The world’s largest organization of public works professionals and the Federal Emergency Management Agency signed a three-year memorandum of understanding to advance FEMA’s mission and goals to protect lives and property and the American Public Works Association’s mission of serving public works officials before, during and after disasters. “With this MOU, APWA and FEMA formalize their on-going relationship that has always been mutually beneficial in serving the public,” APWA CEO Scott D. Grayson, CAE, said today following the signing of the memorandum at FEMA headquarters. “The memorandum highlights the fact that public works professionals are first responders who work hand-in-hand with FEMA and other emergency workers to get communities back on their feet after disasters.”

According to the MOU, “Public works is ready to perform properly when disaster strikes (preparedness) and to serve as an essential member of a community’s team of first responders once hazardous events take place (response).” While APWA has had a long and positive relationship with the federal agency – and the federal government has, in the past, recognized public works as first responders – the memorandum outlines areas that FEMA and APWA agree to separately, such as share FEMA messaging and information and contributing emergency management articles.

It also outlines seven objectives where FEMA and APWA jointly agree, such as:

  • Cooperate to educate the American public and other organizations on disaster preparedness with emphasis on implementing effective prevention and mitigation measures;
  • Cooperate to understand the needs of local public works emergency professionals and how to best prepare them to serve the community; and
  • Cooperate to provide materials or services for mitigation and preparedness for natural disasters, including informational reports, checklists, training guidelines, and other communications and coordination tools.

“Through joint activities, APWA and FEMA will assist public works emergency professionals to successfully manage the public works infrastructure and facilities and ensure livable communities,” the memorandum says. “And through embracing new and emerging practices and technologies, APWA and FEMA will capitalize on opportunities to improve services today and in the future.” APWA’s MOU with FEMA begins today and expires in 2025.

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