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Rules & Regulations

There are several state laws, regulations and Executive Orders that apply to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, its activities and/or disasters and emergencies in Tennessee in general. For precise guidance, please go directly to the reference cited.

Executive Orders of the Governor

Governor's Executive Order 4
Governor Ned McWherter's Executive Order 4 is the document that establishes TEMA as the lead agency for the coordination of all emergency response activities of state government. EO4 also establishes the Emergency Services Coordinator (ESC) program, and requires the Commissioners and directors of all state agencies to designate a primary and alternate ESC, and provide them with a state vehicle, pager, cellular phone and radio capable of communicating with TEMA.

Governor's Executive Order 7
Governor Ned McWherter's Executive Order 7 makes TEMA the lead agency for carrying out the provisions of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, specifically making TEMA the administrative arm of the State Emergency Response Council.

Governor's Executive Order 49
Governor Phil Bredesen's Executive Order 49 establishes the State of Tennessee Public Safety Wireless Interoperable Communications Advisory Board to encourage public departments and agencies to purchase similar communications equipment that will operate with each other. This is intended to ensure that the improved exchange of information would expansively improve government cooperation and performance during emergencies.

Attorney General's Opinions



According to the Attorney General (OAG 09-140) the director of a county emergency management agency may establish a secondary emergency operating center somewhere in the county when the mayor has approved the measure and when the county commission has approved the measure. This is so even if the city where the center is operated will pay for it.

The opinion further clarifies that the mayor is in charge (command and control) of the emergency management agency, not any commissioner or other official. The act does not give the county mayor sole authority over all decisions of the emergency management agency, but requires the approval of the county commission. The intent of the law is likely to require the county commission to develop or approve the emergency plan and any plan which would require fiscal expenditure. 

VOLUNTEERS- According to the Attorney General (OAG 04-174), volunteers do not qualify for “worker’s compensation benefits in the event of death or injury.” “Volunteers” are individuals who do not work for the government of the State of Tennessee. This definition does not include any employee of the government volunteering for service not typically in the employee’s normal duty or at the employee’s normal workplace. Volunteers still must be registered with the Board of Claims.  Volunteers are provided “sovereign immunity” in states that have reciprocal agreements for emergency management. Volunteers must be reimbursed for all actual and necessary travel and subsistence if funds are available. If a person is paid more than expenses, that person is no longer a volunteer. TEMA policy is that volunteers will not be deployed outside the state as part of a federal or state team under EMAC or any other emergency management program. This ensures that state law (TCA 58-2-403) (EMAC agreement) requirements are met regarding payment of compensation for deaths or injuries in the line of duty.

Emergency Management References in State Law

There are several state laws that apply to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, its activities and/or disasters and emergencies in Tennessee in general.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2

TCA 58-2-101 - Disasters, Emergencies and Civil Defense, is the organic act that establishes TEMA, and defines what constitutes an emergency within Tennessee. This chapter also requires each county within the state to create and staff an emergency management organization, and directs that all local emergency plans conform to the design and functional requirements of the state's. Additionally, the law that previously existed as TCA 7-86-201 (the Public Safety Communications Act), has now been subsumed into this chapter. This is the legislation that creates the Public Safety Committee and defines standards for emergency dispatchers and the training they receive. This chapter runs through section 58-2-124.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2, Part 4

TCA 58-2-401 - Authority for Compact. This part authorizes civil defense and disaster compacts to be formed by the Governor. This includes the Civil Defense and Disaster Compact and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Articles of the agreements are found here.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 2, Part 6

TCA 58-2-601 - Accidents Involving Hazardous Materials.  This part establishes a requirement to report hazardous materials accidents involving placarded transportation, other notifications and cleanup requirements.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 58, Chapter 8

TCA 58-8-101 - Mutual Aid and Emergency and Disaster Assistance Agreement Act of 2004. This chapter consists of 15 sections that grant special powers to counties to invoke mutual aid provisions.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 65, Chapter 15, Section 126

TCA 65-15-126 requires persons transporting nuclear fuel through the state of Tennessee to notify TEMA and the Department of Safety of the act, and to provide for the appropriate safety precautions and escorts for the vehicles.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 68, Chapter 202, Section 104

TCA 68-202-104 requires the agency to provide training in the detection and monitoring of radioactive materials to personnel who staff the four commercial vehicle inspection centers across the state.