Introduction to the Basic Plan of the Federal Response Plan, April 1999
In PDF format
Updated: June 3, 1999
The Federal Response Plan (FRP) establishes a process and structure for the
systematic, coordinated, and effective delivery of Federal assistance to address
the consequences of any major disaster or emergency declared under the Robert
T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended (42 U.S.C.
5121, et seq.). The FRP:
- Sets forth fundamental policies, planning assumptions, a concept of
operations, response and recovery actions, and Federal agency responsibilities;
- Describes the array of Federal response, recovery, and mitigation resources
available to augment State and local efforts to save lives; protect public
health, safety, and property; and aid affected individuals and communities
in rebuilding after a disaster;
- Organizes the types of Federal response assistance that a State is
most likely to need under 12 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs), each
of which has a designated primary agency;
- Describes the process and methodology for implementing and managing
Federal recovery and mitigation programs and support/technical services;
- Addresses linkages to other Federal emergency operations plans developed
for specific incidents;
- Provides a focus for interagency and intergovernmental emergency preparedness,
planning, training, exercising, coordination, and information exchange;
- Serves as the foundation for the development of detailed supplemental
plans and procedures to implement Federal response and recovery activities
rapidly and efficiently.
- The FRP concepts apply to a major disaster or emergency as defined
under the Stafford Act, which includes a natural catastrophe; fire, flood,
or explosion regardless of cause; or any other occasion or instance for
which the President determines that Federal assistance is needed to supplement
State and local efforts and capabilities. Throughout the FRP, any
reference to a disaster, major disaster, or emergency generally means
a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency under the Stafford
- The FRP covers the full range of complex and constantly changing requirements
following a disaster: saving lives, protecting property, and meeting basic
human needs (response); restoring the disaster-affected area (recovery);
and reducing vulnerability to future disasters (mitigation). The
FRP does not specifically address long-term reconstruction and redevelopment.
- The FRP applies to all signatory Federal departments and independent
agencies that may be tasked to provide assistance in a major disaster
or emergency. Additionally, the American Red Cross functions as
a Federal agency in coordinating the use of Federal mass care resources
in a presidentially declared disaster or emergency. For purposes
of the FRP, any reference to Federal agencies with respect to their responsibilities
and activities in responding to a disaster generally means Federal departments
and agencies, as well as the American Red Cross.
- Under the FRP, a State means any State of the United States, the District
of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and
the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Two former trust
territories (but now independent countries) also are deemed eligible for
assistance under the Compact of Free Association — the Republic of the
Marshall Islands (until October 21, 2001) and the Federated States of
Micronesia (until November 3, 2001).
- Relationships with any federally recognized American Indian or Alaska
Native Tribe are on a government-to-government basis. Federal agencies
acknowledge the importance of an nteragency/intergovernmental/tribal partnership
to improve access to disaster assistance. Although a State Governor
must request a Presidential disaster declaration on behalf of a tribe
under the Stafford Act, Federal agencies subsequently can work directly
with the tribe, within existing authorities and resources, to tailor disaster
programs to its unique needs.
- National Disaster Response Framework
- The combined emergency management authorities, policies, procedures,
and resources of local, State, and Federal governments as well as voluntary
disaster relief organizations, the private sector, and international sources
constitute a national disaster response framework for providing assistance
following a major disaster or emergency. This framework is illustrated
in Figure 1.
- Within this framework, the Federal Government can provide personnel,
equipment, supplies, facilities, and managerial, technical, and advisory
services in support of State and local disaster assistance efforts.
Various Federal statutory authorities and policies establish the bases
for providing these resources. (The Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) has compiled a separate compendium of Legal Authorities
Supporting the Federal Response Plan that lists emergency response and
recovery-related directives, together with a summary interpretation of
each legal citation.)
- Under the Stafford Act and Executive Orders 12148, Federal Emergency
Management, and 12656, Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities,
FEMA has been delegated primary responsibility for coordinating Federal
emergency preparedness, planning, management, and disaster assistance
functions. FEMA also has been delegated responsibility for establishing
Federal disaster assistance policy. In this stewardship role, FEMA
has the lead in developing and maintaining the FRP.
- The FRP describes the structure for organizing, coordinating, and mobilizing
Federal resources to augment State and local response efforts under the
Stafford Act and its implementing regulations that appear in 44 CFR 206.
The FRP also may be used in conjunction with Federal agency emergency
operations plans developed under other statutory authorities as well as
memorandums of understanding (MOUs) among various Federal agencies.
- In particular, the FRP may be implemented concurrently with the:
- National Plan for Telecommunications Support in Non-Wartime Emergencies,
which provides a basis for ESF #2 — Communications
- National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan,
known as the National Contingency Plan (NCP), which provides the basis
for ESF #10 — Hazardous Materials operations;
- Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan (FRERP), which details
the Federal response to a peacetime radiological emergency.
- The FRP also may be implemented in response to the consequences of
terrorism, in accordance with Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39)
and PDD-62 that set forth U.S. counterterrorism policy. The FRP
Terrorism Incident Annex describes the concept
of operations for a unified response to a terrorism incident involving
two or more of the following plans: the FRP, the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI) Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Incident Contingency
Plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health and Medical
Services Support Plan for the Federal Response to Acts of Chemical/Biological
Terrorism, the NCP, and the FRERP.
- The FRP is implemented through regional supplements developed by FEMA
and other Federal agency regional offices describing specific actions,
operating locations, and relationships to address the unique needs of
the region and States within the region. From time to time, an operations
supplement to the FRP may be issued to address special events that merit
advanced planning, such as the Olympics or Presidential inaugurations.
- The FRP is further implemented through various operations manuals,
field operations guides, and job aids that detail specific agency actions
to be taken.
- States, along with their local jurisdictions, have their own emergency
operations plans describing who will do what, when, and with what resources.
In addition, many voluntary, private, and international organizations
have emergency or contingency plans. These planning relationships
are shown in Figure 2.
- While the FRP focuses primarily on operational planning specific to
an incident, other types of planning also are critical to ensuring effective
disaster operations. Pre-incident planning at all levels of government
is used to identify operating facilities and resources that might be needed
in response and recovery. Action planning, conducted throughout
a disaster, establishes priorities with tactical objectives for the next
operational period. Contingency planning assists in targeting a
specific issue or event arising during the course of a disaster and presents
alternative actions to respond to the situation. Strategic planning
is used to identify long-term issues such as impact of forecasts and problems
such as permanent housing for displaced disaster victims. It also
can serve as a blueprint for rebuilding after a disaster.
- Organization of the FRP
The FRP consists of the following sections as shown in
- The Basic Plan presents the policies and concept of operations that
guide how the Federal Government will assist disaster-stricken State and
local governments. It also summarizes Federal planning assumptions,
response and recovery actions, and responsibilities.
- Emergency Support Function Annexes describe
the mission, policies, concept of operations, and responsibilities of
the primary and support agencies involved in the implementation of key
response functions that supplement State and local activities. ESFs
include Transportation, Communications,
Public Works and Engineering, Firefighting,
Information and Planning, Mass
Care, Resource Support, Health
and Medical Services, Urban Search and Rescue,
Hazardous Materials, Food,
- The Recovery Function Annex describes the
policies, planning considerations, and concept of operations that guide
the provision of assistance to help disaster victims and affected communities
return to normal and minimize the risk of future damage. Assistance
is categorized by delivery system — either to individuals, families, and
businesses or to State and local governments. (Note: A separate
annex describing mitigation as a concept and a program is being developed.)
- Support Annexes describe the mission, policies,
and concept of operations of related activities required to conduct overall
Federal disaster operations, including Community
Relations, Congressional Affairs, Donations
Management, Financial Management, Logistics
Management, Occupational Safety and Health,
and Public Affairs.
- Incident Annexes describe the mission, policies,
concept of operations, and responsibilities in those specific events that
require a unified response under the FRP and one or more other Federal
plans that implement authorities and functions outside the scope of the
Stafford Act. The Terrorism Incident Annex
is the first in a series of anticipated incident annexes.
- Appendices cover other relevant information,
including terms and definitions, acronyms
and abbreviations, guidelines for FRP changes
and revision, and overview of a disaster operation.