Skip to Main Content

TEMA Structure

The TEMA Director is responsible for setting policy for the agency, ensuring overall goals and objectives of the agency are met, and initiating strategies relative to the requirements of various state and federal regulations, budget, and the policies of the Governor. The TEMA is appointed by the Governor upon recommendation of the Adjutant General in the Department of Military. During non-emergency periods, TEMA is under the administrative control of the Adjutant General. During emergencies the Director reports directly to the Governor and coordinates with the Adjutant General. 

The TEMA Director is the executive head of emergency management activities in the state. The Director is the Governor's Authorized Representative (GAR) by law and the State Coordinating Official (SCO). The Director declares a state of emergency on behalf of the Governor when he authorizes activation of the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) and the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). During an emergency the Director is directly responsible to the Governor to report incidents, to coordinate emergency management plans and to direct actions in behalf of the Governor. The Director discusses with and informs the Adjutant General of the emergency and emergency management activities and administratively reports to him during non-emergency periods.

The Administrative Assistant to the Director provides administrative support for the agency director, performs office management and hosts visitors, handles or coordinates inquiries, writes and receives correspondence, handles executive mail, and manages the director's travel arrangements and calendar. The administrative assistant to the director serves as recorder and administrative support for conferences, arranges meetings and provides agency travel oversight, performs personnel time-keeping for the executive staff, makes professional contacts with the public and other departments, divisions and organizations, explains services and activities, presents briefings and trains new staff personnel. The administrative assistant to the director maintains a record of emergency service coordinators or liaison positions and communicates with commissioners and directors to ensure appointments are maintained.


The Chief of Staff is responsible for coordinating day-to-day operations inside the agency. This position is responsible for fiscal oversight and account management, final approval of purchases, payment of bills, expense reimbursements and monitoring capitol projects. The Chief of Staff is the lead over TEMA's Administrative and Mission Support Division which provides strategic guidance for TEMA’s administrative, financial, human capital, and operations support branches.  This division also supports critical mission support functions in logistics and telecommunications systems.

The Assistant Director for Operations & Field Services leads TEMA's field response operations and staff who assist local emergency management agencies during disasters and emergencies.  The Assistant Director for Operations & Field Services is also responsible for TEMA's 24-hour Watch Point operation, the agency's central point for emergency warning and communications, resource deployments, and assistance requests.

The Assistant Director for Mitigation & Recovery is responpsible for TEMA's public assistance, mitigation, and unmet needs programs that help local and state governments alleviate the impact of hazards.  The Assistant Director for Mitigation & Recovery focuses the division on aiding communities in their short- and long-term recovery programs.

The Assistant Director for Preparedness implements policies and programgs to support TEMA's overall planning efforts at the state and local levels.  The Assistant Director for Preparedness leads a division that conducts exercises and after-action evaluations, and administrates TEMA's statewide emergency management training program.

The Executive Officer for Communications & External Affairs provides the conduit to the public for all aspects of the agency's public relations activities. The Executive Officer coordinates with the Governor's staff and other state departments and agencies to ensure a single front to the public on emergency management activities, disasters or other emergency activities. The Executive Officer is the lead office for developing public awareness and education. The Executive Officer serves as the agency's point of contact for public information requests. The Executive Officer serves the agency's needs relative to legislation in the state House and Senate and ensures legislative actions are coordinated with other agencies and keeps members of the state and federal delegations apprised of the status of emergency response efforts.



TEMA’s Administration & Mission Support Division, led by the Chief of Staff, focuses on two grand funcational arenas: Operational Functions and Administrative Functions.  

The Administrative Function includes TEMA’s human resources, financial services, and facilities management, sections.  Human resources coordinates TEMA’s hiring process and new employee training, supports senior management in organizations decisions, processes payroll, and supports the agency’s performance review process.  Financial services manages and monitors TEMA’s grant activities, processes and approves all contract purchase orders, and oversees all federal and state audits of the agency.  The facilities section delivers maintenance services for all TEMA facilities.

The Operations Function supports TEMA’s communications and logistics missions.  The Communications Section administers the agency’s statewide wireless radio system. This function is paramount to ensuring the agency has an interoperable network with redundancy for emergency communications.  The Logistics Section manages TEMA’s logistics program to ensure equipment is properly tracked, acquired, and maintained.


TEMA’s Operations & Field Services Division administers and manages the networks needed to support local governments and other stakeholders during the response phase of an emergency.

The Operations Branch focuses on sustaining a centralized network for TEMA and the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to deliver assistance, notifications, and capabilities to local governments and other stakeholders.  The Operations Division’s hub is the Watch Point, the State’s 24-hour, 365-days-a-year notification center for emergency incidents, activities, and events within the State of Tennessee.  The Watch Point receives notifications from stakeholders and distributes notifications to relevant stakeholders in an effort to initiate operational readiness, situational awareness, and emergency coordination actions needed to support emergency incidents, activities, and events within Tennessee.

The Field Services Branch acts as TEMA’s assigned liaisons to local government entities across the State of Tennessee. Field Services personnel provide the first line of support to local communities on all emergency management topics and TEMA programs. They interact with their assigned communities and county emergency management directors on a daily basis from three regional offices located offsite from TEMA’s Central Office. The regional offices are the West Region Office located in Jackson, the Middle Region Office located in Nashville (a few miles northeast of TEMA’s Central Office), and the East Region Office located in Knoxville.

Operations & Field Services also dedicates a branch to Team Development & Hazardous Materials. This includes documenting SARA Title III and Tier II reporting requirements for hazardous material releases and acting as the grant manager for the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) and the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grant.


TEMA’s Preparedness Division is divided into four main focal branches: 1) Planning, 2) Training, 3) Exercise, and 4) Technical Hazards. 

The Planning Branch updates the state’s all-hazard operational plan – the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP); reviews local government Local Hazard Mitigation Plans for compliance; assists state agencies and other stakeholders in developing quality emergency planning products; and assesses the state’s preparedness efforts annually.  Each of TEMA’s Regional Offices also includes a Planner whose primary focus is to assist local governments in updating their Basic Emergency Operations Plans (BEOP) and Hazard Mitigation Plans. 

The Training Branch administers the state’s emergency management training programs for local responders, state coordinators, and other stakeholders.  The Training Branch tracks course completions and issues certificates; offers courses to improve emergency capabilities; maintains a qualified pool of instructors; and developes new training programs. 

The Exercise Branch administers the state’s all-hazard exercise programs in accordance with Homeland Security Exercise & Evaluation Program (HSEEP) standards. The Exercise Branch implements an exercise program management plan based on the state’s hazards of prime concern; designs and conducts a comprehensive range of annual exercises (e.g. tabletop, functional, and full-scale) that test numerous mission areas and core capabilities; and prepares After Action Reports (AAR) and Improvement Plans (IP) to capture recommendations and assign specific corrective actions.

The Technical Hazards Branch coordinates statewide radiological protection planning, training, and exercise activities in conjunction with Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) standards.  The Technical Hazards Branch coordinates the off-site Multi-Jurisdictional Radiological Emergency Response Plans for both the Tennessee Valley Authority – Watts Bar and Sequoyah Nuclear Plants – and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation.


TEMA’s Mitigation & Recovery Division has three branches devoted to Hazard Mitigation, Public Assistance, and Unmet Needs.

The Public Assistance Branch administers public assistance grants to local governments, state government agencies, and nonprofit organizations in an effort to help disaster impacted areas rebuild. Activities supported by this grant program include funding debris removal efforts, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement, or restoration of qualifying public structures and infrastructure.

The Hazard Mitigation Branch administers three types of hazard mitigation grants – (HMGP) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, (PDM) Pre-Disaster Mitigation, and (FMA) Flood Mitigation Assistance – to local governments, state government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Hazard mitigation activities supported by these grants help disaster impacted areas rebuild into a more resilient state. Typical projects supported by these grant programs include funding property buyouts in floodplains, creating tornado safe spaces, developing flood control projects, constructing hazard mitigation plans and studies, and retrofitting structures to withstand seismic events.

The Unmet Recovery Needs Branch will administer state recovery initiatives not covered under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Stafford Act grant programs. Activities within this section would largely be based around building partnerships, plans, and alternative funding sources to support recovery assistance operations. 

The SEOC in Tennessee was built with state and federal funds as a state of the art communications and information technology coordination center. The facility establishes a central focus for the state’s efforts in supporting the response and recovery effort to major emergencies and catastrophic disaster. The SEOC effectively collects and disseminates disaster information and guides the most efficient response or recovery effort in support of the local emergency management agency. The SEOC is a technically a geographic location in Nashville, but the term also describes the team activated for crises.

The SEOC serves as the emergency staff to the Governor to control the state’s response and recovery and to ensure implementation of the Governor’s orders in protecting lives and property. Often, the Governor will move to the SEOC to obtain instantaneous information and communication.  Press releases and guidance to the public will originate from the SEOC, usually with representatives from the Governor’s staff operating as an integral part of the SEOC team. Activation Level 1 is for the most serious threat possible. Although not an initial activation level, Level 4 shows the advance preparation stage for a possible emergency. After an emergency this level may be used to describe a technical continuation of the emergency while the staff is being reduced, demobilization is taking place or recovery requires special rules to continue. The SEOC is alerted and activated with the decision to implement the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan, a pre-approved executive order, automatically declaring a state of emergency under law. The TEMA director activates the SEOC at Level 3, calling in those key persons needed to manage the crisis. Higher levels, which also declare a state of emergency, are implemented the same way: Level 2 is a full activation of all pre-designated members of the SEOC who report to handle emergency response to a major emergency. Level 1 is a full activation for a catastrophic disaster having immediate military presence (TCA 58-2-101), often with military commanders taking immediate action to save lives.. Level 5, normal operation, returns the SEOC to non-emergency status.

When notified of an incident or notified of the request of a mayor, the State On-Call Officer, an experienced emergency manager on duty at TEMA, performs a rapid review of available information and seeks to find resources to aid the county. When the situation is determined to be a major emergency or likely to become one, the On-Call recommends activation of the SEOC. The TEMA director after conferring with the Governor may activate the SEOC. A state emergency is automatically declared when the SEOC is activated. Alternatively, the Governor may declare an emergency by proclamation or alter or extend it through proclamation or executive order. A declaration of emergency remains in effect for 60 days unless terminated earlier or extended by the Governor. When the SEOC activates at Level 3 or higher, the On-Call Officer, depending upon expertise, may be appointed as the Direction and Coordinating Officer (DACO) and placed in charge of the SEOC.

Led by the DACO, the SEOC staff is tailored for the unique requirements of each emergency. Each activation results in a “battle-staff assigned” cadre of TEMA specialists and key representatives from the state’s executive departments, state agencies and liaisons from federal or private agencies or organizations with a role in the emergency. A typical SEOC will start with 15-30 persons, but may increase to over 80 based upon size of the emergency and the need for expertise or resource coordination. Members of the SEOC who are emergency service coordinators have legal authority to act on behalf of their commissioner or director to assign personnel and resources.

Cross-coordination is essential so that all positions are equally informed on decisions and plan intentions. Not only at state level, but at local level the EOC serves as the best location to effectively collect and disseminate disaster information. Local EOCs report essential information to and exchange data with the SEOC to achieve the most efficient response and recovery.