Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management
and Business Continuity Programs
NFPA 1600 "Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs" is published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA is an American National Standards Institute Accredited Standards Developer (SDO). It was founded in 1896 and is an independent, not-for-profit, organization whose mission is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. NFPA has over 80,000 members in more than 100 nations.
The Technical Committee on Emergency Management and Business Continuity (formerly known as the Disaster Management Committee) was established by the NFPA Standards Council in January 1991. The committee was given the responsibility for developing documents relating to preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters resulting from natural, human, or technological events.
The technical committee includes a maximum of 36 members plus alternates and nonvoting members from the United States, Canada, and abroad. Members come from the private sector and public sector (federal, state, and local government). Private sector industry representatives include financial services, insurance, energy, health care, manufacturing, higher education, and consultants. Members represent DRI (Disaster Recovery Institute) International, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), NEMA's Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP), and the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).
NFPA 1600 was first published in 1995 and titled "Recommended Practice for Disaster Management." The second edition of NFPA was adopted in 2000 in the form of a "standard." Nonmandatory language in the document ("should") was changed to mandatory language ("shall") throughout. This edition also incorporated a “total program approach” for disaster/emergency management and business continuity with common program elements, techniques, and processes.
The 2004 edition was published in April 2004. The standard continued to evolve, and it was reformatted to comply with NFPA's Manual of Style.
In January 2004 following the terrorist attacks of September 11, the 9/11 Commission investigated the preparedness of private sector organizations and asked the American National Standards Institute to develop a consensus on a "National Standard for Preparedness" for the private sector. The result of these sessions was ANSI's [Homeland Security Standards Panel] recommendation that the Commission endorse a voluntary National Preparedness Standard―NFPA 1600®. The 9/11 Commission formerly recommended the adoption and use of NFPA 1600 in Chapter 12 of the 9/11 Commission Report:
"We endorse the American National Standards Institute's recommended standard for private preparedness. We were encouraged by Secretary Tom Ridge's praise of the standard, and urge the Department of Homeland Security to promote its adoption. We also encourage the insurance and credit-rating industries to look closely at a company's compliance with the ANSI standard in assessing its insurability and creditworthiness. We believe that compliance with the standard should define the standard of care owed by a company to its employees and the public for legal purposes. Private-sector preparedness is not a luxury; it is a cost of doing business in the post-9/11 world. It is ignored at a tremendous potential cost in lives, money, and national security."
This recommendation has since been restated in two federals laws--Public 108-458 and most recently within Title IX of Public Law 110-53, which calls for voluntary certification of private sector preparedness programs. [click here for details on PL 110-53 and the voluntary program.]
The 2007 edition expanded the phases of emergency management and business continuity programs to identify both prevention and mitigation--not just mitigation. For a more complete review of the changes to the 2007 edition, check out "An Update on NFPA 1600" published in the DISASTER-RESOURCE Guide.
The 2010 edition of NFPA 1600 has been reordered and expanded. Chapter 4, Program Management, was expanded to emphasize the importance of leadership and commitment; includes new requirements for defining performance objectives; and includes new requirements for records management. Finance and administration was also moved to the program management chapter. The most noticeable change from the 2007 edition is the rewriting of Chapter 5 into four chapters addressing planning, implementation, testing and exercises, and program improvement. The ordering of these chapters follows a typical program development process and is consistent with “plan, do, check, act” or continuous improvement processes. Requirements for business impact analysis, which had been previously been covered under the heading of “risk assessment” are now a separate section within Chapter 5. Chapter 6, Implementation, includes a new section on employee assistance and support. Testing and exercising was expanded within the new Chapter 7, and evaluations and corrective action have been incorporated into a new Chapter 8 on program improvement.
Be sure to check our Annex C (self-assessment checklist to evaluate conformity with the standard), and Annex D, which provides a crosswalk between NFPA 1600 and management system program elements.
The 2013 edition of NFPA 1600, "Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs" is complete. You can download the 2013 edition (free) from the NFPA website (be sure to select the free PDF download). You can monitor the progress of the technical committee by visiting the NFPA website.
If you want to learn about the 2013 edition of NFPA 1600, view the Emergency Management Forum's webinar, or read Chair Don Schmidt's interview titled "The Role of Standards in Emergency Management" that was published in Emergency Management Magazine on June 3, 2013.
NFPA 1600 has been approved, adopted, or endorsed by many different organizations including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under their category of "Standards for Business Continuity and Emergency Preparedness." The 2010 edition has been endorsed by the Association of Contingency Planners (ACP), DRI International (the Disaster Recovery Institute), and the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). The 2007 edition was endorsed by the National Emergency Management Association, and the IAEM. Both the 2007 and 2010 editions of NFPA 1600 have been designated by DHS for use as the criteria for voluntary certification of private sector preparedness programs called for by Title IX of Public Law 110-53. It has also been incorporated by reference into other codes and standards.
NFPA 1600 has been approved as an American National Standard by the American National Standards Institute. NFPA 1600 has also received designation and certification as qualified anti-terrorism technology under the SAFETY Act.
If you become aware of any documents that reference NFPA 1600, please email us with the details.
EEmergency Management Forum Focuses on NFPA 1600
The Emergency Management Forum has hosted two webinars on NFPA 1600 with Technical Committee Chair, Donald L. Schmidt, ARM, CBCP, CBCLA, CEM as the presenter. The first presentation and interactive discussion was held on February 25, 2009. It discussed the 2010 edition of NFPA 1600. A second forum was held on March 28, 2012 to review the 2013 edition. Webinars are available for viewing and listening from the Emergency Management Forum's website.
Links to download NFPA 1600, view prior editions, purchase the handbook, or inquire about NFPA 1600 professional development training can be found in the sidebar at the top right of this page. In addition, multiple presentations discussing NFPA 1600 can be found on our "news" page.
Click here to download a 7 page self-assessment tool based on the 2007 edition of NFPA 1600. Use it to evaluate your emergency management and business continuity program. This is not an "official" checklist, but it is more detailed than the checklist within NFPA 1600-2007. The checklist within NFPA 1600 is limited to text from the standard and Annex A.
Formal interpretations of NFPA 1600 must be submitted to NFPA in accordance with its rules. Questions about NFPA 1600 can be submitted to NFPA's Standards Administration. If you need assistance with the evaluation, development, or implementation of your emergency management and business continuity program, please contact click here.