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Post-Disaster Recovery Planning for Fire and EMS

A post-disaster recovery plan for your fire and emergency medical services (EMS) department can speed recovery and prepare your community to reduce the impact of future disasters.

Activities during a disaster occur in one of four distinct and overlapping periods of time.

  • Normal lives are disrupted as a result of the disaster.
  • Period of restoration where the immediate impact of the disaster is addressed.
  • Period of rebuilding where stock is rebuilt, and social and economic activities return to normal.
  • Commemoration of the disaster, improvement and community growth.

In a perfect world, planning for recovery from disasters occurs prior to disasters, with short- and long-term recovery beginning while the disaster is still active and response activities are underway or winding down. However, that does not always happen, and communities face responding to the disaster and developing and implementing recovery activities at the same time, resulting in missed opportunities to strengthen community resilience and reduce the risk and impact of future disasters.

Disaster recovery timeline

disaster recovery timeline showing how mitigation, preparedness, recovery and planning all overlap.

Development of a post-disaster recovery plan, which is integrated with the community comprehensive plan, emergency operations plan, capital improvement plan and mitigation plan, can speed recovery and prepare the community to reduce the impact of future disasters. Developing the plan before short-term recovery efforts can be implemented will limit any negative impact short-term actions may have on long-term recovery efforts.

How to make a post-disaster recovery plan

To prepare a post-disaster recovery plan:

  1. Recognize the need and value of developing a post-disaster recovery plan.
  2. Build a team composed of members of the organization, all levels of government, business community and other community stakeholders.
  3. Gather information and data about the community.
  4. Identify the hazards, vulnerabilities and impacts of disasters in the community.
  5. Identify methods to address the hazards and vulnerabilities of the community to minimize the impact of future disasters, including:
    • Removing vulnerable populations from hazard areas.
    • Changing zoning regulations.
    • Implementing design controls into the design of buildings and public spaces.
    • Changing organizational policy.
    • Pre-positioning equipment and supplies to mitigate future disasters.
  6. Develop and implement the plan according to local regulation by:
    • Strengthening interorganizational relationships.
    • Supporting legislative efforts to implement the plan.
    • Stitching together funding sources to achieve plan objectives.
  7. Monitor and evaluate the plan's activities and effectiveness.