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Frequently Asked Questions

What is IPWMAN?

IPWMAN is a statewide mutual aid system that is available to all public works agencies. This system allows for mutual aid and support during natural or man-made disasters. The system operates by coordinating personnel and resources when needed for those who require assistance. IPWMAN is composed of hundreds of member agencies that are committed to working together during times of crisis. It is a reliable way for Illinois public works agencies to collaborate and help each other in times of need.

Who can belong to this organization?

This organization was formed to coordinate resources for local municipal public works departments, public water agencies, public wastewater agencies, township road districts, unit road districts, county highway departments, and any other governmental entity that 
performs a public works function.

The Illinois Intergovernmental Cooperation Act, 5 ILCS 220/1 et seq., provides the basic legal authority for units of local government to contract with other units of government. Please consult your agency’s legal counsel for detailed legal advice.

What are the benefits of belonging to this organization?

Members of IPWMAN:

  • Any government/public agency that provides functions of public works can be a member.
  • The membership sets priorities and controls the organization through the Board of Directors, elected from and by member agencies.  
  • IPWMAN maintains an up-to-date and readily accessible listing of available statewide resources.
  • IPWMAN has partnerships with IEMA-OHS and other statewide mutual aid organizations as well as some non-governmental organizations.
  • Comprehensive, public works driven, and led training is made available to its members at no cost during the annual conference.
  • Because of the defined operations plan, IPWMAN can expedite the coordination and arrival of mutual aid.
  • Member agencies have access to assets from all over Illinois.
  • There is no charge to the requesting member agency for the first five days of the response. 
  • By standardizing operating procedures disaster response is safer and more efficient.  
  • Member agencies have quick and direct access to assets through an IPWMAN Duty Officer. 
  • IPWMAN not only coordinates equipment and manpower but also leadership support from member agencies who have experienced similar disasters.  
  • Each member agency signed the same agreement no matter their location or size. 
  • Being a member of IPWMAN will provide you with added peace of mind knowing that your community has access to mutual aid during times of need when local resources are overwhelmed.

How does an agency request mutual aid?

  1. The requesting agency assesses the extent of the event to determine what type of assistance is needed.
  2. The requesting agency contacts the IPWMAN Call Center to request assistance.
  3. An IPWMAN Duty Officer will contact the requesting agency to confirm the needed assets.
  4. The Duty Officer requests that the IPWMAN Call Center sends a request via text message and email to member agencies and an IPWMAN Duty Officer coordinates the response, all the while communicating with the requesting agency. 
  5. Mutual aid resources arrive at the requesting agency's location to be assigned to tasks as needed.

What is the difference between a major incident and a local emergency?

A major incident is a natural or man-made event that has a widespread impact on your community. Examples include tornadoes, ice storms with significant damage to utilities and public property, floods, windstorms, widespread damage from explosions or chemical spills as may result from a railroad, freight or industrial accidents, and terrorist-caused incidents.

A local emergency is an event that may have limited geographical impact requiring a response that exceeds the capacity of local agencies to respond. Examples may include large sewer, water main or pipeline collapses, bridge collapses, or an unusual event that requires specialized equipment for the response that is not available locally.

Does an agency have to respond to a request for assistance?

No, they do not. The mutual aid agreement does not obligate any agency to respond, nor does it require an explanation as to why it chose not to respond. The idea behind IPWMAN is that member agencies can assist each other when they are available when an unusual situation needs an immediate response beyond the available local resources. 

What if an agency responds and needs its resources back?

Resources remain under the authority of the responding agency and can be recalled at any time. IPWMAN asks that coordination occur between the Duty Officer and the requesting agency. A member agency is not expected to provide mutual aid if it impacts the ability to effectively manage daily operations or respond to its own emergencies. 

What happens if an agency's employees get hurt while rendering aid to another agency?

The employee's member agency remains fully responsible for all of the employees that are sent as part of an IPWMAN activation. This means that each member agency will pay its employees' salaries, benefits, and insurance and provide liability coverage. Should a disaster become eligible for IEMA or FEMA reimbursement, some of these costs may be subject to reimbursement.

How long must I provide assistance if deployed?

If your agency agrees to provide mutual aid to another member agency, IPWMAN asks that you commit to one full workday.  Typically, these days are between 8 and 10 hours, which includes drive time to and from the requesting agency location.  If an incident were to occur at your agency, and you needed to recall your personnel and equipment, you have the full right to do so under the IPWMAN Agreement.  IPWMAN does ask that you coordinate this through the Duty Officer and the requesting agency. 

Will an agency receive reimbursement after providing assistance?

By signing the IPWMAN Mutual Aid Agreement, your agency agrees to provide up to five days of mutual aid at no cost to the requesting agency.  There are two situations where reimbursement may become available. Continue reading the next FAQ for a better explanation.  

What happens after the first five days?

Under the IPWMAN agreement, the responding member agency will provide personnel, equipment, and materials for the first five days of the deployment without reimbursement. Suppose the requesting member agency requires assistance for longer than five days. In that case, the responding member agency may bill the requesting member agency for the provided mutual aid beyond the first five days.

The value of donated assistance helps the community requesting help in a second way: The value of the unpaid assistance may be credited to the requesting agency as part of the non-federal cost share of the requesting agency’s emergency work under the provisions of the Disaster Assistance Policy #9525.2., entitled “Donated Resources.”

FEMA reimbursement may be available only after a Presidential Declaration is signed by the President.

IEMA-OHS reimbursement may be available only after a Disaster Declaration has been signed by the Governor.  

Can the responding party be forced to work at a location?

No. Although there may be times when a responding party may be relocated to better utilize the resource, the responding agency may refuse to go there.

What if an agency is part of another mutual aid agreement?

Signing the Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network Agreement does not invalidate any other mutual aid agreement. Signing the IPWMAN agreement will increase the resources available to the member agency during an emergency.

Is there a fee for membership?

Yes. IPWMAN dues are a necessity to enable the organization to cover the operating costs for processing applications, maintaining resource records, and updating and maintaining our website. Dues payments also provide funding for the IPWMAN Call Center and costs to sustain the operation of the network. The dues paid by a member agency are based on the population of the area the agency serves. Click here to see the current IPWMAN Membership Dues Schedule.

What does an agency need to do to become a member?

Visit our How To Join IPWMAN page for information about becoming an IPWMAN member agency.

My agency is not NIMS compliant at this time. Can my agency still become a member?

Yes, your agency may become a member. However, should a disaster become eligible for IEMA or FEMA reimbursement, your organization may not be eligible to receive reimbursement unless you are NIMS compliant.

My county is a member. Do I need to become a member to get help?

Yes, you do. IPWMAN responders can only work in the right-of-way under the member agency's authority. Because the county is not the authority having jurisdiction over your right-of-way, they cannot request IPWMAN on your behalf. If you have a mutual aid agreement in place with your county, our county can assist you. To request mutual aid from IPWMAN for your agency, your agency must have signed a mutual aid agreement with IPWMAN to legally allow IPWMAN member agencies to respond to your jurisdiction.

Where can my agency obtain more information about IPWMAN?

You can obtain a copy of the membership agreement, by-laws, operation plan, and other information in the Documents section of this website. You can also call the IPWMAN General Information number at 844-479-6269, or email