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FEMA's Publishes National Incident Management System Guideline for Mutual Aid

FEMA's Publishes National Incident Management System Guideline for Mutual Aid

Created: Thursday, March 28, 2024 - 13:23
Emergency Response & Recovery, Federal & State Resources, General Security and Resilience

FEMA’s National Integration Center recently published the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Guideline for Mutual Aid. A mutual aid network, such as the Water and Wastewater Agency Response Networks (WARNs), enhances the nation’s overall preparedness and readiness by allowing jurisdictions and organizations to account for, order, and mobilize outside resources efficiently and effectively.

According to FEMA, mutual aid agreements establish the terms under which one party provides resources – personnel, teams, facilities, equipment, and supplies – to another party. Since most jurisdictions do not maintain sufficient resource levels to handle natural disasters and other extreme events independently, mutual aid agreements provide a means for jurisdictions to augment their resources when needed for high-demand incidents.

For water and wastewater utilities, the WARN network involves “utilities helping utilities” within a state respond to and recover from natural disasters and other emergencies by sharing resources with one another. WARNs are governed by a common mutual aid agreement. The WARN agreement allows utilities to share resources in a more expedited way, compared to other mechanisms that require a formal disaster declaration. The agreement spells out how liability, workers’ compensation, insurance, and reimbursement will work. Other benefits include increased emergency preparedness and coordination, and enhanced access to specialized resources. Utility responders, once notified, are typically on the ground within 24 hours, according to EPA.

NIMS is a key component of the national incident management capabilities and enables organizations from across the nation to work together during incidents of all kinds and sizes. Implementing NIMS nationwide is a fundamental part of building our national preparedness. The NIMS Guideline for Mutual Aid supplements the resource management component of NIMS by providing guidance on different types of mutual aid agreements, the key elements of a mutual aid agreement, and the key elements of mutual aid operational plans used for implementation. Access the full NIMS Guideline for Mutual Aid 2024 at FEMA and read more about WARN at EPA.