Natural Hazards Observer


January 2005
Volume XXIX | Number 3

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News on NIMS

In support of the ongoing efforts to develop and implement a single, comprehensive system for incident management that will encourage and enable greater cooperation among departments and agencies at all levels of government, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Integration Center (NIC) have released several new and updated NIMS-related resources.

  • A template for a basic NIMS Implementation Plan is now available. The template, which is specifically designed for federal departments and agencies, but adaptable for state, local, and tribal agencies, outlines four phases of NIMS adoption. Phase I calls for initial staff training, which includes FEMA’s NIMS and Incident Command System (ICS) independent study courses. Phase II involves evaluation of existing plans, policies, and procedures to identify areas that fail to meet NIMS compliance. Phase III includes modification of plans, polices, and procedures to ensure NIMS compliance. Finally, Phase IV consists of credentialing and certifying personnel and equipment based on NIC standards. In addition to outlining the phases, the template also provides an implementation timeline, a progress checklist, and an annex that compares NIMS with the National Response Plan.
  • NIMS and the Incident Command System is a recently released paper that reviews the development of the various versions of the ICS (e.g., versions practiced by firefighters, hazardous materials teams, rescuers, and emergency medical teams) and addresses uncertainties about NIMS ICS, the mandated ICS of the future, and the impact it will have on systems and processes currently in place. Additionally, it explains how NIMS ICS works, describes how it is different from previous systems, and discusses the future of NIMS ICS training.
  • An updated National Mutual Aid Glossary of Terms and Definitions provides terms for equipment, teams, and personnel to help incident managers identify, obtain, and track needed resources during an incident or disaster.
  • Also designed to improve the use of mutual aid in an emergency, Resource Typing Definitions-II adds 60 new resources to the 60 released in March 2004, for a total of 120. Resource typing establishes common resource definitions developed by emergency management experts that improve the efficiency of ordering, dispatching, and receiving resources during an incident.

To access these resources, visit the NIC online at http://www.fema.gov/nims/. For questions about NIMS, contact the NIC, 500 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20472; (202) 646-3850; e-mail: NIMS-Integration-Center@dhs.gov.

Homeland Security Appropriations Bill of 2005

On October 18, the president signed the Fiscal Year 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act (Public Law 108-334), providing $28.9 billion in net discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Among the appropriations, the law provides approximately $4 billion to support state and local governments and first responders, including:

  • $1.1 billion for formula-based grants;
  • $400 million for law enforcement terrorism prevention grants;
  • $1.2 billion for discretionary spending (includes high-threat, high-density urban areas);
  • $336.3 million for training, exercises, technical assistance, and other programs;
  • $715 million for firefighter assistance grants; and
  • $180 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants.

Also, recognizing that no community is immune from terrorism, the law tries to create a balance between basic formula grants (used by states and localities to achieve a minimum level of preparedness) and funds for high-risk urban areas. The complete text of the appropriations act, including specific funding levels, is available in any federal repository library and on the Library of Congress Web site at http://thomas.loc.gov/. A fact sheet issued by DHS is available at http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=4065.

Annual Stafford Act Updates

As prescribed by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, each year the Federal Emergency Management Agency adjusts the statewide per capita impact indicator (per capita cost of a disaster that qualifies a county or state for disaster assistance) and reexamines the maximum dollar amounts available for assistance under the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) and for Small Project Grants to state and local governments and private facilities. This year’s adjustments are based on an increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, as published by the U.S. Department of Labor, of 2.7 percent. For any single disaster or major emergency declared on or after October 1, 2004, the statewide impact indicator is $1.14, the maximum amount of IHP financial assistance provided to an individual or household is $26,200, the maximum amount of replacement assistance is $10,500, and the maximum amount of any Small Project Grant is $55,000.

Details about these revisions are available in the October 19, 2004, Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 201, pp. 61515-61516, which can be found in any federal repository library or online at http://www.access.gpo.gov/. To learn more about the statewide per capita impact indicator, contact James A. Walke at (202) 646-3834. For information about the other adjustments, contact Berl Jones (202) 646-4235. Send written correspondence to FEMA, 500 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20472.

Update on Earthquake and Wind Hazards Legislation

bag of money for NEHRP

On October 25, the president signed the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-360). The new law authorizes $900 million to be spent over the next five years on the development and implementation of earthquake hazard reduction measures and interdisciplinary earthquake research activities and moves NEHRP from the jurisdiction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The law also authorizes $72.5 million over three years for a new National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program to be modeled after NEHRP with the intent of studying the impact of wind on structures and developing cost-effective ways to mitigate these impacts. The complete text of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act of 2004 is available in any federal repository library and on the Library of Congress Web site at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

Safety of Dams Act of 2004 Becomes Law

Signed into law on December 3, the Safety of Dams Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-439) amends the Reclamation Safety of Dams Act of 1978 to increase funding levels for projects to preserve the structural safety of Bureau of Reclamation dams and related facilities. Additionally, it provides the Bureau with the authority to fast-track actions to ensure the structural integrity of its dams by increasing the ceiling on the amount that can be obligated for urgent dam modifications, from $750,000 to $1.25 million, and provides project beneficiaries with opportunities to consult with the Bureau on the planning, design, and construction of proposed modifications. The complete text of the Safety of Dams Act of 2004 is available in any federal repository library and on the Library of Congress Web site at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

New Fire Corps Program Launched

In December, Fire Corps was officially launched to support and supplement fire departments with community volunteers trained to handle nonemergency activities. Through its partnerships with fire service organizations and local Citizen Corps Councils across the country, Fire Corps will actively involve citizens in public education, training, and volunteer efforts focused on fire prevention and safety. Member activities may include assisting fire department personnel with administrative duties, performing education and outreach efforts to encourage fire safety and prevention, supporting community emergency response team training in emergency preparedness and basic response techniques, and other nonsuppression activities.

Fire Corps is a partnership between the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs Volunteer Combination Officers Section, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the U.S. Fire Administration. Learn more about Fire Corps by visiting http://www.firecorps.org/.

NOAA Issues New Partnership Policy

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced a new policy regarding the information products and services of the National Weather Service (NWS). The intent of the new policy is to strengthen the partnership among organizations from government, academia, and the private sector that provide weather, water, climate, and related environmental information. The new policy responds to recommendations in the National Research Council’s study, Fair Weather: Effective Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services (see the Observer, July 2004, p. 22). Among its chief recommendations, the council identified the need for a policy recognizing advances in technology and the enactment of relevant laws and implementing guidance.

The comments received following release of the proposed policy for public comment in January 2004, and the policy itself, are available at http://nws.noaa.gov/fairweather/. For more information, contact Peter Weiss, NWS 1325 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910; (301) 713-0258; e-mail: peter.weiss@noaa.gov.

USFA Course Prepares EMS Responders for Multiple Casualty Events

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is offering a new online course designed to help emergency medical service (EMS) personnel respond more effectively when faced with a multiple casualty incident (MCI). An MCI can occur as the result of many situations, such as a transportation accident, a building collapse, a civil disturbance, a severe weather event, or a terrorist attack, to name a few. The new independent study course, EMS Operations at Multicasualty Incidents, Q157, is a four-hour, Web-based course that addresses preparedness planning; incident management; safe and efficient triage, treatment, and transportation of patients; and the de-escalation of the response. Access the course at the USFA’s Virtual Campus at http://www.training.fema.gov/.

More Relief for Hurricane Victims

Additional hurricane relief in the amount of $11.6 billion was granted on October 13 as part of the Military Construction Appropriations and Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2005 (Public Law 108-324). Combined with the $2 billion authorized by the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act (see the Observer, November 2004, p. 7-8), supplemental relief for families, individuals, and communities affected by Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne now totals $13.6 billion. For specific details and funding authorizations, visit any federal repository library or the Library of Congress Web site at http://thomas.loc.gov/. A White House fact sheet is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/10/20041014-14.html.

FEMA Reports Record Aid for 2004 Hurricane Season Response

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a record $4.27 billion in FEMA disaster funds had been expended through November 2004 to aid people and communities victimized by this year’s intense and damaging hurricane season. These expenditures are attributable to hurricane-related damage in 27 presidentially declared disasters across 15 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Of the total FEMA funding, the agency reported that $2.25 billion has been provided in aid for affected individuals and families, including $1.29 billion in housing assistance; $918 million for other needs assistance, such as medical expenses and personal property losses; $30.98 million in unemployment benefits; and $5.23 million for crisis counseling services. In addition, $286 million in FEMA funds have been committed to state and local governments for the restoration of damaged facilities, $1.11 billion has been spent in mission-assigned federal emergency work, and $2.94 million has been obligated for hazard mitigation activities.

For additional information and a summary of FEMA assistance by state, see the press release at http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=15508.

FEMA Funds New Trucks for Disaster Response

In a continuing effort to enhance disaster response capabilities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has launched a $6.7 million program to speed the response capabilities of its Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT). In the first year of the program, 93 trucks will be delivered to 31 DMATs across the country. The trucks will haul field tents, generators, medical equipment, and supplies and will be accompanied by specialized refrigerator trucks designed to transport and store sensitive pharmaceuticals. Trucks have already been delivered to DMAT teams in California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, and New York. DMATS, part of FEMA’s National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), have been deployed most recently in the wake of the Florida hurricanes and the earthquake in Bam, Iran. For more information, contact the NDMS, 500 C Street SW, Suite 713, Washington, DC 20472; (800) 872-6367; http://ndms.fema.gov/.

Forest Service Celebrates 100 Years

birthday cake

The Forest Service will celebrate its 100th anniversary on July 1, 2005. On this date 100 years ago, the Forest Service was created as an agency with a unique mission: to sustain healthy, diverse, and productive forests and grasslands for present and future generations. As the agency approaches its centennial, they ask that you join them in reflecting on the organization’s proud history and traditions and exploring ways to move into a new century of “caring for the land and serving people.”

The commemoration will be a combination of nationally promoted signature events and locally sponsored opportunities. All planned activities are intended to recognize Forest Service past accomplishments and validate the importance of the agency’s current relationship with partners and collaborators. The New Century of Service has coordinated centennial events to encourage a dialogue about challenges faced by the Forest Service in the next century. These challenges include rapid natural and social changes, changing public desires, and new technologies.

A new Web site features the latest information on all centennial events. Find out more by contacting the Forest Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250; (202) 205-8333; http://www.fs.fed.us/centennial/regional/.

The EPA and Homeland Security

In September 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a strategic plan for homeland security that outlined the agency’s relevant activities and initiatives through fiscal year 2005. Roles and responsibilities of the EPA in homeland security include coordinating protection of the drinking water and wastewater sector, providing federal emergency response and recovery support in the event of an attack, providing forensic evidence collection assistance, and researching enhanced methods of detection and decontamination.

Released in October, the EPA’s 2004 Homeland Security Strategy updates earlier efforts, taking into consideration the agency’s available resources through fiscal year 2005, recent presidential directives and expectations, and the evolving role of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The strategy explains how the EPA will collaborate with public and private partners at the federal, state, and local levels to best accomplish its goals and describes how EPA’s scientific and technical expertise can be used to help the nation prepare for, respond to, and recover from a chemical, biological, or radiological attack. Find out more about the strategy and download a copy at http://www.epa.gov/ohs/htm/ohs-sp.htm. For questions, contact the EPA Office of Homeland Security, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Mail Code 1109A, Washington, DC 20460; (202) 564-6972.

The EPA has also recently established a permanent National Homeland Security Research Center based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The center, initially authorized under a temporary charter in the wake of September 11, 2001, to provide technical assistance to first responders and decision makers, is made up of three divisions: threat and consequence assessment, decontamination and consequence management, and water infrastructure protection. For more information about the center, visit http://www.epa.gov/ordnhsrc/.

National Fire Codes: Request for Comments

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is once again seeking input on a variety of issues related to fire safety codes and standards. The notice “National Fire Codes: Request for Comments on NFPA Technical Committee Reports” (see the November 19, 2004, Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 223, pp. 67705-67706) requests comments on the technical reports that will be presented at the NFPA’s November 2005 meeting. Twenty-seven reports are published in the 2005 November Cycle Report on Proposals and will be available on January 7, 2005. For a copy of the report, visit http://www.nfpa.org/ or request a copy from the NFPA Fulfillment Center, 11 Tracy Drive, Avon, MA 02322. Comments are due by March 25, 2005.

A second notice, “National Fire Codes: Request for Proposals for Revision of Codes and Standards” (see the November 19, 2004, Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 223, pp. 67703-67705), requests proposals from the public to amend existing fire safety codes and standards or develop new ones. The purpose of this request is to increase public participation in the system used by the NFPA to develop its codes and standards. One of the codes up for review is NFPA 1600: Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity, which has recently been endorsed by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) as the proposed national preparedness standard for private sector emergency preparedness.

For more information about the codes, proposal deadlines, or how to submit comments and proposals, visit http://www.nfpa.org/Codes/ or read the notices in the Federal Register, which can be found in any federal repository library or online at http://www.access.gpo.gov/.

American Red Cross Receives DHS Training Grant

bag of money for Red Cross

The American Red Cross has received a $6.5 million competitive training grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the largest grant of 14 that were awarded. Developed to provide funding for training initiatives that will help the nation prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction, this grant program is the first of its kind to be open to nonprofit organizations like the Red Cross. To uphold its commitment to providing essential human needs to the victims and responders involved in a terrorist attack, the Red Cross will use the funding to develop a training initiative to enhance the response capacity of nongovernmental and volunteer organizations. For more information about the American Red Cross and its programs, contact them at American Red Cross National Headquarters, 2025 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20006; (202) 303-4498; http://www.redcross.org/. Details about the Competitive Training Grants Program are available from the Office for Domestic Preparedness, 810 Seventh Street NW, Washington, DC 20531; (800) 368-6498; e-mail: askcsid@dhs.gov; http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/odp/.

FEMA’s Multiyear Flood Hazard Identification Plan

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its flood-mapping partners have prepared a Multiyear Flood Hazard Identification Plan (MHIP), the first-ever national look at how FEMA and its partners plan to update flood maps. Developed in cooperation with state, local, and regional entities and other partners, the MHIP outlines a five-year schedule and budget for conducting flood studies and providing reliable digital flood hazard data and maps to support the National Flood Insurance Program.

The MHIP is available on FEMA’s Flood Hazard Mapping Web site at http://www.fema.gov/fhm/mh_main.shtm. The MHIP is a living document that will be formally updated twice a year. The stakeholder comment period for this version ends on January 31, 2005. Comments can be made through the Flood Hazard Mapping Web site. Call (877) 336-2627 with questions, or find and e-mail a map specialist at http://www.fema.gov/fhm/tsd_emap.shtm.

New Ready Campaign Public Service Announcements

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Ad Council have unveiled new Ready campaign public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring children questioning parents about what to do during an emergency. The television, radio, print, outdoor, and Internet PSAs are designed to encourage people to develop a family emergency plan and to, ultimately, increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation. The three key messages of the campaign are get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, and be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses. View the PSAs on the Ad Council Web site at http://www.adcouncil.org/campaigns/homeland_security/. For more information about the Ready program, or how to become “ready,” call (800) 237-3239, TTY: (800) 464-6161, or visit http://www.ready.gov/.

USFA Releases New Edition of Fire in the United States

The U.S. Fire Administration has released Fire in the United States 1992 to 2001 (2004, 197 pp. free), a running 10-year statistical overview of fires in the United States. The primary source of data is the National Fire Incident Reporting System. Other sources include the National Fire Protection Association, the National Center for Health Statistics, state fire marshals offices, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Consumer Price Index. The report is available through the USFA Publications Center, 16825 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, MD 21727; (800) 561-3356; http://www.usfa.fema.gov/applications/publications/.


Affirmation of “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has posted information on its Web site that affirms the earthquake safety advice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” and provides accurate illustrations showing the proper procedure. This was done in response to a flurry of inquiries that asked FEMA and other agencies if the recommendation to “drop, cover, and hold on” remained accurate. This information is available at http://www.fema.gov/hazards/earthquakes/nehrp/hold.shtm. The National Disaster Education Coalition also has a statement about this issue, titled “Triangle of Life,” on its Web site at http://www.disastereducation.org/guide_tech_issues.html.


NSF Deadline: Human and
Social Dynamics Solicitation

The deadline for the submission of multidisciplinary proposals to the Human and Social Dynamics Solicitation at the National Science Foundation is February 23, 2005. Proposals dealing with research on hazards and disasters should be submitted to the “Decision Making, Risk, and Uncertainty” emphasis area. These proposals are to be multidisciplinary in nature and must involve the participation of at least one social scientist. Research teams including participants from the engineering, natural science, geoscience, and/or social science areas are encouraged.

All proposals must be submitted by 5:00 pm in the time zone from which the proposal originates. For more information, contact Dennis Wenger, Civil and Mechanical Systems, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230; (703) 292-7014; e-mail: dwenger@nsf.gov or see the solicitation at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2005/nsf05520/nsf05520.htm.


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