Excel as a High-Performing Agency

USDA Forest Service trains in catastrophic earthquake incident response

Forest Service members working at a desk during operation Shaken Fury 19
Emergency Support Function #4 personnel from Washington Office Fire and Aviation Management at Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Response Coordination Center during the Shaken Fury 19 exercise. May 29, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo.

TENNESSEE – The USDA Forest Service was one of dozens of federal, state and local agencies that participated in the Shaken Fury 19 exercise. This event, which ran May 29 through June 7, is designed to simulate various aspects of the response and recovery to a 7.7 magnitude earthquake near Memphis, Tennessee, along the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The NMSZ is a series of active faults extending 150 miles southward from Cairo, Illinois, to Marked Tree, Arizona. The exercise was scripted to depict real-world scientific potentialities.

The NMSZ threatens eight states, from Illinois to Alabama. Large earthquakes (estimated 7.0 magnitude) occurred in the NMSZ in 1811-1812. On average, more than 200 measured events still occur there and potential for future large earthquakes still exists.

The purpose of SF 19 was to evaluate and improve the nation’s ability to establish and implement a coordinated strategy of rapid response and recovery operations in the event of a “no-notice” catastrophic earthquake incident. As with a “real world” event, the Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinated the federal response to support the affected states. The USDA Forest Service, through Fire & Aviation Management, Emergency Support Function #4, coordinates the response of interagency firefighting personnel, equipment and supplies mobilized in support of FEMA’s response efforts under the National Response Framework.

Twenty-two ESF #4-qualified personnel and trainees staffed FEMA National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. and the Regional Response Coordination Centers in Atlanta and Kansas City as well as the State Emergency Operations Centers in Tennessee and Kentucky. Exercise activities were simulated for RRCCs in Denton (Texas) and Chicago, and for SEOCs in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

During the exercise, in accordance with the New Madrid Earthquake Response Plan, ESF #4 simulated the mobilization of incident management teams, structure fire and wildland fire engines, water tenders, structure and wildland firefighters, and helicopters. More than 1,750 personnel were mobilized in this exercise. These resources nationally assisted with firefighting, emergency road clearing, establishment and management of commodity distribution sites, emergency planning and other potentially life-saving functions.

MAp of Tennessee deliniating area where Shaken Fury 19 took place
20190606 – Excel – Shaken Fury 2019 (Map)