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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 policy provisions. It is part a series of MRSC pages on Emergency Management and Disaster Planning topics.


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 Emergency Plans

The following emergency plans are from the Washington State Emergency Management Division website.

Emergency Planning Resources

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

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

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

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: November 14, 2016