Introduction to Emergency Management

  • Date: Nov. 19, 2020 - Jan. 31, 2021
  • Format: online
Introduction to Emergency Management for Fire Service will provide students with a solid education on basic definitions, concepts and systems utilized within the emergency management discipline. The course includes identification of hazards and risks, activities found within the four phases of emergency management. It addresses federal, state and local roles and responsibilities in a major disaster, with an emphasis on government coordination and the solutions to complicated problems that frequently arise in disasters. This course is designed for fire fighters, local jurisdiction officials, emergency managers, volunteers and other emergency service personnel.

About the Course

Course Summary

Introduction to Emergency Management for the Fire Service provides its audience with a clear definition of "emergency" and "disaster" as well as provides a broad overview of how emergency management evolved in the United States and how it relates to the fire service today. Students will learn the difference between natural and technological disasters and will be able to determine the most significant hazards within their region, what the potential impacts of certain hazard types are, and what is considered acceptable risk. As students learn the basic concepts and principles of the emergency management profession and discipline, they will acquire a clear understanding of the Integrated Emergency Management System, Comprehensive Emergency Management, and then be able to identify the elements and associated activities of the disaster life cycle. Furthermore, the course offers a description of the roles of the different levels of government, which key responsibilities agencies have within the governmental structures, and which role volunteer agencies have in the emergency management system. The four phases of the disaster life cycle will be covered in detail and students will review specific examples of activities and their significance within each phase of the disaster life cycle. Students will study a train derailment disaster and use it to identify key aspects of the emergency management system and coordination activities of federal, state, and local government as well as outline key private sector organizations as they all cooperated during a disaster response. Then to review, students will study a emergency scenario and apply information acquired from the course material to define key problem areas as well as provide possible solutions.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will understand the scope and complexity of the U.S. system for managing emergencies and disasters. The student will be able to identify the types and affects of hazards and the risks associated with each type. Students will come to understand the comprehensive emergency management system and how each level of government functions to achieve the goal of protecting lives and property. It is the intent of this course to give students a greater understanding of the system so that they can better perform their duties within their organizations or in a coordinated effort when disaster strikes.

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  • describe the threats posed by natural and technological hazards and explain how the emergency management system handles these threats;
  • identify the basic concepts and principles of the American emergency management system and how it affects policy making, fiscal relations, and policy management;
  • outline the complexity of government programs in terms of the participation of agencies and actors from all three levels of government, the nonprofit sector, and the private sector;
  • define the functional phases of emergencies and disasters and the activities that can be accomplished within each phase to complete a comprehensive emergency management system;
  • identify special considerations in a community and address those considerations from an emergency management perspective;
  • define the purpose and function of exercises.


While there are no required textbooks or other materials for this course, the National Fire Protection Association. NFPA 1600 Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, latest edition, is an essential resource for anyone interested in the field of emergency management. This resource is available through NFPA at This textbook (recommended but not required) is the standard that provides a common set of criteria for disaster management, emergency management, and business continuity programs. With these criteria, current programs may be evaluated and adjusted for the most effective handling of disasters and emergencies.

Please note: For this course, all course content and activities can be accessed online.


This course is composed of five lessons. Each lesson may contain the following sections:

  • the purpose, which states the author’s aim in designing the lesson;
  • the objectives, which list the specific kinds of knowledge students should gain from the lesson;
  • the commentary, which consists of the written "discussion" of the important topics covered by the lesson;
  • the activities, which are web-based questions and exercises that will help you review the material from each lesson on your own; and

Begin Coursework

Starting with the first lesson, study the lesson’s purpose, objectives, and commentary. Then complete any study activities on your own. Take notes and make sure you understand all the material presented. Follow this procedure for each lesson.

Course Credit

You will be required to work through all of the course material, including the activities, and successfully complete the final assessment with a score of 70% or better. This course provides 1.6 CEUs from the University of Missouri Extension Fire and Rescue Training Institute.

Questions for this course should be directed to MU FRTI at (800) 869-3476 or (573) 882-4735.


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Extension resources