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National Preparedness System

The purpose of this page is to provide an overview of the National Preparedness System, which is intended to be used by the whole community. The intended audience for this page is individuals, families, communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and state, local, tribal, territorial, insular area, and federal governments.

If you have any questions, please contact the National Integration Center at


Every day, we take steps to keep our nation safe and ensure that we thrive after disasters occur. Whether we face risks related to earthquakes, cyber attacks or chemical spills, our goal is shared: safety and resilience.

The National Preparedness System outlines an organized process for everyone in the whole community to move forward with their preparedness activities and achieve the National Preparedness Goal.       

The National Preparedness System has six parts:

  • Identifying and Assessing Risk. This part involves collecting historical and recent data on existing, potential and perceived threats and hazards. The results of these risk assessments form the basis for the remaining steps.
  • Estimating Capability Requirements. Next, you can determine the specific capabilities and activities to best address those risks. Some capabilities may already exist and some may need to be built or improved. FEMA provides a list of core capabilities related to protection, prevention, mitigation, response and recovery, the five mission areas of preparedness. To see a full list of the core capabilities, including details about each one, visit our Core Capabilities page on this site.
  • Building and Sustaining Capabilities. This involves figuring out the best way to use limited resources to build capabilities. You can use the risk assessment to prioritize resources to address the highest probability or highest consequence threats.
  • Planning to Deliver Capabilities. Because preparedness efforts involve and affect the whole community, it’s important that you coordinate your plans with other organizations. This includes all parts of the whole community: individuals, businesses, nonprofits, community and faith-based groups, and all levels of government.
  • Validating Capabilities. Now it’s time to see if your activities are working as intended. Participating in exercises, simulations or other activities helps you identify gaps in your plans and capabilities. It also helps you see progress toward meeting preparedness goals. Please visit the National Exercise Division for more information.
  • Reviewing and Updating. It is important to regularly review and update all capabilities, resources and plans. Risks and resources evolve—and so should your preparedness efforts. 

Specific Tools and Resources

Depending on your role in the community, you need specific tools and resources to help you through the cycle of the National Preparedness System. We’ve listed a few below, along with links for more information.

  • Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA). Information and guidance on conducting a THIRA can be found on the THIRA web page.
  • Stakeholder Prepardness Report (SPR): Information on the SPR and the Unified Reporting Tool (URT) can be found on the SPR webpage.
  • Operations Plans. Guidance for for conducting the three-step process for a THIRA and the three-step process for an SPR can be found in Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 201: Third Edition.
  • National Incident Management System. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a systematic, proactive approach to guide organizations in managing all types of incidents. Information about NIMS  — including supporting tools and materials — can be found on the NIMS web page.
  • National Planning System. The National Planning System provides a unified approach and common terminology to support the implementation of the National Preparedness System through plans that support an all threats and hazards approach to preparedness. These plans — whether strategic, operational, or tactical — enable the whole community to build, sustain, and deliver the core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal.

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Last Updated: 
01/29/2019 - 12:19