Keeping Fairfax County Operational During an Emergency

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The County Conversation Podcast - Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP)


When disaster strikes, Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) kicks in to ensure essential services remain available to residents.

In a recent episode of the "County Conversation" podcast, Avery Church, continuity program manager for Fairfax County, discussed the significance of COOP and how it safeguards the county's ability to function during emergencies.

"The continuity of operations is an age-old concept. It started in the military, being prepared during the Cold War," said Church.

Its purpose is to ensure that the government can continue to operate and provide critical services to residents, even in the face of disruptions.


With so many moving parts within the county government, centralized coordination is crucial. 

One of the key aspects of COOP is prioritizing essential functions and allocating resources accordingly. This process involves categorizing county functions into priority levels, with category one being the most critical, such as police and fire services.

"Generally speaking, the things that you expect to be category one are category one. Like police, fire and administrative government functions are category one," Church explained.

Quote: We want to make sure we can make success happen no matter what


COOP planning also encompasses succession planning, alternate operational facilities and delegations of authority. These measures ensure that essential roles can be filled, and operations can continue even if primary facilities or personnel become unavailable.

"Order of succession would be for not just leadership. It's for any critical position that you have in your organization, ensuring that if that person is not available, for whatever reason, whatever the threshold might be, that another person is briefed in," Church said.

While COOP primarily focuses on the county government's ability to function, Church noted that guidance and resources are available for businesses as well. The Department of Emergency Management and Security offers a Business Disaster Resiliency Guide to help businesses prepare for potential disruptions.



The “County Conversation” is a podcast featuring employees and subject matter experts from the Fairfax County Government discussing programs, services and items of interest to residents of Fairfax County. Click here to listen to past episodes of "County Conversation.” To find other county podcasts, visit

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