Community Lifelines

A "lifeline" enables the continuous operation of critical government and business functions and is essential to human health and safety or economic security.

Why Lifelines?

FEMA developed the community lifelines construct to increase effectiveness in disaster operations and better position the Agency to respond to catastrophic incidents.

Lifelines are the most fundamental services in the community that, when stabilized, enable all other aspects of society. When disrupted, decisive intervention (e.g., rapid service re-establishment or employment of contingency response solutions) is required.

During initial response, priority efforts focus on understanding and addressing community impacts. 

Lifelines provide an outcome-based, survivor- centric frame of reference that assists responders with:

  • Root Cause Analysis
  • Interdependencies
  • Prioritization
  • Ease of Communication

How Lifelines Were Developed

FEMA released initial guidance (Lifelines Toolkit) introducing the lifelines construct in February 2019, followed by significant stakeholder outreach and feedback including:

  • State and Local Emergency Managers
  • Interagency Partners
  • Private and Non-Profit Stakeholders

Construct was validated during responses to Hurricanes Michael, Florence, and Dorian, Super Typhoon Yutu, Alaska Earthquake, and during Shaken Fury full-scale exercise.

Lessons learned from exercises, operations, and stakeholder feedback resulted in refinement and improvement to the construct.

National Response Framework (NRF) 4th Edition formalized lifelines in national response policy, and enhanced Lifelines guidance (Lifelines Toolkit 2.0) released to support NRF publication.

Chart of Lifelines Drive Response - from Pre-Incident to Recovery



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