Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

The CERT Program provides training to citizens in emergency preparedness and in basic response techniques. This lets them to take a more active role in personal and public safety. 

About the Program

This program is an opportunity for citizens to get involved and help their community in time of need. We know that major disasters can have catastrophic results and sometimes first responders who provide police, fire and emergency medical services are not able to immediately meet the need for these services. Often people ask what they can do to help during these critical incidents.

The CERT Program provides training to citizens in emergency preparedness and in basic response techniques thus enabling them to take a more active role in personal and public safety. Citizens will learn about the hazards they face in their community. Then after training is completed, they will use their training as part of a neighborhood or workplace team to help others when professional responders are overwhelmed and not immediately available.

Training consists of a 20 hour course that covers disaster preparedness, fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, terrorism and disaster psychology.

CERT members can also volunteer for special projects that improve the community’s preparedness. To find out more about plans for CERT in your community, contact your local Emergency Management Coordinator.

To learn more about CERT, visit

Policies and Procedures

    • President Bush introduced the Citizens Corps and asked that Americans volunteer their services to improve and safeguard our country. One opportunity for volunteers is the formation of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). CERT volunteers may be comprised of residents and business people of any background who wish to assist their neighbors. CERT volunteers will identify risks in our communities and determine what actions can be taken to improve our planning for, response to and recovery from of any type of disaster. Volunteers will be trained to the level needed to perform their assigned tasks. CERT members will understand that they are not first responders.
    • The Morris County CERT Council will oversee, give direction and monitor this program. The council will be composed of the following:
      County CERT Coordinator
    • The county CERT Coordinator will be responsible for conducting a CERT Program Manager course for all municipal CERT Coordinators. The county CERT Coordinator will be responsible for tracking the equipment and supply needs of all municipal CERT Coordinators and then submitting these requests through the NJSP Regional Coordinator. Municipalities must document their CERT program plans and implementation. The County Council will specify documentation requirements and review programs as they develop. A budget will be prepared based on grants available. The county CERT Council will approve expenditure of funds. Expenses must be documented to insure an adequate audit trail.  The county CERT Coordinator will prepare a report at the end of the year on the status of all municipal CERT Programs. The county CERT Coordinator is also a member of the Morris County Emergency Planning Council.
    • Municipal teams must have a minimum of five (5) members.
    • Members are not required to live in the municipality.
    • Members must be at least 18 years old.
    • All teams must complete a minimum of eight (8) blocks or units which take twenty (20) hours of training (FEMA Training). The material in the FEMA student manual must be covered.
    • The FEMA material may be modified to meet local needs. Additional subjects and training, e.g., EOC, Damage Assessment, Shelter Management, etc. may be covered as part of the municipal program.
    • There is no requirement for a background check of new members; however, this may be a local requirement.
    • Interview questions for new members must be consistent if used.
    • Teams will not be self-activated. They are considered a part of the local Office of Emergency Management and are activated by OEM.
    • No certificates will be awarded until the student(s) complete the entire FEMA/Municipal program. If a student misses a course they will make it up by attending other municipal courses, videos, self-studies of material, etc.
    • If a municipality cannot get five (5) volunteers they may combine with other municipalities to form a regional county team.
    • A regional leader will be appointed from one of the municipalities to be the leader of the team.
    • This regional leader will report to the Chair of the County CERT council.
    • The regional leader will complete the CERT Program Manager course before implementation of the CERT program and member training.
    • First, municipalities must decide if they wish to implement CERT.
    • The local attorney must be consulted to review liability issues as the program is developed.
    • The CERT Program will be a part of the municipal Office of Emergency Management.
    • The OEM Coordinator will be the leader unless a CERT Coordinator and/or a CERT Program Manager is appointed. The CERT Coordinator is the leader of the program and may choose to have a CERT Program Manager to assist in this effort.
    • All inquiries about the municipal CERT program will be directed to the local OEM.
    • The local CERT Coordinator must either attend or provide an individual (CERT Program Manager) to attend a two (2) day CERT Program Manager course offered by the County CERT Council.
    • The Program Manager will provide Morris County CERT Council with a copy of the FEMA/Municipal CERT Training Program prior to implementing the training.
    • CERT Program Plan
      The following material will be included in the municipal plan that describes how the CERT Program will be implemented in the jurisdiction.
      • Describe responsibilities that CERT members will carry out in the community.
      • Describe team formation and activation procedures.
      • Describe the staff to be used to support CERT training.
      • Describe how existing emergency agencies will be advised about how CERT will be used.
      • Describe how CERT teams will communicate with other agencies.
      • Describe how your municipal EOP will be modified and what local SOP’s will be written for CERT.
      • Describe your recruiting strategy to attract volunteers.
      • Describe your local public relations strategy to advise citizens of the Program. We recommend a minimum of three meetings per year after completion of the initial training.
      • Describe how you will retain CERT volunteers after initial training is completed.
      • Register your team and team members (See V. below)
    • Training
      • Describe what subjects and material will be covered. The Program must consist of the FEMA basic material plus any subjects that may be added for local benefit.
      • List trainers and their qualifications. Trainers must be qualified to teach their subject.
      • Keep class sign-in sheets to document attendance.
    • All municipalities that participate in the CERT initiative must register on the CERT web site to receive funding or equipment.
    • Each team member must complete a CERT Registration Form to receive a FEMA equipment kit. Copies are available from Morris County OEM. This form should be returned to Jeff Paul, County CERT Coordinator.
    • Municipal Teams may be listed on the FEMA website. Go to and click on Education/Training and go to CERT.
    • Municipal Teams may be listed on the Morris County Office of Emergency Management website. Contact the County CERT Coordinator to arrange for this listing.
    • Members must complete training on the FEMA basic material.
    • If the municipality has added additional subjects to their program, these subjects must also be covered before graduation.
    • Upon completion of training, a letter must be sent from the municipal CERT Coordinator to the County Cert Coordinator which includes the following:
      • Names of Students
      • List of Courses Completed
    • Upon completion, a Morris County CERT certificate and municipal OEM ID will be given to each team member.
    • Federal funds are available for certain equipment including:
      • Safety goggles
      • Vest
      • Hardhat
      • Work gloves
      • Dust mask
      • Carry bag
    • The Morris County CERT council will provide these items until funds are expended.