Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship

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FEMA has recently released a new guide on developing an emergency operations plan (EOP) for houses of worship nationwide. In light of the increased number of emergency situations that have occurred in houses of worship in the United States, FEMA urges the public to recognize that such institutions are not always “a safe area” where violence and emergencies cannot happen. This guide is intended to help houses of worship not only better prepare for and respond to natural disasters such as fires, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes, but also emergencies such as arson or violent acts.

“This guide provides houses of worship with information regarding emergency operations planning for the spectrum of threats and hazards they may face. It discusses actions that may be taken before, during, and after an incident in order to reduce the impact on property and any loss of life and it encourages every house of worship to develop an EOP.”

The guide is organized into four sections:
• The principles of emergency operations planning
• A process for developing, implementing, and continually refining a house of worship’s EOP with community partners
• A discussion of the form and function of a house of worship’s EOP
• A closer look that discusses house of worship emergency planning in the event of an active shooter situation

FEMA is not requiring that all houses of worship adopt these emergency operations guidelines, as it recognizes that congregations may approach emergency situations differently than the federal government, but asks that the guide be used as a resource for “examples on good practices and matters to consider for planning and implementation purposes.”

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/s_4811