In the summer of 2013, the Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA") released Developing High Quality Emergency Operation Plans for Houses of Worship (the "Guide"), a 38-page resource assisting churches with planning for, and responding to, emergencies. The Guide notes that many kinds of emergencies may affect churches, including:
The 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 "emergency operations plan" (EOP).
Key point. The Guide clarifies that it "does not create any requirements beyond those included in applicable law and regulations, or create any additional rights for any person, entity, or organization."
The Guide acknowledges that "congregations may approach some of these issues differently than government and other community organizations," but it stresses that FEMA "would like to assist congregations that are interested in emergency operations planning, and this guidance is offered in that spirit." The Guide recommends that the church teams responsible for developing and revising EOPs use the Guide to assist their efforts.