With its roots starting during World War I the first civil defense program was established on August 29, 1916 named the Council of National Defense. Years later, in 1941, President Roosevelt responded to the increasing concern about defending the homeland during World War II by creating the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD).
Following the passing of the National Security Act of 1947, the National Security Resources Board (NSRB) was created. After subsequent studies and the reorganization of Department of Defense (DOD), the NSRB finally had its responsibilities transferred to the Office of Defense Mobilization in December of 1950.
During the start of the Cold War, the NSRB generated a new proposal in 1950 called the Blue Book, which outlined a set of civil defense functions and how they should be implemented at each level of government. In response, Congress enacted the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, which placed most of the civil defense burden on the States and created the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) to formulate national policy to guide the States' efforts. The civil defense symbol was created during the Cold War and used in public service campaigns to inspire people to become more involved in their own protection and preparedness.
In 1952 the City of Providence created and passed into law an Ordinance creating the Office of Civil Defense.
Undergoing subsequent reorganization, President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10952 on July 20, 1961, which created the Office of Emergency Planning (OEP) and the Office of Civil Defense.
By the time President Nixon entered office in 1969, public and government interest in civil defense had fallen precipitously from its peak in the early 1960s. National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM) 184 recommended the establishment of a "dual-use approach" to Federal citizen preparedness programs and the replacement of the Office of Civil Defense with the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency (DCPA).
In 1974 the Disaster Relief Act (Public Law 93-288), more popularly known as The Stafford Act, was signed into law. This Act constitutes the statutory authority for most Federal disaster response activities especially as they pertain to FEMA and FEMA programs.
Partially in response to the near nuclear Disaster Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on July 20, 1979 the Carter Administration issued Executive Order 12148, which established the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the lead agency for coordinating Federal disaster relief efforts.
In 1983 the City of Providence modified the existing Ordinance and formed todays Providence Emergency Management Agency or PEMA.
On November 25, 2002 the Bush Administration signed into law The Homeland Security Act of 2002 establishing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Public Safety, Public Trust.
On November 30, 2006 the old civil defense symbol from the 1950's was replaced with the new "EM" icon. This symbol is meant to be a visual reminder that there are local, county, state and federal agencies dedicated to protecting the lives and property of all Americans. The new icon is used by local, state and Federal agencies to draw attention to information that is vital to Americans' preparedness.
Its three stars represent the three levels of government response and the bottom-up approach, in which local agencies turn to state and Federal governments only when their capabilities are overwhelmed.
Citizens should know that there are professionals on all levels of government planning, training, preparing and exercising during non-disaster times and working tirelessly on response, recovery and mitigation during times of crisis.
The slogan under the icon is also very important: Public Safety, Public Trust.
Public safety is one mandate. And so is Public Trust. When people see that symbol on web sites, on the sides of government vehicles, on crates of emergency relief supplies and on preparedness material, they'll more easily recognize the efforts to make their lives safer and more secure and hopefully become more involved in the process. Like the Civil Defense and Emergency Shelter relics of the Cold War, the EM symbol will remind citizens of their own responsibilities to be prepared and informed.
On October 27, 2010 the Providence Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), met the nation's highest standards in emergency preparedness. Providence has become the first municipality in America to receive national accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP).
Emergency management accreditation represents a significant achievement. To achieve accreditation, PEMA documented compliance with a set of 63 standards used in the accreditation process and underwent a peer-review assessment by EMAP trained assessors.
Accreditation is a means of demonstrating, through program assessment, documentation and on-site assessment by an independent team, that a program meets national standards. Accreditation is valid for five years from the date the EMAP Commission grants accreditation.
EMAP recognizes the ability of our local government to bring together personnel, resources, and communications from a variety of agencies and organizations in preparation for and in response to an emergency. This forms the foundation of the nation's emergency preparedness system. EMAP is the only accreditation process for emergency management.