Categories of Emergencies

Measurement Criteria

Depending on the threat or potential threat to lives and property, an incident, emergency, or disaster will be designated one of four types. Because incidents are constantly evolving, the level of a given incident may also change.


Routine Emergency

A routine emergency is one that is handled on a daily basis by police, fire, emergency medical, and/or Operations Department personnel. This type of emergency is small and localized in nature, and does not have any significant impact on the health and well-being of citizens outside of the confined area of the emergency.

Minor Emergency

A minor emergency is one that normally involves a single department with a large area being impacted, or requires several departments and/or agencies, but can be managed using existing City resources. The incident may be handled at the scene with an expanded incident command structure, or managed off-site through a department operations center (DOC) or the City Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Major Emergency

A major emergency is one where consolidation and centralization of the City’s response is desirable and activation of the EOC is appropriate. The consequences are such that City resources are insufficient to meet incident demands. Outside assistance is sought and is integrated into the overall response.

Catastrophic Emergency

A catastrophic event is one where the capability of the City to help itself is minimal. Impacts to life and property are significant enough to warrant an aggressive response, and an extensive and prolonged recovery period is likely.

More Information

View additional information about the categories of emergencies, including examples of each level.