Certification Examination Standards – Planning Standards 2 – Risk Assessment

Certification Examination Standards – Planning Standards 2 – Risk Assessment

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By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission

In last month’s CEM Corner, we discussed the Planning Standards with a concentration on Planning Design and Process. This month we continue our discussion of the Planning Standards with a concentration on the Risk Assessment requirements.

The Standard – Planning Standards: Risk Assessment

The NFPA® 1600 version 2013 Planning Standards: Risk Assessment requires the entity to “conduct a risk assessment to develop required strategies and plans” by “identifying hazards and monitoring those hazards and the likelihood of their occurrence.” The standard defines risk assessment as “the process of hazard identification and the analysis of probabilities, vulnerabilities, and impacts.”

1. Evaluate types of hazards. The standard specifies the types of hazards to be evaluated:

  • Natural hazards (geological, meteorological, and biological).
  • Human-caused events (accidental and intentional).
  • Technology-caused events (accidental and intentional).

Recognize the difference between accidental and intentional. Accidental means the hazardous event was not the purpose of the act. An example of an accidental hazard is when a piece of equipment fails due to poor or no maintenance, thus causing a toxic chemical to be released. An intentional hazard would be a person purposely causing the release of the same toxic chemical through some overt act. Think of intentional as an act of sabotage or terrorism. If not designated as sabotage or terrorism, the hazardous event is considered accidental.

2. Identify and monitor vulnerability. The standard next requires the risk assessment identify, evaluate, and monitor “the vulnerability of people, property, operations, the environment, and the entity.”

3. Analyze impacts of hazards. The third requirement is for the entity to “conduct an analysis of the impacts of the three types of hazards identified above on the following criteria:

  • Health and safety of persons in the affected area;
  • Health and safety of personnel responding to the incident;
  • Continuity of operations;
  • Property, facilities, assets, and critical infrastructure;
  • Delivery of the entity’s services;
  • Supply chain;
  • Environment;
  • Economic and financial conditions;
  • Regulatory and contractual obligations; and
  • Reputation of or confidence in the entity.”

4. Evaluate potential effects that could have cascading impacts. The fourth requirement states, “The analysis shall evaluate the potential effects of regional, national, or international incidents that could have cascading impacts.” Here cascading means a chain of events occurring as a result of an initial event. An example would be a downstream flood, road and bridge destruction, and power outages occurring as the result of a dam failure.

5. Evaluate adequacy of prevention and mitigation strategies. The final requirement states, “The risk assessment shall evaluate the adequacy of existing prevention and mitigation strategies.” This evaluation is used to make decisions about how to allocate limited resources, reduce impacts and future resource requirements through mitigation, and build capabilities to ensure resiliency for the entity.


For information and discussion on Planning Standards: Risk Assessment, refer to the recommended FEMA Independent Study courses and other related references mentioned below. Do not confuse these general planning requirements with the specific procedures found within your organization. While an emergency manager needs to understand and know local procedures to be effective in the position, those procedures could easily differ from the general procedures discussed in the study references and are not found on the certification exam.
The applicable FEMA Independent Study (IS) courses candidates should review when studying Planning Design and Process are:

  • IS 230d – Fundamentals of Emergency Management.
  • IS 235b – Emergency Planning.
  • IS-276 – Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) Fundamentals.
  • IS-271.A – Anticipating Hazardous Weather and Community Risk, 2nd Edition.
  • IS 362a – Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools.
  • IS 554 – Emergency Planning for Public Works.
  • IS 2001 – Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA).

Additional Resource for USA Candidates

USA candidates also should consult FEMA’s 386-2, Understanding Your Risks: Identifying Hazards and Estimating Losses, and CPR 201, Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) Guide.

Next month we will continue our description of the Planning Standards with a concentration on the Business Impact Analysis requirements. We will also provide a recommended list of FEMA Independent Study courses and/or other references to study.

Concept of Comprehensive and Integrated EM

The CEM Commission has received numerous questions regarding the concept of comprehensive and integrated emergency management. According to FEMA’s IS 230d, comprehensive means the program “takes into account all threats/hazards, all phases, all stakeholders, and all impacts relevant to disasters.” Integrated means the program “embodies an all-threats/hazards approach to the direction, control, and coordination of disasters regardless of their location, size, or complexity, and it goes hand-in-hand with the concept of whole community preparedness.”

Therefore, an integrated and comprehensive emergency management program is one that involves all stakeholders while covering all phases of emergency management; for all hazards regardless of location, size, or complexity; and for all impacts of those hazards to the entity.

IAEM Bulletin, March 2014

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