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Emergency Planning at the Local Government Level

This page provides information and resources for Washington local governments on the emergency management policies and procedures that are mandated or recommended by federal and state law, including examples of local plans and policies.

It is part a series of MRSC's series on Emergency Management and Disaster Planning.

Local Emergency Management Plans

All cities, towns, and counties in Washington State are required to establish an emergency management organization and develop an up-to-date comprehensive emergency management plan (CEMP), or to participate in a joint emergency management organization and CEMP.

For more information, including examples of CEMPs and emergency management interlocal agreements, see our page on Local Emergency Management Organizations and CEMPs.

Emergency Planning Resources

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Citizen Preparedness

Other Resources

Emergency Planning Topics

National Incident Management System (NIMS)

  • The National Incident Management System (NIMS) was developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide a system that would help emergency managers and responders from different jurisdictions and disciplines work together more effectively to handle emergencies and disasters. All Washington cities and counties needed to formally adopt the National Incident Management System (NIMS) by September 30, 2005 through an ordinance, resolution, or proclamation.

Continuity of Operations (COOP)

Continuity of Government (COG)

Personnel - Reporting to Work in Declared Emergency

Assessment of Planning

Proclaiming a Disaster or Emergency


Policies and Ordinance Provisions

  • Poulsbo Municipal Code Ch. 2.60 - Emergency Proclamations
  • San Juan County Code Sec. 2.48.100 - Disaster Declarations
  • Spokane Municipal Code Ch. 2.04 - Civil Emergencies
  • Vancouver Municipal Code Ch. 2.12 - Emergency Management

Local Government Proclamations

Below are a few examples of local emergency or disaster declarations in recent years.

Snow, Ice, Winter Storms

  • Lacey Resolution No. 981 (2012) - Emergency due to snow and ice; resolution self-terminates after 30 days unless extended or terminated earlier by council
  • Port Angeles Resolution No. 1-06 (2006) - Declaring emergency due to severe winds, waves, high tides, and rainfall, and authorizes mayor and city manager to request state or federal assistance
  • Whatcom County Proclamation of Emergency (2017) - County executive's declaration of emergency due to winter storms and heavy snow, requesting state assistance
  • Wilbur Resolution No. 355 (2009) - Emergency due to extreme snow and possibility of flooding
  • Woodland Resolution No. 569 (2009) - Council’s declaration of emergency due to heavy snowfall, heavy rains, and warming temperatures. Also includes mayor’s declaration of civil emergency and delegation of authority to incident management team.

Drought, Wildfires

  • Grandview Water Emergency Proclamation No. 2001-03 (2001)
  • Kittitas County Resolution No. 2017-143 (2017) - Declares emergency due to a fire threatening structures, activates emergency operation center, and requires overtime and other records to be submitted to county auditor at conclusion of emergency
  • Port Townsend Ordinance No. 3131 (2015) - Declares emergency due to drought, possible water shortages, and fire hazard. Authorizes city manager to implement drought response plan, water conservation measures, and fire hazard abatement


  • Des Moines Executive Order Proclaiming an Emergency (2001) - City manager's declaration of emergency following the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, authorizing department directors to take necessary actions.

Obtaining Services, Supplies and Materials

  • Emergencies in The County Bidding Book for Washington, Municipal Research and Services Center Report No. 56, Revised, 2014
  • Emergencies in The Bidding Book for Washington Cities and Towns, Municipal Research and Services Center Report No. 52, Revised, 2013
  • Mutual Aid and Interlocal Agreement Handbook, Washington State Emergency Management Division, 2009
  • Emergency Relief Program, Washington State Department of Transportation, Highways and Local Programs

Debris Removal After a Disaster

Agencies and Organizations

Washington State Agencies and Organizations

Federal Agencies

National Organizations

Last Modified: February 07, 2018