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FAQ




What does PEMA do?

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency works to plan responses to, prevent loss from, communicate news about, coordinate resources for and help communities recover from natural and manmade disasters and emergencies.

That sounds like Civil Defense. Is it?

Emergency management agencies evolved from the old national system of civilian defense.  Civil Defense was largely concerned with protecting populations from cold war threats. Today, emergency management agencies deal with wider ranges of issues, from floods and earthquakes to enterprise recovery planning and protection from terrorism.

Where does PEMA fit into state government?

PEMA is an executive agency reporting directly to the Governor of the Commonwealth. PEMA has a unique role to play in coordinating the resources of virtually every state agency in times of disaster or emergency. PEMA's prime responsibility is to support county emergency managers and their organizations; county agencies, in turn, support local boroughs, cities and townships.

Does PEMA play a role in Homeland Security?

Most definitely. PEMA and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, together with other state, county and local agencies, are deeply involved in training response forces to deal with terrorist incidents. Planners on the PEMA staff work extensively with counties to develop plans to minimize threats to our security. Our administrative personnel manage programs providing equipment to local responders. Most important, however, is the day-to-day coordination of information, plans and procedures relating to the commonwealth's homeland security needs.

What is FEMA?

FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, PEMA's federal partner.  FEMA's main role is to support PEMA and other state emergency management agencies.

Does my local community have an emergency management agency?

It should. Under commonwealth law, every town, borough, city and township in Pennsylvania is required to establish and maintain an emergency management agency and have an emergency management coordinator. The responsibility of local emergency management agencies is to maximize the utilization of local resources to prevent, plan for, respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies.

How can I get involved?

Contact your local government and let officials know you are interested in helping with emergency management work.

Is training required?

Certain levels of training are mandatory for EMA coordinators at the county level, and county EMAs are required to provide training to local coordinators. PEMA strongly recommends basic and advanced training for all emergency management personnel.

Is there a cost?

Most training is provided free of charge, however, there may be costs associated with travel, accomodations and meals associated with out-of-area programs Some of PEMA's basic training will soon be available online, free-of-charge. Local governments, in most cases, provide reimbursement to emergency management personnel for legitimate, pre-approved attendance at training programs. Ask you local community's leadership what policies and procedures are in place.

How large is PEMA?

PEMA is a small agency with approximately 140 employees working in six locales. These personnel work in our Bureaus of Recovery and Mitigation, Operations and Training, Plans and Preparedness, Technical Services, and Administration. PEMA offices are located in Harrisburg, Hamburg and Indiana. A specialized equipment depot and repair facility is located at Ft. Indiantown Gap. In addition, the Office of the State Fire Commissioner is located within PEMA and headquartered in Harrisburg; the State Fire Academy is located in Lewistown.

In an emergency, how can I contact PEMA?

If there's an emergency, dial 911 (or other, local 7-digit emergency number in some areas) and report the emergency locally. As the scope of an emergency is determined, county emergency management agencies communicate with PEMA through our 24-hour Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

What's an EOC?

An Emergency Operations Center is essentially the 'nerve center' of the emergency management system. At PEMA's level, the Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center is a technologically advanced facility staffed around the clock by highly-trained personnel. During emergencies, personnel from other state agencies also staff the EOC. At the county and local levels, EOCs also are the central coordination point for response and recovery efforts. These facilities range from large and highly-sophisticated to small and simple; the 'bottom line' is that the essential tasks are accomplished.

Question: Is postage for mailing invitations to day care centers to come to EOP training an allowable expense?
Answer:
Yes.
 
Question: Are activities to assist local day care providers in writing their plans acceptable costs under the FY 04 State Planning and Training Grant?
Answer:
Yes. Planning workshops or outreach programs to help get plans written or properly filed fall within this deliverable.
 
Question: Is postage to mail incoming day care plans to the appropriate municipalities an allowable expense?
Answer:
Yes. This would include the cost of postage to conduct mass mailings to potential planning or training partners, or to cover the cost of mailing plans or training material. (HQ to send email to areas outlining how the counties might choose to address what was considered in some counties as a problem – that is that the day care plans were being sent to the county (who doesn’t want them) without coordinating with their municipality’s resources, e.g. fire and police).
 
Question: Are tables and chairs for training areas eligible expenses?
Answer: Yes.
 
Question: Are radios and Gateways for communications/damage assessment eligible?
Answer: Yes, however the issue of inter-operability must be considered when purchasing.
 
Question: Can the counties use the State planning and training grant to pay for left-over expenses on their EOP efforts?
Answer: Yes, but it is recommended the counties use their 2003 supplemental federal homeland security funds first (which has a county EOP deliverable) before dipping into their state grant; counties only get reimbursed actual expenditures with the federal grant, but with the state grant all funds will be awarded if all deliverables are met.
 
Question: Can a county substitute the self-assessment in the grant deliverables for its 2004 ASOW?
Answer: No; the two documents serve different purposes, and there can be no mixing of federal (ASOW) and State (planning and training grant) funds.
 
Question: If a county has incurred more expenses than funds awarded in the “advance” funding of the grant, can a county request additional advance funding?
Answer: Yes. If a county has incurred more expenses than the advance amount of the grant, it should immediately submit a reimbursement request, with documentation, for that amount. Also, anytime a county incurs an expense, that invoice may be forwarded to PEMA for reimbursement.
 
Question: What is the reporting process for acknowledging that grant deliverables are met, and the balance of grant funds are requested?
Answer: The counties must send a report to the PEMA area offices explaining the completion of the deliverables and how it was done; the area offices will review the report and notify the appropriate PEMA bureau(s) of its concurrence (or non-concurrence; if non-concur, the county will be given the opportunity to explain or complete); and the PEMA bureau chiefs will notify Grants Management of their concurrence and a check will be cut. (Just like last year’s grant process.)