Security Planning for Houses of Worship

FEMA has issued a new document that titled Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship, issued in June 2013. The full text (38 pp.) is available here.

On July 25, the agency provided an hour plus audio webinar on the report. The Diva attended, but was rather bored with the lengthy introduction of the document and the people involved in its preparation. The report is helpful, but not as useful as it might be in my opinion. I would like to see more specifics and some actual examples (some reality grounding); perhaps this can be accomplished in future editions of this document.

The Diva has had some first-hand experience with such a plan, having helped her place of worship obtain a small grant in order to write a plan and do staff training. Since the institution is in Washington, DC, it is not a problem getting the clergy, administration, and staff already were well aware of the need and were willing to get engaged.

Both the briefing and the Guide make some faulty assumptions, in my opinion. Much of what is offered does not get to the essentials of what houses of worship need – they need far less info on the FEMA approach to planning. The audience addressed consists of people whose focus is not emergency management primarily – so they will not get the nuances of emergency management jargon, engage in formal processes, and they not have a lot of time and help to get a plan written.

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