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Activation Levels

State-Level Emergency Declarations in Tennessee

The Governor or the Governor's designee under TCA 58-2-107 may declare a state of emergency by executive order or proclamation, or by activation of the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP). This law allows the Governor to assume direct operational control over all or any part of the emergency management functions within the state.

The TEMP is a signed executive order of the Governor. TEMA is charged by state law TCA 58-2-106 to prepare and maintain the TEMP. Under the TEMP, a state of emergency automatically occurs when the Activation Level is Level 3 or above.

A state of emergency expires when either 60 days has elapsed or when the Activation Level returns to Level 5.

What Do Activation Levels Mean?

Activation levels are established to assist the emergency management leadership and the public to understand the initial and current size of the emergency.

The State Emergency Operations Center is staffed to the minimum size required to provide adequate support of an emergency. As an emergency grows or diminishes, the staffing of the SEOC will be adjusted to meet changing conditions.

Level 5 - Normal Operation
No state declaration of emergency exists at this level. TEMA is handling routine issues with normal staffing.

Level 4 - Elevated (or State of Emergency)
When there is a potential or likelihood of an emergency developing or worsening, TEMA may augment staffing for the 24-hour watch staff in the Operations Center to perform more frequent monitoring of a situation. This level also may represent a period at the end of an emergency, when waivers of law are still required for response or recovery activities.

Level 3 - State of Emergency
At this level, a serious emergency or minor disaster has occurred or a situation is deteriorating rapidly and public warnings are being issued. The Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) is activated and a state of emergency is automatically declared per TCA 58-2-107. Key or specifically needed emergency service coordinators for state departments are recalled to duty the State's Emergency Operations Center.

Level 2 - Major Disaster
This level describes an event that will likely exceed local capabilities and require a broad range of state or federal assistance, as defined in TCA 58-2-101. TEMA's full staff and most of the emergency support functions outlined in the TEMP have been activated for 24-hour continuous operation.

Level 1 - Catastrophic Disaster
This level describes an event that will require massive state or federal assistance, including immediate military involvement, as defined in TCA 58-2-101. TEMA's full staff and all of the emergency support functions outlined in the TEMP have been activated for 24-hour continuous operation.