The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which became part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003, has nearly 7,500 employees throughout the country at its headquarters, its 10 regional offices, and its National Emergency Training Center and Center for Domestic Preparedness/Noble Training Center.
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The mission of FEMA is to support citizens and first responders as to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards, whether natural or manmade. FEMA has been the lead agency within the federal government for responding to and recovering from crises since 1979.
In total, FEMA has provided coordinated federal response and recovery for more than 1,800 incidents to date. Its mission of serving the nation includes coordinating efforts and resources with any number of local, tribal, state and federal partners, as well as the private sector and nongovernmental entities.
What is FEMA? Organizational Structure and Programs
FEMA organizes its efforts as to ensure the best allocation of resources, manpower, and funds:
Response and Recovery
The Response, Recovery, and Logistics Management Directorates were combined with the Office of the Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery (ORR). The ORR receives all requests for emergency declarations and major disasters in compliance with the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. It also provides coordination and resource integration, and it oversees a number of DEMA’s major operational components, which now include:
- Response Directorate
- Recovery Directorate
- Logistics Management Directorate
- Office of Readiness and Assessment
- Office of Federal Coordinating Officer
FEMA’s Logistics Management Division provides strategic, logistics planning support and coordinates all domestic emergency logistics management and sustainment capabilities. The Directorate assumes responsibility for standards, execution, and logistics support, as well as policy guidance and operations. FEMA Logistics also oversees Logistics Management and Resource Support and General Services Administration.
Readiness and Assessment
FEMA’s Office of Readiness and Assessment, which was created in 2010, allows the FEMA Administrator and agency leaders to ensure and to report the overall level of readiness of FEMA as to adequately fulfill its responsibilities of disaster response, recovery, and logistics missions.
FEMA Career Paths and Degree Requirements
FEMA employs a wide array of professionals, and there are many career paths that can be pursued, including:
- Permanent full-time employees: All permanent, full-time employees are hired through a competitive process that includes an application and interview.
- On-call response/recovery employees: On-call response/recovery employees are hired to work for a specific period of time, which is usually between 2 and 4 years. They may be hired through either a competitive process or a streamlined process.
- Reservists (intermittent) employees: Reservist employees are hired to perform work on a temporary or intermittent basis. They are often hired to help FEMA to respond to emergencies and disasters.
- Temporary local hires: Temporary local hires are hired to fulfill disaster operational staffing needs. They are hired on 120-day terms, and their term may be extended in increments of 120 days, up to one year.
- FEMA Corps: FEMA Corps is a FEMA-devoted unit of 1,600 service corps members within the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. Their work is dedicated to disaster preparedness, response and recovery. It is designed to prepare 18- to 24-year olds for careers in emergency management and related fields.
FEMA employees may also work through one of FEMA’s many programs, which include:
Insurance and Mitigation
The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration oversees the National Flood Insurance Program and a range of similar mitigation programs designed to avoid future losses from natural disasters.
FEMA also maintains an Environmental and Historic Preservation program that integrates environmental, historic, and cultural resources into FEMA’s activities.
Protection and Preparedness
FEMA’s Protection and National Preparedness program coordinates the preparedness and protection activities for FEMA, including planning, training, exercises, assessments, continuity, grants, individual and community preparedness, and national capital region coordination.
The Response Directorate coordinates all federal operational and logistical disaster response services, while the Recovery Directorate supports communities and their citizens in their efforts to recover from a disaster.
U.S. Fire Administration
The U.S. Fire Administration provides leadership for all fire and emergency services stakeholders through the implementation of training programs for the national and fire data center. It also conducts research related to fire detection, suppression, and fire responder safety and health.
Many careers in FEMA require individuals who meet specific, minimum requirements for both education and experience. Degree requirements for FEMA jobs may include specific programs of study, such as emergency management, homeland security, and sociology.
FEMA Training Courses and Requirements
FEMA employs the National Training Program (NTP), which is an organized approach to training for both emergency managers and emergency response providers. The NTP, which supports National Preparedness Guidelines, provides policy, guidance and resources to address training, development, and evaluation.
FEMA’s training organizations include:
Center for Domestic Preparedness
The Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) delivers advanced training for emergency response providers, emergency managers, and other government officials from all levels of government. The CDP includes more than 50 training courses at its facility in Anniston, Alabama. These courses focus on incident management, mass casualty response, and emergency response to a catastrophic natural disaster or terrorist act.
Emergency Management Institute
The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) delivers emergency management training for government officials, volunteer organizations, and the public and private sectors.
National Training and Education Division
The Training and Exercise Integration/Training Operations (TEI/TO), which is designed for the nation’s first responder community, includes more than 125 courses.
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center is an interagency law enforcement training organization that serves more than 90 federal agencies. It also provides training to state, local and international law enforcement agencies.