Planning enables a more effective response by laying out an agreed upon approach to how we will respond to incidents. They define our priorities and goals. They also outline how we are going to achieve our goals and what each person is responsible for doing. A good plan will use everyone's talents and stresses working together.

Plans are intended to manage risk. In Seattle, we have two plans that all of our planning are based on. One is the Seattle Hazard Identification and Vulnerability Analysis (SHIVA) that was mentioned above and the other is the Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis (THIRA). 

Every disaster is different and because we don't know when an incident will strike or what will happen when it occurs, plans are designed to be flexible and adaptable.

Most planners will tell you that the process of coming up with the plan is probably more valuable than the plan itself. In Seattle, we believe in planning with the community not for them. This means we need everyone to participate in building our plans. By planning together, we gain a better understanding of each other's capabilities and limitations, and we develop relationships and learn to trust those who will be working with us when the disaster occurs.

Preparedness CycleA plan is not something that gets completed and then goes on a bookshelf until it gets updated. Planning is part of a cycle of preparedness. Plans guide how we organize and equip our responders, conduct training and  ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities within the plan. Exercises test our plans and identify where improvements are needed. Plans are then updated to incorporate lessons learned.  In developing our plans we utilize a number of guides and reflect on best practices developed by others.  These documents can be found in our Resource Library under Planning Related Information.

If you are interested in learning more about the City's plans, have feedback regarding a plan or would like to know how to get involved in our planning efforts, please send your comments to

Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan

The Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) is an all-hazards plan describing how the City of Seattle's emergency management system is organized and managed in order to prepare for, prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from any emergency that could adversely affect the health and safety of Seattle's residents, visitors, and environment. Through a series of documents the CEMP describes how City departments coordinate emergency management related actions, resources, and activities with county, regional, state, federal, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations.

Response & Emergency Support Functions

The Emergency Operations Plan is one of the plans that make up the City of Seattle's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). The Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) describes how the City will respond to save lives, protect property, and stabilize the incident. It describes how coordination is managed among the many departments and organizations that may be involved in response so that unity of effort may be achieved. The EOP has a number of supporting documents.

The EOP is supported by Emergency Support Functions (ESFs), Incident Operations Plans, and Support Operations Plan.

Federal, State, and local responders organize response operations by ESF, which provides a structure for coordinating common functions. Each ESF lists the roles and responsibilities that constitute a particular function and designate a City department as the lead. Also listed in each document are those departments, organizations, and partners that play a supporting role. This information provides guidance to departments in the development of plans, procedures and checklists. Seattle follows the national standard for numbering ESFs however, due to the Urban nature of the City, ESF #11 - Agriculture and Natural Resources is not represented in Seattle's ESF documents.

The City Incident Operations Plans and Support Operations Plans include hazard specific response strategies (winter storm, earthquake, and pandemic) and functional area strategies (alert and warning, evacuation, and military). Note, there is a name change on the documents from "Annex" to "Plans", though most of the content remains the same. Currently, this information can be found in the EOP document linked above, but as documents are updated they will be published separately below.

Seattle All Hazards Mitigation Plan. This is the guiding document for the city's hazard mitigation program. The plan lays out a strategy for minimizing the risk to people, property and the environment from natural and man-made hazards. View the Plan and Appendices.

Since 2012, Seattle has been working on the development of disaster recovery plans that include catastrophic events. Initial efforts on recovery planning resulted in the development of a preliminary Post-Disaster Recovery Plan Framework published in 2013.

Building off of this scoping effort, research and stakeholder engagement continued in 2014 and 2015. A review draft of the full 2015 City of Seattle Disaster Recovery Framework is now available.

Response to a disaster lasts until the fires are out, the survivors are rescued, and imminent danger is resolved. Recovery from a disaster often lasts months to years. This Disaster Recovery Framework was developed to address how the City would partner with the community and coordinate with County, State and Federal agencies in recovering from the effects of disaster using a massive earthquake as the premise.

Each City Department creates emergency plans to support the missions they are required to carry out under the City Charter and in the Seattle Disaster Readiness and Response Plan (SDRRP). These plans are coordinated with the SDRRP, other department plans, and regional plans as needed.  To find out more about specific plans for City Departments click the links below

Seattle City Light

Seattle Department of Transportation

While Seattle is the largest City within King County, the effectiveness of any plan relies on it fitting seamlessly within the larger plan. To this end, the Office of Emergency Management actively coordinates its planning efforts with King County. The following links provide information on County plans.

King County recently kicked off a county-wide, two-year planning process for crafting a comprehensive long-term recovery strategy following a major earthquake or other catastrophe, To learn more click here.

King County supports a number of programs and plans. To learn more about them click here.

Public Health Seattle King County - To learn more about Public Health preparedness plans click here.

Regional Catastrophic Plan

State and local emergency management agencies have the responsibility to identify hazards to their communities and prepare plans for managing hazardous incidents when and as they occur. The Puget Sound Catastrophic Disaster Coordination Plan (Coordination Plan) assists local, State, Federal, and private sector partners in coordinating their planning, response to and recovery from regional catastrophic incidents and disasters. The coordination plan is voluntary and available to all public, private, Tribal and non-profit entities in the 8-county Puget Sound Region encompassing (approximately from north to south) Island, Skagit, Snohomish, King, Kitsap, Pierce,Thurston and Mason counties. 

The coordination plan provides an all-hazards framework for coordination among local, state, tribal and federal entities prior to, during, and following a catastrophic incident in the Puget Sound area. The coordination plan and its annexes were developed to help local, state, tribal, federal, and private sectorpartners coordinate their planning for, response to and recovery from regional catastrophic incidents.The coordination plan and its annexes do not usurp or infringe on the authorities, plans, or procedures of any participating jurisdiction, agency, or organization. All necessary decisions affecting response, recovery,protective actions, public health and safety advisories, etc., are made by responsible officials under their existing authorities, policies, plans, and procedures. 
Learn more about the plan

State of Washington

The Washington State Military Department is charged with the responsibility of developing, maintaining and administering a comprehensive statewide program of emergency management to ensure the state is adequately prepared to respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies.  They have a number of plans that address this responsibility.  To learn more about them click here

All disasters start locally, but major events often require the assistance of the federal government. After the terrorist attacks on September 11 the federal government enacted several initiatives to improve the way that the country plans for and responds to large scale disasters. The following links provide information that sets the standard for how states, regions, and local municipalities structure and implement their emergency planning efforts.

Federal Emergency Management Agency National Planning Frameworks

Defense Support to Civil Authorities

National Preparedness System

National Incident Management System