DHS Surge Capacity Force FAQs
What is the Surge Capacity Force?
The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) [link to this
legislation] mandated the creation of a Surge Capacity Force (SCF) which
will be “capable of deploying rapidly and efficiently after activation to
prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, acts of
terrorism, and other man-made disasters, including catastrophic incidents.”
The Coast Guard strongly encourages civilians to volunteer via the Coast
Guard application process
Who can volunteer?
Permanent, full-time or temporary full-time federal employees in the USCG
with the exception of members of the Incident Management Assistance Team (
IMAT), District Response Assist Team (DRAT), Joint Field Office (JFO),
Maritime Transportation System Recovery Units (MTSRU) or the Selected
Reserves (SELRES) due to their unique roles within a recovery from a
What kind of work does an SCF volunteer perform?
Volunteers may work in one of three program areas: Public Assistance (debris
monitoring), Individual Assistance (aid to survivors), and Community
Relations (outreach to the public about available disaster assistance
How long are deployments?
Those who volunteer in the SCF may deploy for up to 45 days.
Is volunteering for SCF a requirement of my position?
No, it is strictly voluntary and one may withdraw at any time.
Is supervisory approval required?
Yes. Employees must self certify their supervisors’ approval to volunteer.
The self certification is accomplished in the application process. This
applies both when employees initially sign to volunteer and again as a
reassessment of the current organizational mission requirements at the time
of an actual call up.
Who administers the SCF program?
The executive agent for this program is FEMA. Each component has its own
How do I apply?
USCG civilian employees will receive an initial individual email with
instructions on how to apply. The application will be done through the email
itself. The email application process will be repeated for subsequent “open
What kind of training will I receive for SCF?
Employees can begin on-line training anytime, with their supervisors’
approval. In addition, employees may receive enhanced training at a staging
area before they are sent to a disaster area.
Who is my point of contact?
You may address questions to:
What are conditions like in the field?
Conditions will be challenging. Remember, if SCF is activated, it means that
the disaster is catastrophic. Living conditions are often austere during
deployments to include but not limited to: no running water, no electricity,
sleeping in tents and weather extremes.
Are there any medical or health requirements?
The application process requires that volunteers must self certify regarding
their medical fitness to perform the SCF duties. The application process and
the website contain a checklist of medical/health conditions that can be
printed out and discussed with the employee’s physician if any items are
How are travel cards obtained?
Employees who are interested in volunteering and have met all
conditions except possessing a travel card should contact their local travel
managers to request assistance in acquiring a travel card for SCF
volunteers. The following link to the Personnel Service Center, Business
Operations Staff website will provide detailed information on obtaining a
travel card and the contact information for the local travel manager:
Who pays for travel if the SCF is activated and volunteers are called to report?
The volunteers’ units will initially pay the travel costs. Those costs will
be reimbursed by FEMA.
How do volunteers know when to deploy?
Volunteers will receive a call from FEMA’s Automated Deployment Database
(ADD) team. They will provide the volunteers with all the information they
need to begin their deployment.