The Mitigation Assessment Team (MAT) Program is an updated and enhanced version of FEMA's previous Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) Program. Drawing on the combined resources of a federal, state, local, and private sector partnership, the MAT Program allows FEMA to assemble and quickly deploy teams of investigators. These investigators evaluate the performance of buildings and related infrastructure in response to the effects of natural and man-made hazards. The teams conduct field investigations at disaster sites; work closely with local and state officials to develop recommendations for improvements in building design and construction; and develop recommendations concerning code development and enforcement, and mitigation activities that will lead to greater resistance to hazard events.
FEMA publishes the observations and recommendations of a Mitigation Assessment Team in reports. The award-winning MAT Program, operated by a consulting engineering firm under contract to FEMA, has been covered by the national media and featured in numerous technical and professional journals.
Since the early 1990s, FEMA has deployed assessment teams in response to hurricanes Andrew, Iniki, Opal, Fran, Georges, Charley, Ivan, Katrina, Ike and Sandy. FEMA has also deployed MATs in response flood disasters in California, Georgia, North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin; tornadoes in Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, and Alabama; the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City; and the attack on the World Trade Center towers in New York City.
The most recent Mitigation Assessment Team deployments occurred in the fall of 2017 in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria that affected Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands with severe flooding and high winds damage.
- What are the objectives of the MAT?
- Who are the members of the MAT?
- Who is responsible for the MAT Program?
- What have we learned from these teams?
- What is the next step in the hazard mitigation process?
- Where can I find answers to specific questions about MAT deployments?
What are the objectives of the Mitigation Assessment Team?
The objectives are to:
- Inspect buildings and related infrastructure,
- Conduct forensic engineering analyses to determine causes of structural failure and success, and
- Recommend actions that state and local governments, the construction industry, and building code organizations can take to reduce future damages and protect lives and property in hazard areas.
Who are the members of a Mitigation Assessment Team?
Team members typically include:
- Representatives of FEMA Headquarters and of FEMA Regional Offices,
- State and local officials, and
- Public and private sector experts in technical disciplines such as structural and civil engineering, architecture, building construction, natural hazards research, and code development and enforcement.
Who is responsible for the Mitigation Assessment Team Program?
The program is administered by FEMA's Building Science Branch, which is responsible for the overall management of the program. FEMA establishes the goals and objectives, selects the contractor who will support FEMA in program management, makes operational decisions such as whether or not to deploy a team, and provides leadership both in and out of the field. For further information regarding MAT Program management, contact:
Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA)
Federal Emergency Management Agency
400 C St. SW
Washington, DC 20472
What have we learned from these teams?
MATs deployed after hurricanes have focused on the performance of residential construction affected by high-velocity flood flow, wave action, the impact of waterborne debris, erosion and localized scour, and high winds. Following are some examples of deployments and the content for reports:
- After tornadoes in Kansas and Oklahoma, the teams evaluated the effects of high winds and assessed shelter options. The Oklahoma City MAT investigated structural failure modes associated with the blast and the potential for reciprocal benefits from blast-resistant and earthquake-resistant design.
- The World Trade Center assessment team investigated the potential failure mechanisms that led to the destruction of the twin towers and the damage incurred by nearby buildings.
- The reports for hurricanes Charley, Ivan and Katrina provided observations, conclusions, and recommendations on the performance of buildings and other structures impacted by wind and flood forces.
Lessons learned from MAT findings help establish improved disaster-resistant construction codes and standards, designs, methods, and materials used for both new construction and post-disaster repair and recovery.
What is the next step in the hazard mitigation process?
Successful hazard mitigation depends in part on the application of MAT findings and recommendations to new construction and retrofitting through technology transfer. The transfer of information by FEMA to state and local governments and the private sector is critical to this process. FEMA widely distributes this information using a variety of media, including:
- Technical manuals, fact sheets, recovery advisories, and public handbooks
- Internet resources
- Resident training at the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) at the National Emergency Training Center
- Independent Study through EMI
- Field-deployable training
By increasing public awareness and encouraging community involvement, FEMA increases the opportunity for long-term success.
Where can I find answers to specific questions about MAT deployments?
FEMA has prepared a MAT predeployment package for subcontractors, subconsultants, MAT roster members, and other potential members of MATs such as Federal employees “mission assigned” to the MAT by FEMA. The pre-deployment package answers commonly asked questions such as “What type of equipment should I take?”
To make the MAT process an integral part of disaster response and hazard mitigation activities, FEMA has developed a MAT Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). The SOP is a proactive all hazards approach to the planning, pre-deployment, deployment, field assessment, and post-deployment functions of a MAT. Under this approach, whenever possible, the process for determining the need for assembling and deploying a MAT begins well in advance of the disaster event itself, and the potential members of the MAT will have already been identified, qualified, and placed on "standby" for deployment by FEMA.