On August 22, President Trump signed P.L. 116-48, which clarifies that federal employees can participate in federal urban search and rescue (US&R) teams. This law was originally introduced by Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) as H.R. 639 and supported by the IAFC (Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced the Senate companion bill - S. 1521).
FEMA announced that the federal US&R teams’ sponsoring agencies might resume the practice of using full-time federal employees as members of federal US&R teams. In the past, the federal employees could be in a non-pay status with their employing federal agency and become an employee or affiliate of the US&R team’s sponsoring agency.
Now the US&R team’s sponsoring agency must enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with the federal employee’s agency. The MOA is required to ensure that the federal employee participating on the US&R team is still afforded all federal employee protections when deployed with the team. If a US&R sponsoring agency already has a previously-executed MOA with federal agencies, they can review those agreements and keep them in place.
For further information on US&R issues, please go to the IAFC’s US&R Committee website.
Ken LaSala is the IAFC’s Director of Government Relations and Policy