National Response

Framework & Best Practices

The National Response Framework (NFR) is an essential component of the National Preparedness System mandated in Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8 and is a guide to how the Nation responds to all types of disasters and emergencies. It is built on scalable, flexible, and adaptable concepts identified in the National Incident Management System to align key roles and responsibilities across the Nation. This Framework describes specific authorities and best practices for managing incidents that range from the serious but purely local to large-scale terrorist attacks or catastrophic natural disasters. The National Response Framework describes the principles, roles and responsibilities, and coordinating structures for delivering the core capabilities required to respond to an incident and further describes how response efforts integrate with those of the other mission areas.  Selective implementation of National Response Framework structures and procedures allows for a scaled response, delivery of the specific resources and capabilities, and a level of coordination appropriate to each incident.

The Response mission area focuses on ensuring that the Nation is able to respond effectively to all types of incidents that range from those that are adequately handled with local assets to those of catastrophic proportion that require marshaling the capabilities of the entire Nation. The objectives of the Response mission area define the capabilities necessary to save lives, protect property and the environment, meet basic human needs, stabilize the incident, restore basic services and community functionality, and establish a safe and secure environment moving toward the transition to recovery.

In implementing the National Response Framework to build national preparedness, partners are encouraged to develop a shared understanding of broad-level strategic implications as they make critical decisions in building future capacity and capability. The whole community should be engaged in examining and implementing the strategy and doctrine contained in this Framework, considering both current and future requirements in the process.

The NRF sets the doctrine for how the Nation builds, sustains, and delivers the response core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal (the Goal). The Goal establishes the capabilities and outcomes the Nation must accomplish across all five mission areas in order to be secure and resilient.

  • Prevention: The capabilities necessary to avoid, prevent, or stop a threatened or actual act of terrorism. As defined by PPD-8, the term “prevention” refers to preventing imminent threats. Core capabilities for prevention can be downloaded here.
  • Protection: The capabilities necessary to secure the homeland against acts of terrorism and manmade or natural disasters. Core capabilities for protection can be found here.
  • Mitigation: The capabilities necessary to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.
  • Response: The capabilities necessary to save lives, protect property and the environment, and meet basic human needs after an incident has occurred.
  • Recovery: The capabilities necessary to assist communities affected by an incident to recover effectively.

The NRF is composed of a base document, Emergency Support Function (ESF) Annexes, Support Annexes, and Incident Annexes (see Figure 1). The annexes provide detailed information to assist with the implementation of the NRF. Additional information on the National Response Framework can be found on the PDF below

  • ESF Annexes describe the Federal coordinating structures that group resources and capabilities into functional areas that are most frequently needed in a national response.
  • Support Annexes describe the essential supporting processes and considerations that are most common to the majority of incidents.
  • Incident Annexes describe the unique response aspects of incident categories.
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Presidential Policy Directive – PPD 8 

Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8) describes the Nation’s approach to national preparedness. By doing so, PPD-8 links together national preparedness efforts using the following key elements:

National Preparedness System (how we get there)

  • National Planning System (what we deliver)—a series of National Frameworks and Federal Interagency Operational Plans
  • Annual National Preparedness Report (how well we are doing)
  • Whole Community Initiative (whom we engage)—a campaign to build and sustain preparedness

National preparedness is a shared responsibility. The PPD is designed to facilitate an integrated, all-of-nation/whole community, capabilities-based approach to preparedness.

Involving the whole community—federal partners; state, local and tribal leaders; the private sector; nongovernmental organizations; community groups, including disability services and advocacy organizations and private-sector programs; and most importantly the general public— is vital to keeping people and communities safe and preventing the loss of life and property when disasters strike.

Additional information on each of these preparedness elements can be found below.


Core Capabilities: Prevention

Prevent, avoid or stop an imminent, threatened or actual act of terrorism

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Core Capabilities: Protection

Protect our citizens, residents, visitors and assets against the greatest threats and hazards in manner that allows our interests, aspirations and way of life to thrive.

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