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Under Fugate's leadership, emergency management has been promoted as a community and shared responsibility. FEMA has fostered resiliency, a community-oriented approach to emergency management to build sustainable and resilient communities. FEMA has instituted a permanent catastrophic planning effort to build the nation’s capacity to stabilize a catastrophic event within 72 hours. FEMA is implementing a National Preparedness System (PPD-8) to build unity of effort to address the nation's most significant risks. FEMA is supporting state and local governments with efforts to prepare for the impacts of climate change through "adaptation," which is planning for the changes that are occurring and expected to occur. The private sector has been integrated into federal emergency response, with a permanent private sector liaison at the agency, representation within FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center, and the creation of the National Business Emergency Operations Center. FEMA has strengthened partnerships with voluntary agencies, including the formalization of the roles of FEMA and the American Red Cross as co-leads for national level mass care operations. Additionally, the function and access needs of people with disabilities have been integrated into all planning efforts, led by FEMA's new Office of Disability Integration Coordination. In September 2011, FEMA released the National Disaster Recovery Framework, defining Recovery Support Functions for federal agencies and the overall process for communities to rebuild stronger, smarter and safer.
Prior to coming to FEMA, Fugate served as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). Fugate served as the Florida State Coordinating Officer for 11 Presidentially-declared disasters including the management of $4.5 billion in federal disaster assistance. In 2004, Fugate managed the largest federal disaster response in Florida history as four major hurricanes impacted the state in quick succession; Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. In 2005, Florida was again impacted by major disasters when three more hurricanes made landfall in the state; Dennis, Katrina and Wilma. The impact from Hurricane Katrina was felt more strongly in the gulf coast states to the west but under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact or EMAC, Florida launched the largest mutual aid response in its history in support of those states.
Under Fugate's stewardship, the FDEM program became the first statewide emergency management program in the nation to receive full accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.
Fugate began his emergency management career as a volunteer firefighter, paramedic, and a Lieutenant with the Alachua County Fire Rescue. Eventually, he moved from exclusive fire rescue operations to serving as the Emergency Manager for Alachua County in Gainesville, Florida. He spent a decade in that role until May 1997 when he was appointed Bureau Chief for Preparedness and Response for FDEM. Within FDEM, Fugate's role as Chief of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) kept him busy in 1998, the SERT team was active for more than 200 days as a result of numerous floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and Hurricane Georges.
Fugate and his wife Sheree hail from Gainesville, Florida.