FEMA & Faith for Emergency Operations Plans

FEMA maintains Federal guidance documentation for every imaginable situation and scenario. As central components of a community’s faith and functions, it only makes sense that FEMA developed guidance documentation for the unique needs of churches and congregations with the “Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship.”


Members of faith-based organizations are already predisposed to volunteer and assist. The “Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship” provides the same structure for identifying potential threats and developing action plans used by other agencies and emergency responders.

All Threats & Hazards

FEMA’s guide helps identify the various threats and hazards that could occur in or around a house of worship. Natural hazards, technological hazards, and adversarial / human-caused threats are each identified and assessed as potential issues. For each scenario, an emergency operations plan is developed.

All Settings & Times

For a house of worship, the most immediate threats and hazards surround the building and/or location, but the surrounding environment and resources must also be assessed. Even beyond the house of worship, emergency operations planning also addresses off-site locations for meetings, excursions, and events. Time of year (seasons), time of day, worship hours, and even times when the building(s) may be empty should all be assessed for a proper response.

Access & Functional Needs

Similarly, the seasons, time, and size of the assembly affect accessibility and function. As a family-oriented organization, emergency planning should also account for a larger-than-average number of children and elderly congregants. Most houses of worship already ensure special accommodations for congregants with disabilities, but for an emergency, plans should also include the possibility of visitors.

Mission Areas

By addressing the primary mission areas common to all Federal emergency preparedness guides (prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery) in this unique guide, houses of worship will be prepared to help their congregations and to work with others in an emergency.