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Emergency Planning at the Local Government Level


This page is one of a series of MRSC pages on Emergency Management and Disaster Planning topics. This page provides reference links to many of the policies and procedures that are mandated or recommended by federal and state emergency management agencies. It provides examples of local policy provisions and other documents related to the mandatory or recommended practices. Links are also provided to agencies and organizations associated with emergency management planning.

About Local Government Emergency Planning

Emergency management in Washington State is authorized by Ch. 38.52 RCW. The Washington State Military Department Division of Emergency Management administers the state emergency management program. State criteria for emergency management funds, workers, organizations, services and plans, and disaster recovery is outlined in Title 118 WAC.

Each political subdivision is authorized and directed to establish a local organization or to be a member of a joint local organization for emergency management in accordance with the state comprehensive emergency management plan and program (see RCW 38.52.070). More specifically, WAC 118-30-040 sets out the responsibilities of political subdivisions:

  1. Each political subdivision must establish an emergency management organization by ordinance or resolution passed by the legislative body of the political subdivision. Two or more political subdivisions may join in the establishment of an emergency management organization.
  2. Each political subdivision shall develop, promulgate and submit a comprehensive emergency management plan.
  3. Each political subdivision shall submit an emergency management program paper annually to the director not less than sixty days prior to the beginning of the calendar year.
  4. Political subdivisions that have joined together to form a joint emergency management organization may submit a single plan and program paper. Criteria for evaluating local emergency management/services organizations, plans and programs to ensure consistency with the state comprehensive emergency management plan and program is outlined in Ch. 118-30 WAC.

State Planning Documents

General Emergency Planning References

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

Local Government Proclamations

Many of these examples are from the last decade, but they serve as illustrations of the various disasters declared by local governments

Civil Disturbances

  • Seattle Resolution No. 30099 - A Resolution ratifying and confirming a Mayoral Proclamation of Civil Emergency and civil emergency orders issued pursuant to that Proclamation, passed 12/06/1999

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

Federal Agencies

National Organizations

Washington State Agencies and Organizations

Last Modified: January 08, 2016