Exercise Requirements


The following guidelines have been developed by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) in accordance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a result of the Performance Partnership Agreement (PPA).

The Performance Partnership Agreement between the NJOEM and FEMA requires the development of municipal and county Emergency Operations Plans (EOP’s) and the exercising of these EOP’s.

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, in its Performance Partnership Agreement with county and municipal jurisdictions, requires participation in the State OEM’s exercise program.

This planning process is an essential and legally mandated element of every jurisdiction’s overall emergency management program. Complimenting the planning aspect of a jurisdiction’s preparedness efforts are their attempts to test these Plans through Exercising. The State OEM has made exercising a program emphasis area and is intent on having the counties and municipalities participate in a manner that demonstrates the effectiveness of their plans and the capability of their response and recovery personnel.

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management continues to incorporate the exercise program theories advocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Therefore, the following statements reflect the State OEM’s goals:

The purpose of the NJOEM’s Exercise Program is to develop and improve the ability of other State departments and agencies, county and local governments, volunteer organizations, and the private sector to prepare for and respond to emergency and disaster situations in an effective and efficient manner, thereby saving lives, property and the environment.
The objective of the NJOEM’s exercise program is to develop and implement policies, guidance, and standards for scheduling, designing, conducting, evaluating and reporting comprehensive emergency management exercises at all levels of government, in concert with private industry and volunteer agencies. Exercises should be used to test existing plans, policies and procedures as well as personnel and equipment resources. The functional areas of a jurisdiction’s Plan should be exercised in the context of the hazard analyses and risk assessments conducted by the respective Offices of Emergency Management. This practice assures realistic exercise activity. Additionally, exercises should involve inter-governmental activity or considerations between local, county, state and federal levels of government.
As per NJOEM Directives and the current County and Municipal Emergency Management Assistance Work plans, all jurisdictions in the State of New Jersey are required to conduct annual emergency management exercises, corresponding to the federal fiscal year, in order to test the effectiveness of their Emergency Operations Plan. All EMA jurisdictions are now required to participate in, at the minimum, a tabletop exercise during any fiscal year. However, the State Office of Emergency Management has re-instituted the practice of Counties submitting four-year exercise plans (beginning in FY-97). FEMA currently asks the states to prepare and include in their cooperative agreement, a multi-year year exercise strategy that serves as a reference document for overall program goals and objectives, (to be realized through the exercise process). The State OEM believes this to be a valuable way of providing direction for any program and asks that the counties follow suit and develop strategies for testing their plans. This multiyear exercise program will be submitted to the Regional Emergency Management Office by March 1, 1997.A jurisdiction’s entire EOP should be tested during this four-year period, again in relation to their hazard analysis. This requirement does not compel jurisdictions to select four different hazards in each of the four years, but rather, seeks to encourage a logical sequencing of exercises, each one building on the previous exercise’s results or testing other areas of the Plan. At least one exercise in the four years must be a full-scale exercise and involve other jurisdictions, volunteer agencies, and private business/industry.

Those counties who have received Survivable Crisis Management (SCM) funding for EOC construction, will be required to conduct, at least, one “joint exercise” of their alternate state EOC with the State OEM, biannually.

An exercise program utilizing NJOEM and FEMA standards will incorporate the following elements: a hazard-specific scenario, a listing of exercise objectives, identification of the annexes (of the Plan) to be tested, a sequence list of major events, a list of detailed events/messages, and an identified method of evaluation that reflects the objective being examined and any pertinent reference document or SOP that establishes a standard to be met by the activity being conducted and observed.
  1. ORIENTATION SEMINAR: Used to lay the proper foundation for a jurisdiction to proceed in the exercise process. An excellent opportunity to include elected officials in the process, thereby garnering their cooperation, support, and possible participation. The focus is on familiarization with roles, procedures, responsibilities and the personalities of a jurisdiction’s emergency management system. It is designed to elicit constructive discussion by the exercise participants on the policies of the county/municipal OEM and the existing Emergency Operations Plan, as it relates to the hazard scenario.
  2. TABLETOP EXERCISE: Activities at which elected/appointed officials, LEPC members, and key OEM and participating agency staff are assembled to informally discuss simulated emergency situations as injected by an exercise controller. This constructive discussion is conducted without time constraints and decisions are made based on the existing Emergency Operations Plan.
  3. FUNCTIONAL EXERCISE: Designed to evaluate, under simulated conditions and using time constraints, the policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities within the jurisdiction’s emergency management system. Seven (7) areas of a jurisdiction’s Plan will be tested during the actual exercise. Evaluation of the exercise activity will take place and be documented in a manner that ensures follow-up or corrective measures are taken and Plans adapted. The EOC is normally utilized during exercise play.
  4. FULL-SCALE EXERCISE: Designed to test the emergency management systems in an interactive mariner and using realistic but simulated events, injected in a time-pressured format. Seven (7) functional annexes of a jurisdiction’s plan will be incorporated into the exercise play. This level of exercise involves actual movement of emergency personnel and equipment (resources), to demonstrate field coordination of all participating response and recovery elements with the EOC, which must be activated. As with the functional exercise, an evaluation methodology will be applied and the results documented.
An actual occurrence is defined as any natural, technological, or government security event, which happens in your jurisdiction and for which a coordinated emergency response and/or recovery operation is required. This includes large-scale events that result in Presidential Declarations, major disasters, and those events of lesser magnitude that still require significant local, county and/or state response. County and Municipal Emergency Management Programs remain eligible to receive Full-Scale exercise credit for their involvement in actual occurrences, providing the following criteria are met:


Municipal Level
Community must have an approved EOP Activation of a Command Post, demonstrated use of ICS and/or activation of their EOC.A representative of the municipal OEM must be on-scene and notification of the county OEM staff must occur.


A minimum of seven (7) EOP annexes tested during the incident response

A formal critique conducted after the event and moderated by a member of the municipal OEM staff and a representative of the county OEM staff in attendance.

Submission of FEMA Exercise Reporting Form (95-44) within thirty (30) days through the County Office of Emergency Management to the State OEM Regional Office. The narrative summary (Section- IV) of the Form must detail the OEM involvement in the response. Areas needing improvement should be listed, and corrective measures identified.

County Level
County must have an approved EOP. Activation of a Command Post, demonstrated use of ICS, and/or EOC activation and corresponding mobilization of staff. A minimum of seven (7) functional annexes of the County EOP tested during the incident. Documented, detailed assistance to municipality (or municipalities), (i.e., personnel, equipment, technical assistance, resource coordination etc.).


A formal critique conducted after the event and moderated by a representative of the County OEM staff and a representative of the State OEM Regional Office in attendance. (Summary documentation of meeting to be submitted)

Submission of FEMA Exercise Reporting form (95-44) within thirty (30) days to the State OEM Regional Office, to include a narrative summary detailing the County’s involvement in the incident(s). Areas needing improvement should be listed and corrected measures identified.

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management encourages the submission of FEMA form (95-44) for all exercises and for actual occurrences that meet the criteria set forth in section IV of this document. FEMA (95-44) forms are available through the State Office, the Regional Office and the County Offices of Emergency Management. Specific attention must be given to Section IV of the (95-44) form. A comprehensive description of the actual occurrence or exercise involvement the submitting jurisdiction experienced must be provided for the Regional and State Offices. These forms are entered into a data management system for exercise activity that is transferred to the FEMA Regional Office. This gathering of detailed information assists FEMA in identifying program emphasis areas which are to be supported in the future. The narrative or detailed summary should include the following: the duration of the event, the staffing of the EOC or Command Post, a description of the implementation of an Incident Management System (ICS), a description of the jurisdiction’s EOP annex utilization, identification of areas needing improvement and a listing of proposed corrective action measures. The date, attendance, and results of the formal critique should also be included.


Municipal (95-44’s) are to be forwarded to their Regional Office, via their County Office, within 30 days

County (95-44’s) are to be forwarded to their Regional Office within thirty (30) days.

The Regional Offices are responsible for assuring completeness of the forms and will enter the reports into the Emergency Management Exercise Reporting System (EMERS).

For those jurisdiction’s requesting full-scale exercise credit for actual occurrences, the Regional Office will review the forms and determine whether the actual occurrence criteria were met. Forms lacking sufficient information or not meeting the established criteria will be sent back to the submitting jurisdiction for correction and re-submittal. After Regional approval, the actual occurrence forms will be sent to the State Office for review.

The State Exercise Officer will make final determination as to whether the criteria for full-scale exercise credit was met. A letter either approving or disapproving exercise credit for actual events will be sent back to the Regional Office for distribution.

Directive No. 74 requires the approval of proposed Emergency Management Exercises prior to the actual exercise date. Approval of Emergency Management functional and full- scale exercises can only be granted by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, prior to conducting the exercise. Municipal requests to conduct functional or full-scale exercises will be forwarded through the respective County Office of Emergency Management, to the Regional Office at least thirty (30) days prior to the scheduled date of the exercise.

The County Office of Emergency Management will forward all correspondence from the municipality, with a cover letter to the respective Regional Office.

County requests to conduct functional or full-scale exercises will be forwarded directly to the Regional Office at least thirty (30) days prior to the exercise date.

Requests should include the date, time, type/level of activity and area in which the exercise is to be conducted, together with a brief scenario outlining the activity to take place and the annexes (of the Plan) to be tested.

The Regional Offices will grant approval for the exercise and will formally notify the respective jurisdiction(s) by letter. Specific attention will be directed to planned road closures due to exercise activity. All communication transmissions will be prefaced and closed with the acknowledgment that the activity taking place is part of an Emergency Management Exercise. Appropriate notifications to Local, County and/or State Authorities will be made by the participating jurisdictions as per

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