Skip to the Content

Mission, Legal Notices, Rules, Regulations & Laws


To coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders.


Duties of the State Emergency Management Agency

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) is empowered by state law and by the Governor’s executive authority (executive orders) to protect the public from disasters and emergencies. TEMA provides multipliers of assistance by reaching out for mutual aid from other departments or agencies of the state, from local jurisdictions, from other states and from the federal government. TEMA manages the flow of materiel and special teams and services to the incident commander. The foundation for this authority is Tennessee Code Annotated   58-2-101 through TCA 58-2-124. TEMA manages millions of dollars of federal grants and assistance provided to help people recover. TEMA and the SEOC perform as the staff of the Governor during a state declaration of emergency. TEMA and the SEOC are charged by law to ensure that the orders of the Governor are implemented and enforced.  

Duties of the County Emergency Management Agencies

The county emergency management agency is the first line of defense in responding to emergencies in their jurisdiction. TCA 58-2-110 requires counties to develop a county emergency management plan that is consistent with the TEMP and emergency management program to ensure an effective response and recovery. This plan, called a basic emergency operations plan (BEOP), must be periodically reviewed and approved by TEMA. Conceptually, local emergency management responders deal with an emergency in their jurisdiction with their assets and with as much additional support that may be provided by intrastate mutual aid or assistance under TCA 58-8-101. When the emergency exceeds the local jurisdiction's capability, the county may request additional assistance from higher levels of government. The mayor or his authorized representative, typically the emergency management director, may request formal assistance from other jurisdictions, including state and federal help.

Legal Notices - Public Participation Calendar

Click here to view the Public Participation Calendar

Click the above link and search for "Tennessee Emergency Management Agency" to view any upcoming public meetings of the State Emergency Response Committee.

TEMA will announce meetings of the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) on the public participation calendar to ensure that the public is aware of scheduled meetings. The SERC is formed to meet the federal requirements of law under Public Law 499, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

Inquiries about the SERC can be directed to Donnie Smith at 615-741-1453 or

The membership of the SERC includes:

  • The Director of TEMA (chairman)
  • The Adjutant General, Department of Military
  • Commissioner, Department of Environment and Conservation
  • Commissioner, Department of Health
  • Commissioner, Department of Labor and Workforce Development
  • --must also be present or be represented by Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Speaking Rules:

Persons wishing to address the SERC must notify the Chairman to be placed on the agenda and may be granted five minutes to speak or raise issues. The chairman may grant additional time.

Rules and Regulations

The are several state laws, regulations and Executive Orders that apply to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, its activities and/or disasters and emergencies in Tennessee in general. For precise guidance, please go directly to the reference cited.

Executive Orders of the Governor

Governor's Executive Order 15

Governor Ned McWherter's Executive Order 15 is the document that establishes TEMA as the lead agency for the coordination of all emergency response activities of state government. EO15 also establishes the Emergency Services Coordinator (ESC) program, and requires the Commissioners and directors of all state agencies to designate a primary and alternate ESC, and provide them with a state vehicle, pager, cellular phone and radio capable of communicating with TEMA.

Governor's Executive Order 7

Governor Ned McWherter's Executive Order 7 makes TEMA the lead agency for carrying out the provisions of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, specifically making TEMA the administrative arm of the State Emergency Response Council.

Governor's Executive Order 49

Governor Phil Bredesen's Executive Order 49 establishes the State of Tennessee Public Safety Wireless Interoperable Communications Advisory Board to encourage public departments and agencies to purchase similar communications equipment that will operate with each other. This is intended to ensure that the improved exchange of information would expansively improve government cooperation and performance during emergencies.

Attorney General's Opinions



According to the Attorney General (OAG 09-140) the director of a county emergency management agency may establish a secondary emergency operating center somewhere in the county when the mayor has approved the measure and when the county commission has approved the measure. This is so even if the city where the center is operated will pay for it.

The opinion further clarifies that the mayor is in charge (command and control) of the emergency management agency, not any commissioner or other official. The act does not give the county mayor sole authority over all decisions of the emergency management agency, but requires the approval of the county commission. The intent of the law is likely to require the county commission to develop or approve the emergency plan and any plan which would require fiscal expenditure. 

VOLUNTEERS- According to the Attorney General (OAG 04-174), volunteers do not qualify for “worker’s compensation benefits in the event of death or injury.” “Volunteers” are individuals who do not work for the government of the State of Tennessee. This definition does not include any employee of the government volunteering for service not typically in the employee’s normal duty or at the employee’s normal workplace. Volunteers still must be registered with the Board of Claims.  Volunteers are provided “sovereign immunity” in states that have reciprocal agreements for emergency management. Volunteers must be reimbursed for all actual and necessary travel and subsistence if funds are available. If a person is paid more than expenses, that person is no longer a volunteer. TEMA policy is that volunteers will not be deployed outside the state as part of a federal or state team under EMAC or any other emergency management program. This ensures that state law (TCA 58-2-403) (EMAC agreement) requirements are met regarding payment of compensation for deaths or injuries in the line of duty.

Emergency Management References in State Law

There are several state laws that apply to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, its activities and/or disasters and emergencies in Tennessee in general.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2

TCA 58-2-101 - Disasters, Emergencies and Civil Defense, is the organic act that establishes TEMA, and defines what constitutes an emergency within Tennessee. This chapter also requires each county within the state to create and staff an emergency management organization, and directs that all local emergency plans conform to the design and functional requirements of the state's. Additionally, the law that previously existed as TCA 7-86-201 (the Public Safety Communications Act), has now been subsumed into this chapter. This is the legislation that creates the Public Safety Committee and defines standards for emergency dispatchers and the training they receive. This chapter runs through section 58-2-124.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2, Part 4

TCA 58-2-401 - Authority for Compact. This part authorizes civil defense and disaster compacts to be formed by the Governor. This includes the Civil Defense and Disaster Compact and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Articles of the agreements are found here.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2, Part 6

TCA 58-2-601 - Accidents Involving Hazardous Materials.  This part establishes a requirement to report hazardous materials accidents involving placarded transportation, other notifications and cleanup requirements.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 8

TCA 58-8-101 - Mutual Aid and Emergency and Disaster Assistance Agreement Act of 2004. This chapter consists of 15 sections that grant special powers to counties to invoke mutual aid provisions.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 65, Chapter 15, Section 126

TCA 65-15-126 requires persons transporting nuclear fuel through the state of Tennessee to notify TEMA and the Department of Safety of the act, and to provide for the appropriate safety precautions and escorts for the vehicles.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 68, Chapter 202, Section 104

TCA 68-202-104 requires the agency to provide training in the detection and monitoring of radioactive materials to personnel who staff the four commercial vehicle inspection centers across the state.

Emergency Management Law Changes

Law from 2011

HB 0544/SB 1476 w/Amendment # 3 was passed and coded as TCA 58-2-133. Education and Duty Requirements of Local Emergency Management Directors (LEMD). The law, Public Chapter 365, establishes minimum prerequisites for employment of new LEMD. A new director must have the minimum training and education required by the chief local elected official (CLEO) (usually the county mayor) in a job description approved by the governing body of the local jurisdiction, plus--

        •   be 18 years of age
        •   be a citizen of the U.S. and Tennessee
        •   be a high school graduate or equivalent
        •   not be convicted or guilty of a felony
        •   and, have a valid Tennessee driver's license


  •   be serving as director of a local emergency management agency on July 1, 2011 and have one of the following--
  •  be a graduate and have received a baccalaureate degree, or
  •  be a graduate and have received an associate's degree and have two years experience in emergency management or a related field, or
  •  possess four years experience in emergency management or a related field.

The LEMD must maintain knowledge of the--

  • principles and practices of emergency management
  • emergency management planning concepts
  • disaster response and the functions of government and private organizations
  • laws and regulations relating to emergency operations, and
  • computer operations and the operation of other basic office equipment.  

The LEMD must possess the skill and ability to--

  • plan, organize, assign, inspect and direct the work of others
  • evaluate situations and make coherent decisions
  • express ideas clearly, concisely and convincingly, both orally and in writing, including communicating under stressful situations
  • establish and maintain an effective working relationship with the public, businesses, industries, volunteers and employees,
  • operate an emergency response vehicle and communications equipment
  • work from a mobile unit and outdoors in all types of weather conditions during an emergency and simulated situations, and
  • direct the activities of a 24-hour 7 days-a-week operation.

The LEMD has the following duties and responsibilities in addition to those imposed upon him by his approved job description--

  • performs under executive direction (CLEO)
  • coordinates and assists in the revision and update of the local emergency operations plan and field operating guides in conjunction with elected and appointed local government officials and private volunteer and civic organizations
  • develops and manages the local agency's annual budget in accordance with local guidance
  • collects initial disaster intelligence information, extracts essential elements of information and prioritizes the use of critical resources
  • prepares and transmits situation reports to TEMA as directed by state procedures
  • assesses the impact of major emergencies and initiates requests for declaration of emergency for the CLEO's signature
  • serves as the focal point for damage assessment information and coordinates relief activities through the CLEO and the regional and state emergency operations center
  • promotes and supervises the development of various emergency management related public education and information services, such as training programs, brochures, speaking opportunities and media programs
  • develops and maintains an emergency operations center to ensure direction, control and continuity of local government during emergencies and disasters
  • conducts hazard analysis, capability assessment and vulnerability analysis and makes periodic updates
  • remains "on call" for response to any type of disaster or major emergency, natural, man-made or technological
  • provide assistance to private sector organizations on issues pertaining to emergency management and homeland security
  • provide resource coordination and technical assistance during major emergencies and disasters
  • prepares after action reports, as required
  • develops and implements activities relative to emergency management within the territorial limits of the emergency management area for which the director has jurisdiction
  • establishes emergency management standards for the jurisdiction
  • develops and implements the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to mitigate, prepare for, response to and recover from major emergencies, terrorist events and disasters, and
  • performs duties directed by the CLEO.

The LEMD must attain the following minimum education--

  • Minimum training and education established by the CLEO
  • FEMA courses established by TEMA
  • HAZMAT Operations Level Course
  • Damage Assessment Workshop
  • NIMS courses offered by TEMA within two years of position assignment
  • Attain emergency management professional certification
  • Maintain currency in new technologies.

These requirements are integrated into TCA 58-2-133. Passed into law May 30, 2011 and effective July 1, 2011.

Law from 2010

Chapter No. 1091 (HB2822/SB2839). National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) participation required. Amends TCA Title 6, Chapter 58 by requiring all counties and municipalities with a flood insurance rate map or flood hazard boundary map published by FEMA that identifies a special flood hazard area within its boundaries to meet the requirements for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on or before June 30, 2012. A county or municipality without such a map must, within twenty four (24) months from the effective date of any such map published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), meet the requirements for participation in the NFIP

Laws from 2009

These acts may directly affect operations of emergency management.

SB-0890/HB-0713 - Emergency Management -

Changes emergency management director to report to the chief local elected official and requires the CLEO to write the LEMD's job description.

SB-1243/HB-0815 - Emergency Management

Changes laser pointer law

Adds firefighters, emergency medical technicians and any other emergency management personnel to the law that prohibits pointing a laser at a law enforcement officer with the intent to harm.

SB-0107/HB-0393 - Motor Vehicles

Prohibits reading or sending a text message by mobile phone or other device; $50 fine and $10 court cost; officers, firemen and emergency management in official duty are exempted.

HB-0980/SB-1685 - TEMA

Coordinates governmental and private utility systems in disaster; requires 100 percent reimbursement to a responding governmental or private utility helping another under mutual aid chapter 8, Title 58.

HB-1778/SB-1992 - Gun control

Prohibits governor from seizing weapons while under martial law

Chapter 853. (10-7-504)

Safeguarding confidential information on laptops and removable storage devices used by government. Requires state agencies to create safeguards and procedures for ensuring that confidential information regarding citizens is securely protected on all laptop computers and other removable storage devices. Failure to comply creates a cause of action or claim for damages against the state.
  Chapter 693. (55-8-158)
Parking or leaving a motor vehicle on an exit or entrance ramp. No person shall stop, park or leave any motor vehicle, attended or unattended, on the paved or unpaved portion of any entrance or exit ramp of any highway. Provisions are made for emergencies and compliance with federal law.
  Chapter 853. (10-7-504)

Confidential status of personal information of government employees. Amends protected information of state employees to include home telephone and personal cell phone numbers, residential information, including the street address, city, state and zip code (same for county, municipal and other public employees). [adds to previously existing law: unpublished telephone numbers, bank account information, driver's license information (except as it applies to the state job duties), social security number and same information for state employees' immediate family or household members.]