs,
or when the allocation of available resources cannot be fully accomplished
at the field level;
- Coordinating, when requested by the FECC, with NCS member organizations
to obtain additional telecommunications specialists to augment the ECS;
- Coordinating with Federal agencies those special telecommunications
industry requests for assistance that support NS/EP activities, including
support under the ESP initiative, emergency fuel resupply, and safe
access for telecommunications work crews into disaster areas; and
- Coordinating with appropriate government and industry representatives
in support of FECC requests to meet user requirements for cellular phone
- Support Agencies
- ESF #2 support agency representatives will be aware of their parent
organizations’ capabilities to provide mobile or transportable resources
for telecommunications activities.
- Any agency having substantial communications assets in the disaster
area should have representation on the ECS.
- Agencies will coordinate required connection to commercial or government
telecommunications resources through the FECC.
- The agencies listed below provide the indicated support to ESF #2 efforts
under the FRP.
- Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
- Provide radio communications systems for support of firefighters,
law enforcement officers, and disaster response operations;
- Provide engineers, technical personnel, and liaison staff to assist
the ECS and to maintain the National Interagency Radio Support systems;
- Provide National Interagency Radio Support systems for use by damage
reconnaissance teams to report information from the disaster area
to the DFO, and such other applications as determined by the radio
- Provide a communications officer to accompany radio systems for
the purpose of user training and operator maintenance indoctrination;
- Provide additional radio systems required for the establishment
of a DFO radio net.
- Department of Commerce
- National Telecommunications and Information Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather
- Develop plans and procedures concerning radio spectrum assignments,
priorities, and allocations for use by Federal agencies;
- Develop, maintain, and publish policy, plans, and procedures
for the control and assignment of radio frequencies, including the
authority to amend, modify, or revoke such assignments, in those
parts of the electromagnetic spectrum allocated to the Federal Government;
- Maintain and publish the Emergency Readiness Plan for Use of
the Radio Spectrum.
Provide public dissemination of critical pre- and postevent information
over the all-hazards National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Weather Radio (NWR) system, the NOAA Weather Wire Service, and the Emergency
Managers’ Weather Information Network (EMWIN).
Department of Defense
Provide assistance in civil emergencies in accordance with national policies,
consistent with defense priorities as set forth in the Department of Defense
(DOD) Directive 3025.1, Military Support to Civil Authorities. The
Secretary of Defense has designated the Secretary of the Army as the executive
agent for DOD support to civil emergencies.
Department of the Interior
Provide radio and radio-telephone systems from assets not required to
meet Department of the Interior emergency missions.
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Review the policies, plans, and procedures that are developed by
all entities licensed or regulated by the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) to provide NS/EP telecommunications services to ensure that
such policies, plans, and procedures are consistent with the public
interest, convenience, and necessity; and
- Perform such functions as required by law with respect to all entities
licensed or regulated by the FCC, including (but not limited to) the
extension, discontinuance, or reduction of common-carrier facilities
or services; the control of common-carrier rates, charges, practices,
and classifications; the construction authorization, activation, deactivation,
or closing of radio stations, services, and facilities; the assignment
of radio frequencies to FCC licensees; the investigation of violations
of pertinent law and regulation; and the initiation of appropriate
General Services Administration
- Provide a representative(s) to serve on the FECC’s staff to coordinate
the employment of FEMA’s telecommunications assets, including MATTS/MERS,
in the disaster area; coordinate FEMA requests for telephone service
and connectivity; and provide expertise on MATTS/MERS and FEMA networks;
- Coordinate the establishment of telecommunications support in the
DFO with the FECC;
- Install computers and local area networks at the DFO as required;
- Provide radio equipment and other organic telecommunications support;
- Provide communications support to State and local officials to
assist in disseminating warnings to the populace concerning risks
- Provide frequency management and site engineering expertise to
- Provide representation on the ECS and coordinate FEMA resources
and TSP requests with the FECC; and
- Provide video teleconference expertise to the ECS.
- Each Regional Administrator, GSA, will ensure that a GSA RECP who
will serve as an NCS Regional Manager (NCSRM) and FECC, is identified
for each of the 10 standard Federal regions. The Regional Administrator
will authorize the GSA RECP/NCSRM to accept guidance from the FEMA
Regional Director during the predeployment phase of a telecommunications
emergency. National-level guidance will be provided by the GSA
Federal Telecommunications Service (FTS) Emergency Communications
Coordinator. The Regional Administrator will authorize the GSA
RECP/NCSRM or designated alternate(s) to perform the functions of
the FECC upon request by the FCO or senior Federal official.
- The GSA RECP/NCSRM will prepare and maintain a Regional Support
Plan for each designated standard Federal region, coordinating plan
development with counterpart GSA RECP/NCSRMs in contiguous regions.
The GSA RECP/NCSRM will supervise the training of potential FECCs
within the assigned region.
- When requested, the FECC will deploy to the scene of a presidentially
declared major disaster, emergency, or extraordinary situation to
survey the status of telecommunications and to determine residual
capabilities and the extent of damage within the affected area.
The FECC will coordinate with other Federal agencies to determine
their emergency telecommunications service requirements.
- When activated, the FECC will:
Other Federal Agencies
- Accumulate damage information obtained from the FEMA Regional
Director, the NCC, other Federal agencies, and industry sources
and conduct telecommunications status evaluations;
- Advise the FCO on all telecommunications matters;
- Act as the single government POC in the disaster area for industry,
for all telecommunications requests and actions;
- Assess the need for mobile or transportable equipment;
- Release Federal telecommunications resources as soon as commercial
carrier services can support the response mission;
- Coordinate with Federal, State, and local organizations, and
the major voluntary relief organizations as well as other ESFs involved
with disaster recovery, to ascertain their telecommunications requirements;
- Ensure that required services are provided in support of the
Federal disaster response and recovery effort;
- Coordinate the distribution of cellular phone assets by appropriate
government and industry representatives in support of user requirements;
- Assemble and lead the ECS;
- Maintain an audit trail of all telecommunications support provided;
- Prioritize telecommunications requirements;
- Ensure that an ESF #2 representative is deployed to support the
- Coordinate frequency management for the disaster area to include
frequencies used by deployed military assets;
- Coordinate the use of military telecommunications assets;
- Coordinate TSP requests;
- Ensure that ESF #2 representatives are provided to support damage
- Provide an ESF #2 representative to support the ERT-A;
- Coordinate telecommunications support to the disaster mobilization
center as necessary; and
- Prepare and process any required reports.
- NCS member organizations will be prepared to assist the Manager,
NCS, in the deployment and use of agency-owned/leased or otherwise
unique telecommunications assets to support the response effort.
- All other Federal agencies will:
- Use organizational resources to meet their mission requirements
before requesting that the FECC obtain emergency telecommunications
- Notify the FECC promptly of all telecommunications requirements
and available assets. This will eliminate the possibility
of service duplications and ensure prompt provision of needed services
and facilities to the proper user;
- Coordinate with the FECC when telecommunications support (other
than that provided or already coordinated through the FECC) has
been requested by a representative of an organization at a disaster
- Coordinate any requests for commercial or government telecommunications
resources through the FECC;
- Coordinate with the NCC as necessary for any required national-level
- Notify the FECC promptly when their telecommunications resources
are to be withdrawn or discontinued; and
- Notify the FECC when telecommunications resources provided by
the FECC are no longer required.
Updated: June 3, 1999
- Executive Order 12472, Assignment of National Security and Emergency
Preparedness Telecommunications Functions, April 3, 1984.
- National Plan for Telecommunications Support in Non-Wartime Emergencies,
Office of Science and Technology Policy, January 1992.
- Department of Defense Directive 3025.1, Military Support to Civil Authorities,
January 15, 1993.
- Office of Science and Technology Policy Letter of Agreement with the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, June 7, 1995.