What about THIRA - what does it have to do with my grants?

THIRA is the acronym for a "Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment."  While many people do not really understand the difference between the terms threat, hazard, and risk (that can be the subject of another piece) I’m sure most of our readers are familiar with Threat Assessments and/or Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments (HIRAs).  The term THIRA may be something new but the concept is not.  The reason that it is a term of some importance is that the term was included in the FY2011 Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) guidance and it is causing a concern for some grantees.  The HSGP guidance says that: 

"In order to qualify for FY 2011 funding, all grantees shall develop and maintain a THIRA."

While good folks at DHS/FEMA are developing a Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) supplement that will aid in the conduct of these and other risk assessments, there is no specific guidance out about how to do a THIRA that meets the requirements of the grant

The new CPG supplement guidance will be available for FY2012 and later but for now we need to figure this out for ourselves.  But fear not, the HSGP guidance also says that:

"Current State Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments developed for the purposes of Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) or Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) that have a terrorism component satisfy the FY 2011 SHSP and UASI requirement."

I am not sure to what degree states have included a terrorism component in their HIRAs but the terrorism threat certainly should be a factor under human-caused hazards.  However, some states have elected to exclude Hazardous Materials and Terrorism hazards from their HIRAs due to the perceived sensitivity of the related information and the potential for misuse.

That being said, my understanding is that a state (and by extension the UASIs within it) that meet this standard of a HIRA with a Terrorism component will meet the grant requirement.  Those that do not, will need to do a THIRA in order to qualify for funding. 

For those of you that will be doing THIRAs, remember to take a "Whole Community" approach.  Numerous partners—including federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based and community-based organizations, and the public—should be included in the process.  As FEMA has suggested, states and UASIs should engage these partners in building a shared perspective around threats and risk. Together they can identify how best the community can work together to minimize risk.

When you do a THIRA, you can start with using existing Hazard Vulnerability Analyses (HVAs) or HIRAs as a base and then work to identify the top threats and hazards for your community.  Then look at the risks—and opportunities—across the spectrum of threats and hazards. 

You might also want to check with your FEMA Region as I understand they are working to conduct their own THIRAs.

According to FEMA:

THIRAs are intended to be tools that allow organizations at all levels of government to identify, assess, and prioritize their natural and man-made risks.  These assessments are meant to facilitate the identification of capability and resource gaps, and allow organizations to track their year-to-year progress to address those gaps.  THIRAs should leverage existing hazard mitigation processes, but be conducted in a reasonably standard manner so that results may be incorporated into federal-level assessments.  FEMA will use these assessments to develop regional planning assumptions and, working with its partners, identify and implement priority actions to address assumptions identified.

Obviously, there is a strong basis for this work in the long standing hazard mitigation program practices; however, there should be a common approach to doing THIRAs as part of the annual emergency management program life cycle.  

If it were up to me, I would work to integrate these assessments with capability assessments, improvement planning, and performance metric activities.


  1. The guidance was supposed to be out by now but we are still waiting on THIRA...


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