For Fire and EMS Departments
GUIDE TO DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
FOR FIRE AND EMS DEPARTMENTS
Federal Emergency Management Agency
United States Fire Administration
This guide was produced by IOCAD Emergency Services Group under contract number EME-98-CO-0202 for the
Federal Emergency Management Agency’s United States Fire Administration. Any information, findings,
conclusions, or recommendations in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency or the United States Fire Administration.
Since its inception, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) has been committed to enhancing the health
and safety of emergency response personnel. Fire, rescue, emergency medical service (EMS), and other
response agencies across the country rely on the USFA for current information and state-of-the-art guidance
on critical fire service management and operational issues.
This Guide to Developing Effective Standard Operating Procedures for Fire and EMS Departments is de
signed to assist emergency service managers in establishing effective standard operating procedures (SOPs)
within their organizations. It will serve as a valuable resource for personnel seeking a clear understanding of
operational issues, and will facilitate compliance with current laws, regulations, and standards related to the
The Guide explains how SOPs can be developed, lists topic areas that should be covered, and describes
various styles and formats. While this material will prove helpful for fire and EMS departments developing
SOPs, it is important to note that each department must conduct its own analysis, rather than copy verbatim
the policies and procedures of another agency. SOPs are not “one size fits all;” they must be customized to the
unique requirements of the department and community.
The Guide was developed by a team of experts in the em